By Majd Othman
KUWAIT: The Arab Republic of Egypt never closed its door in the face of Kuwaiti investments, said Chairman of the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCCI) Mohammed Al-Sager. Kuwait was the pioneer of Arab investments in the country, he said, and “today ranks fourth among the countries with direct investments in Egypt.” Sager added that due to the main role of Kuwaiti foreign investments in the country’s economic future, it’s important to look at the safety of capital and high economic and financial return when choosing investments to achieve a fair return for the guest and the host.
The remarks came on the sidelines of an Egyptian delegation’s visit to the Kuwait Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Thursday. The delegation was headed by the Minister of Planning and Economic Development and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt, Hala El-Said, and a number of high-profile governmental Egyptian officials.
“The Kuwaiti private sector does not require special incentives or exceptional support for its investments. All that it requires, rather, is an encouraging investment environment based on sound economic standards and advanced infrastructure and institutions and to be on equal footing with Egyptian partners,” he added. Sager also emphasized the role played by that the stability of legislation and the respect for the rights, duties and legal positions established by previous legislation in attracting investments.
He said he has deep appreciation for the broad and courageous steps Egypt has taken since 2016 so far within the framework of Vision 2030. He pointed out the Egyptian efforts in terms of preparing a “State Ownership Policy Document” which outlines Egypt’s approach and policies clearly and transparently regarding its ownership of public assets and strengthening partnership between the public and private sectors. Sager highlighted the role of the Sovereign Fund of Egypt in attracting foreign investment and introducing available investment projects. The presence of Minister El-Said and Egyptian Ambassador to Kuwait Osama Shaltout, he added, is a special opportunity to learn about investment opportunities in Egypt from specialists and decision-making partners.
“We detected a great appetite from investors to enter the Egyptian market, by targeting several sectors, including tourism, agriculture, renewable energy, pharmaceutical and petrochemical industries, and others,” El-Said said on the side line of the meeting. “Egypt is in the process of exiting from 32 companies with diversified activities” she indicated. She explained that the state’s entry, through the Sovereign Fund, into partnerships with the local and foreign private sector aims to reassure the owners of capital and thus achieve common benefits.
“The state ownership document confirms competitive neutrality and equality between investors, within the framework of the availability of promising investment opportunities in various sectors, in light of the Egyptian state’s seriousness in opening up to investment and establishing long-term partnerships,” she said. “We are working to provide added value to the Egyptian economy, whether through exiting some companies, selling some shares to strategic investors, offering usufruct rights, management rights, or capital increases.” She added.
On the fluctuation of the currency exchange rate, El-Said said: “Emerging economies are facing a fluctuation in their monetary currencies. The diversity of portfolios provides returns that will have an impact on stability in the future.” She said that this does not represent the slightest danger or concern for long-term investors. “Egypt has adopted an economic policy represented in liberalizing the exchange rate to ensure its progress in the right direction,” she added.
El-Said said what happened to the currency is temporary and that the Central Bank of Egypt has taken the necessary corrective steps regarding the exchange rate and hedging in a way that provides reassurance to the investment community. Regarding the total size of the sovereign fund, she said: “We monitored a positive reading of the role of economic policy, as the total size of the sovereign fund, between assets and cash, amounts to £48 billion.” Al-Said emphasized the depth of the historical relationship between Egypt and Kuwait, which cannot be affected by some individual practices, as they work within an institutional framework that supports these solid relations.
During her presentation on the infrastructure developments in Egypt, El-Said confirmed that the state has spent about $400 billion on developing infrastructure, including roads, electricity, water, sanitation and other services, which provided an attractive climate for investment in many sectors. Meanwhile, she stressed that the concerned authorities in Egypt were mainly focused on improving legislation and enacting many important bylaws included in the investment law within the framework of reform.” El-Said affirmed that there are no restrictions on investors transferring money from Egypt to anywhere according to their needs, noting that developments in the global scene, including the Russian-Ukrainian war, required special measures.