interviews : Significant potential to increase Egyptian exports to Switzerland: Chief of Swiss Chamber of Commerce

Thursday 13 June 2024 10:47 PM

Nafeza 2 world - Swiss enterprises are poised to explore investment prospects across diverse sectors in Egypt. These opportunities hinge on a myriad of factors, including market demand, the regulatory landscape, and competitive advantages, according to Kamal Abdelmalek, the Chairperson of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Egypt. In an exclusive interview with Daily News Egypt, Abdelmalek offered an in-depth look at the Swiss business presence in Egypt.

What was the trade exchange volume between Egypt and Switzerland last year, and what are the projections for this year’s first quarter?

Egyptian-Swiss economic relations have witnessed growth in recent times, particularly concerning the volume of trade exchange between the two countries. Swiss investments in projects within Egypt amounted to around $2.1bn.

The Information and Decision Support Center (IDSC) stated in a statement on its official Facebook page that the volume of trade exchange between the two countries in 2022 reached approximately $1.5 billion, with Swiss investments providing 25,000 employment opportunities and 433 projects in Egypt containing Swiss investments.

These projects include pharmaceuticals, food industries, construction materials, chemicals, and energy. Switzerland ranks 15th on the list of top investing countries in Egypt.

IDSC also reported an increase in development support for Upper Egypt in the 2024/2023 fiscal year budget, with a 60% increase compared to the previous year, totalling 400 million Egyptian pounds, according to the latest data from the Ministry of Finance. Additionally, there was a $200 million increase in Egyptian exports of food commodities during the first six months of 2023.

Can you detail the key exports to Switzerland and the main imports from there?

Switzerland and Egypt engage in bilateral trade, with each country exporting and importing various products. Here are some of the key products that are exported from Egypt to Switzerland and imported by Egypt from Switzerland:

Products Exported from Egypt to Switzerland are agricultural products as Egypt exports a variety of agricultural products to Switzerland, including fruits (such as citrus fruits and grapes), vegetables, herbs, and spices.

Textiles and Apparel including cotton fabrics and garments, are exported to Switzerland. Egypt is known for its high-quality cotton, which is used in textile production. Besides, chemical products such as fertilizers, industrial chemicals, and pharmaceuticals are also exported from Egypt to Switzerland.

Moreover, Egypt exports petroleum products such as crude oil, refined petroleum, and petroleum derivatives to Switzerland, as well as, processed food products, including canned fruits and vegetables, olive oil, and processed meats, which are exported from Egypt to Switzerland.

We should not forget tourism, as the Red Sea is a popular vacation destination for the Swiss population

Products Imported by Egypt from Switzerland are machinery and equipment as Switzerland is known for its precision machinery, equipment, and machinery parts. Egypt imports machinery for various industries, including manufacturing, construction, and agriculture, from Switzerland.

In addition, chemicals pharmaceuticals and luxury goods Switzerland is famous for its luxury goods industry, including watches, jewellery, and luxury accessories. Egypt imports luxury goods from Switzerland to cater to consumer demand.

These are some of the key products traded between Switzerland and Egypt. The trade relationship between the two countries encompasses a diverse range of goods, reflecting the complementary nature of their economies and the opportunities for bilateral trade and economic cooperation.

What are the prospects for increasing Egyptian exports to Switzerland?

I believe there is significant potential to increase Egyptian exports to Switzerland. Several factors contribute to this possibility. Accordingly, Egypt offers a wide range of exportable goods and services, including agricultural products, textiles, manufactured goods, chemicals, tourism services, health care services (high end ) as well the outsourcing experts manpower services. By diversifying and expanding the range of Egyptian exports, we can tap into new markets and increase competitiveness in Switzerland.

Enhancing the quality and standards of Egyptian exports to meet Swiss market requirements is essential for increasing export volumes. This includes adherence to international quality standards, certifications, and compliance with Swiss regulatory requirements, ensuring that Egyptian products meet the expectations of Swiss consumers and businesses.

Furthermore, facilitating market access for Egyptian exporters to Switzerland through trade agreements, moreover, strengthening trade relations and negotiating preferential trade arrangements can improve market access conditions for Egyptian goods and services in Switzerland.

Promoting Egyptian exports in the Swiss market through targeted marketing campaigns, and participation in trade fairs, exhibitions, and business matchmaking events can raise awareness and generate interest among Swiss importers and consumers. Highlighting the unique selling points and competitive advantages of Egyptian products can enhance their appeal in Switzerland.

Trade, finance and logistics through providing support for trade finance facilities, logistics infrastructure, and transportation networks can facilitate the export process and reduce transaction costs for Egyptian exporters. Improving logistics efficiency and reducing trade barriers can enhance the competitiveness of Egyptian exports in the Swiss market.

Focusing on value-added products and services that cater to specific demands and preferences in the Swiss market can help Egyptian exporters differentiate their offerings and capture market share. Investing in research, innovation, and product development to meet evolving consumer trends and preferences in Switzerland can drive export growth.

Establishing strategic partnerships and collaborations between Egyptian and Swiss businesses can facilitate trade relationships and open new export opportunities. Joint ventures, distribution agreements, and partnerships with Swiss companies can provide Egyptian exporters with access to distribution channels, market knowledge, and expertise to penetrate the Swiss market effectively.

By addressing these factors and implementing targeted strategies to promote Egyptian exports to Switzerland, we can unlock the potential for increased trade volumes and strengthen economic ties between our two countries.

How substantial are Swiss investments in Egypt, and is there room for growth?

The size of Swiss investments in Egypt amounts to $2.1bn in 433 projects, according to data from the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Cairo considers this figure to be small and believes it should double consider Switzerland’s strong economy and the entities operating there, along with its robust financial system.

I believe there are opportunities to increase the volume of Swiss investments in Egypt during the coming period. Several factors contribute to this potential.

Egypt has made significant strides in improving its investment climate, including implementing economic reforms, enhancing regulatory transparency, and strengthening investor protections. A stable investment environment encourages Swiss companies to consider expanding their presence in Egypt.

Additionally, Egypt offers opportunities for investment across various sectors, including renewable energy, infrastructure, healthcare, ICT, agribusiness, tourism, and financial services. By highlighting these sectors’ potential and providing support and information to Swiss investors, we can facilitate increased investment flows.

Switzerland and Egypt maintain strong bilateral relations, which can serve as a foundation for deepening economic cooperation and fostering increased investment. Leveraging existing diplomatic ties and collaboration frameworks can facilitate business interactions and investment partnerships between the two countries.

Organizing trade missions, business delegations, investment forums, and networking events can help showcase investment opportunities in Egypt to Swiss businesses. These initiatives provide platforms for dialogue, partnership building, and knowledge exchange, ultimately contributing to increased investment flows.

Exploring opportunities for public-private partnerships (PPPs) in key sectors such as infrastructure and renewable energy can attract Swiss investment capital and expertise to support Egypt’s development objectives. Collaboration between governments, businesses, and international financial institutions can drive investment in priority projects.

Promotion of Investment Incentives: Highlighting investment incentives, such as tax breaks, investment guarantees, and special economic zones, can attract Swiss investors seeking favourable conditions for business operations. Clear communication of these incentives can enhance Switzerland’s attractiveness as an investment destination.

By actively promoting these factors and fostering an enabling environment for investment, we can work towards increasing the volume of Swiss investments in Egypt, contributing to economic growth, job creation, and mutual prosperity for both countries.

Which sectors offer promising investment opportunities for Swiss companies in Egypt?

Swiss companies may see opportunities to invest in various sectors in Egypt, depending on factors such as market demand, regulatory environment, and comparative advantage. Some of the most promising sectors for Swiss investment in Egypt may include renewable energy and infrastructure development. Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals as well as ICT and Digital Innovation.

Swiss companies specializing in information technology, telecommunications, software development, and digital solutions may find opportunities to partner with Egyptian firms or invest in the digital economy.

Agribusiness: Egypt’s agricultural sector offers opportunities for investment in areas such as agribusiness, food processing, agricultural technology, and sustainable agriculture practices. Swiss companies with expertise in agriculture, food production, and agribusiness may find opportunities to participate in Egypt’s agricultural value chain. Tourism and Hospitality: Egypt’s tourism industry, with its rich cultural heritage, historical sites, and resorts, presents opportunities for investment in tourism infrastructure, hospitality services, and tourism-related activities. Swiss companies in the tourism and hospitality sector may find opportunities to invest in hotels, resorts, travel agencies, and tour operators.

Finally, financial services: Egypt’s growing economy and expanding financial sector offer opportunities for Swiss companies in banking, insurance, asset management, and fintech.

These are just a few examples of sectors where Swiss companies may see opportunities to invest in Egypt. Ultimately, the attractiveness of a sector for investment depends on various factors, including market dynamics, regulatory framework, investment incentives, and the specific expertise and interests of Swiss companies.

Has the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Egypt received any complaints or requests to exit the Egyptian market?

As the Chairperson of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, I can affirm that no formal complaints or exit requests have been filed by our member companies. Our chamber is committed to nurturing positive business relations and proactively addressing any issues. We ensure continuous dialogue with our members to support their business endeavours in Egypt.

What key actions has the Chamber taken to bolster investment in Egypt?

Efforts undertaken by the Swiss Chamber of Commerce to support investment in Egypt may include two pillars; clear misperceptions about the investment environment and the Egyptian market in general explaining the pattern and restoring the TRUST between both parties.  Facilitating Networking: The chamber may organize events, conferences, and networking opportunities to connect Swiss investors with potential business partners, government officials, and local stakeholders in Egypt. These platforms can foster relationships and facilitate investment opportunities.

The chamber may offer information, research, and resources to Swiss businesses interested in investing in Egypt. This could include market reports, regulatory guidance, and insights into the business environment in Egypt to help companies make informed investment decisions.      

 The chamber may advocate on behalf of Swiss businesses operating in Egypt or seeking to invest in the country. The chamber may actively promote trade and investment opportunities in Egypt through various channels, including its website, publications, and outreach activities. As well, the chamber may provide practical support services to Swiss businesses looking to invest in Egypt, such as assistance with market entry strategies, business matchmaking, legal and financial advice, and logistical support.

Lastly, the chamber may collaborate with government agencies, industry associations, and other stakeholders in both Switzerland and Egypt to create a conducive environment for investment.

Can you provide data on Swiss tourism to Egypt, particularly over the past year, and what are the projections for this year?

A: While official statistics are not available due to the decentralized nature of the tourism industry, our estimate suggests approximately 130,000 Swiss tourists visit Egypt annually. It’s important to note that the focus isn’t solely on numbers; the quality of tourists, their consumption patterns, and their spending behaviours are indicative of a significant return on investment. We anticipate maintaining or possibly increasing these numbers by the year’s end.

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