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Financial Reform in Egypt

By Dr. Ibrahim Fawzy
President Egyptian General Authority for Investment (1998)

Egypt's comprehensive financial reform package and wide-ranging economic restructuring through liberalization of its foreign trade and investment regime, have put the country's economy into a very strong position with good growth prospects offering excellent opportunities for both foreign and domestic investment.

This has been achieved by a tremendous reforming drive which has seen the complete rehabilitation of Egypt's infrastructure, introduction of a tight monetary policy, tax reforms, trade liberalization, privatization and expansion of the private sector's role in the national economy.

In this respect the Investment law provides a wide range of incentives to encourage both domestic and foreign investors to pursue their projects in Egypt.

The General Authority for Investment (GAFI) is the government agency responsible for investment regulations. The law guarantees a wide range of privileges, incentives and tax exemption packages for both the inland and free zone projects, which are now mushrooming rapidly in Egypt.

All investments, whether domestic or foreign , are treated equally. Wholly foreign-owned projects or joint ventures are permitted and all investors have the right to acquire land and property for projects. Investment projects are free from price controls and profit ceilings and the law offers guarantees against expropriation. Inland projects can receive a five-year tax exemption period from the first fiscal year following the start of production. Projects set up in new urban communities, industrial zones and remote areas are exempted from tax for 10 years and investments in New Valley have a 20 year exemption. Free zone investment is not limited by restrictions on the type of investment and the free zones have been equipped with all the infrastructure necessary for industrial production and warehousing operations. Manufacturers may apply for private free zone status to obtain such incentives as life-time tax exemption and exemption from import and capital goods duties, and can enjoy the absence of restrictions on exports. Duties on domestic sales are applied to import components only.

To further boost the investment drive, the Egyptian government has also recently embarked on a major economic initiative allowing Egyptian and foreign investors to participate in infrastructure projects on a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) basis. These projects include power stations, new roads and highways and new airports. Tenders for each of these fields are handled by the ministry responsible for the sector.

In addition to a legal and regulatory environment which is conductive to investment, Egypt's human resources, adequate modern infrastructure, strategic location and growing domestic market all offer important advantages to foreign investors.
Egypt occupies a strategic geographical location straddling some the most important maritime shipping routes, including the Suez Canal, and has various ports linking it to the region and beyond. Egypt also enjoys one of the largest and most diversified markets in the Middle East and Africa and has preferential customs treatment with most countries in the region.

The combination of these factors has created an attractive investment climate in Egypt. Given the stability and soundness of the government's economic policies and the overall improvement in the investment climate, foreign investors should take a serious look at sharing in Egypt's new economic success. GAFI will be pleased to offer any further information required.

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