Trade and Industry Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid said on Tuesday that the global financial crisis was coming to an end and that Egypt should brace itself for stepped-up competition from the international market.
Speaking at a symposium organized by the Canada-Egypt Business Council, Rachid said that Egypt could stand to attract more foreign investment in the industrial sector, pointing to the need to increase national productivity in order to compete with goods imported from abroad.
The minister admitted to past government mistakes, such as the creation of ineffective jobs that did little to boost productivity or production quality. He noted that his ministry was currently investigating more than 250,000 reported violations in different sectors.
He also admitted that the scarcity of available land outside the capital was impeding industrial and commercial investment opportunities at a time when each province had some 15,000 to 20,000 young people seeking employment.
"The Egyptian economy survived the global crisis thanks to the government’s reform policies," Rachid said, pointing out that domestic sales of steel and cement had risen 32 per cent during the crisis due to the booming construction sector. "This happened in only four other countries."
"While foreign investors stepped back a little, local investment went on to achieve a five per cent growth rate," the minister said.
At the symposium, Cairo Chamber of Commerce President Ali Moussa called for the elimination of red tape so as to encourage domestic trade. "Currently, there are 13 licensing and 22 control bodies that local investors must deal with, which is too much bureaucracy," Moussa said.
Federation of Egyptian Industries President Galal el-Zorba, for his part, called for further reform of the industrial sector in order to offset recent losses incurred by diminishing demand and increasing inflation.
Translated from the Arabic Edition.