Strong Economy Key for Egypt’s Future Democracy: UK Minister

The UK has repeated its commitment to helping Egyptians rebuild their country, and called economic revival the key to Egypt’s security and democracy.

The commitment comes a day before the UK’s Middle East Minister Tobias Ellwood starts on Tuesday a three-day visit to Egypt, during which he will attend a conference on doing business with Egypt, expected to be attended by Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab.

Ellwood leads a British trade delegation from over 40 leading British companies from the energy, construction, and retail sectors looking to do business in Egypt.

The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office said the objective of the visit is “to boost trade and increase British investment in Egypt.”

“This significant trade mission underlines Britain’s commitment to helping the Egyptian people build a successful future for their country – an Egypt that is more secure, more democratic, and more inclusive,” Ellwood said in a statement.

“Key to this future is a dynamic economy that creates jobs and opportunities for all,” he added.

According official figures, in the last fiscal year British investment totalled over $5bn, more than investment from all other non-Arab countries put together.

“As the number one investor in Egypt, Egypt does not have a more important economic partner than Britain,” the minister said.

Egypt is listed as UK’s 42nd largest global export market and the fourth largest export market for UK products and services in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Records show that UK exports of goods to Egypt suffer because of the continuing disruptions that started in 2011, falling by 11 percent to £921million year-on-year in 2012 whilst UK imports of goods dropped by 21 percent to £624million over the same period.

“Britain stands ready to support Egypt implement economic reforms both to help make a more attractive environment for business and investment as well as making sure that economic growth benefits all Egyptians and meets their real and pressing demands for social justice,” Ellwood said.

“Together, these reforms will mean Egypt can build a strong, dynamic economy that creates jobs and lifts people out of poverty,” he added.

“The (Egyptian) economy is not likely to recover significantly until structural reform of the economy is undertaken,” UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) said in a report published last year.

Prior to the January 2011 revolution, bilateral trade figures had increased yearly since 2000 and continued on the upward trend through the financial crisis.

The UK’s top exports in 2012 to Egypt were metalliferous ores & metal scrap, fruit & vegetables, general industrial machinery & equipment, and medicinal & pharmaceutical products.

The UK’s trade mission is organized by UKTI, the FCO’s business arm.

The conference on doing business in Egypt will be co-hosted by the British-Egyptian Business Association.

Source: Ahram Online