Entering the Egyptian market can offer your business various new opportunities. Egypt’s vibrant and resilient economy welcomes foreign investment, while international companies see its strategic location as a potential launch pad for Global Expansion. The Arab Republic of Egypt is at the heart of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, with ports on the Red Sea and the Mediterranean, opening the door to the Near East, southern Europe and farther into Africa. Egypt also controls the Suez Canal – a vital gateway for world trade linking the Med to the Red Sea and into the Arabian Gulf and the Indian Ocean and sea routes to the Far East.
Egypt is a significant economic force in the region with a membership in the Greater Arab Free Trade Area, the African Free Trade Zone and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa. Globally, Egypt has a free trade agreement with the European Union (EU) and is a member of the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. Egypt is a significant oil and gas producer, with large sectors in construction, architecture, engineering, health care and telecommunications and tourism. Investment also goes into chemicals, pharmaceuticals and renewable energy. Egypt’s population of 100 million and a workforce of around 30 million include a pool of well-educated, highly-trained and often multi-lingual professionals.
Cairo, the capital of Egypt, topped the Statista Global Business Cities in Africa report based on, apart from other factors, the level of city development and its economic strength. It is one of the most populated cities in the world, with 20 million people within the Cairo Metropolis. Alexandria is Egypt’s second largest but number one on the Mediterranean. Companies entering the Egyptian Market will find most expatriate business communities based in the two major cities, with many others in the tourism industries around the coastal towns, the Sinai and Luxor.
Cairo: Most people coming to Cairo wonder how it works with its mad traffic and lawless driving, noise levels, hawkers, and masses in the streets until the early hours – but it does! It has virtually no rain but always has plenty of water, and you can see the modern architecture alongside the 4,500-year-old Pyramids.
Free Zones: Some are government-run, and some are privately managed. There are nine within the public domain, usually around ports, airports, and land and sea borders, e.g., Nasr City in Cairo, Amrya (Alexandria), Suez, Port Said, Ismailia, 6th October City (Media Zone), Damietta, Shebeen Al Koum and Qeft. Most are varied in their industrial and financial projects, with incentives and opportunities to invest with lifetimes exemptions from sales, income tax, and import and export duties. The private zones are defined by their location and proximity to factors of production tending towards individual projects. Any company can apply, depending on certain factors, and they enjoy the same benefits and privileges as the Public Zones. Among the incentives are exemption from sales and customs tax and any other fees and paying only a 1% charge on goods in and out of the duty-free zone.
Special Economic Zones: The Suez Canal Zone stretches across 460 sq. km. and connects the Mediterranean and the Red Sea. It boasts four industrial sectors and six seaports and enjoys accessibility to 10% of the world’s sea-based trade. It forms part of the country’s sustainability strategy to attract Foreign Direct Investment to its flourishing manufacturing industry.
In the Pipeline: A new phase of innovation clusters for funded projects in the IT field is being promoted through the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), encouraging university and industry collaboration. Industrial Parks in line with Eco-development and sustainability in Egypt have received support from the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). Switzerland is also part of the Country Partnership Program to curb gas emissions and waste while encouraging investment and creating job opportunities.
Wherever you decide to plant your company’s feet on Egypt’s landscape, there are specific questions that need to be asked about what office facilities are available – whether small or large, shared or more substantial premises:
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