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EG23_EC_AmCham_Tarek tawfik

EGYPT - Economy

Tarek Tawfik

President, AmCham Egypt

Bio

Tarek Tawfik is a Member of the Economic Advisory Board of the Prime Minister of Egypt. He is the deputy chairman of the federation of Egyptian industries, He also serves as deputy chairman of ECES, and first vice president of BUSINESSMED. Tawfik is also a board member of several organizations, including GAFI, TSFE, Egyptian Countryside Development Company, Egyptian Food Safety Authority, Export Development Fund, Agricultural Bank of Egypt, and Egyptian Poultry Federation. He holds a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from Cairo University, a master’s of engineering from California Polytechnic State University (Pomona), and an MBA from San Francisco State University.

"AmCham is one of the leading actors when it comes to policy advocacy and working closely with the government on policy reforms."
Tarek Tawfik, President of AmCham Egypt, talks to TBY about  cultivating a business-friendly environment in Egypt for US companies.

What are the main objectives of AmCham Egypt, and how do you work to meet these goals?

AmCham Egypt advocates for a business-friendly environment and for the advancement of trade and investment between Egypt and the US. These efforts are led by AmCham’s 24 sector-focused committees that address issues of importance to the business community and draft position papers that are regularly shared with policymakers. We have a competent executive team that manages the day-to-day operations of AmCham Egypt. The board of governors sets the guidelines and the pace, while the executive team is commissioned to execute the plans. AmCham Egypt is an inclusive networking venue, given that its membership base comprises more than 1,000 of the prominent companies operating in Egypt.

What challenges and opportunities do you foresee for American businesses operating in Egypt?

Egypt’s business environment has always been challenging; however, the business community is accustomed to confronting and navigating these challenges, which often create new opportunities for growth and development. With a population of approximately 104 million, Egypt presents immense prospects due to its diverse economy. It stands out in the region with a strong agricultural base, a diversified industrial sector, and a thriving services sector. Additionally, its strategic location, proximity to Europe, and logistical advantages, such as the Suez Canal, enhance its economic potential. The country’s ability to diversify its economy will reduce its dependence on single commodities such as oil, making it more resilient to global fluctuations. Even during the pandemic, Egypt maintained a healthy growth rate, showcasing the economy’s adaptability and diversity. Still, some challenges are self-inflicted, particularly related to monetary policies that lacked foresight. Risky decisions led to short-term borrowing instruments and dependence on volatile capital inflows. Global crises, such as COVID-19 and the Ukraine war, had an immediate impact on financing tools, causing cracks in the system. Also, traditional partners, such as Gulf countries, now require more responsible financial management and tangible assets as collateral. This pivotal moment may lead to significant divestitures across sectors where the government has over invested.

What advantages does Egypt offer to investors compared to other countries in the region, particularly in terms of labor availability and the diversity of its economy?

The US possesses the highest and most resilient technology globally, particularly in areas like AI. AI is rapidly advancing, leading to infrastructure challenges to accommodate companies’ ambitions. This acceleration is unprecedented worldwide, characterized by shortages of GPU chips that facilitate AI applications such as Chat GPT. The US excels in various sectors, including pharmaceuticals, medical services, and renewables, knowledge economy evolving at a rapid pace. Egypt could emerge as an attractive regional hub for American companies offering opportunities for production and regional production and service hubs. Moreover, Egypt can serve as a gateway to Africa and a hub for the Middle East. Many multinational US companies already have a strong presence in Egypt, utilizing it as a regional base. In recent years, ICT and knowledge-based companies have established a significant foothold in Egypt, utilizing the local labor force and leveraging it as an outsourcing hub for the region.

How do you envision the American Chamber of Commerce moving forward?

AmCham is one of the leading actors when it comes to policy advocacy and working closely with the government on policy reforms, and we will continue to do that as a partner to the government. We have also been witnessing the warming up of relations between both countries, politically, in the last few years and are capitalizing on that by extending more business visits and encouraging more interactions in several sectors, primarily renewable energy, supply chain, logistics, transportation, ICT, and oil and gas. That is our overall mission—to continue to act as an accelerator of American investments in the country for the coming years.

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