Aug 05, 2014 - 9:00am

Work with the Egyptians

Vice President, Middle East Affairs


Minister of Industry Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour and the Minister of Investment Ashraf Salman at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC.
Minister of Industry Mounir Fakhry Abdel-Nour and the Minister of Investment Ashraf Salman at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Washington, DC. Photographer: Ian Wagreich / © U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

In a frolicking, light-hearted tune, the pop band The Bangles told us to “Walk like an Egyptian” in the 1980s. The song raced up the charts and, in 1987, topped the year-end Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. As it enters a new era underscored by stability and bold leadership, there is an opportunity for Egypt to race forward on the economic charts by advancing policy and regulatory reforms while promoting commercial opportunities that encourage more trade and investment. In this promising new environment, the refrain that captures the outlook of the U.S. business community toward Egypt is “Work with the Egyptians.”

Not to imply that we haven’t been. American companies have significant, long-standing investments in Egypt as well as a proven track record of good stewardship and positive contributions to local Egyptian communities. What I mean is that the time is ripe to build on our prior work to promote a renewed and strengthened bilateral economic relationship that deepens our commercial ties to the benefit of both countries.

To that end, the Chamber’s U.S.-Egypt Business Council in collaboration with our partner, the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, recently hosted two distinguished guests who have a great deal of responsibility in terms of guiding Egypt’s economic future – the Minister of Trade & Industry, Mounir Abdel Nour, and the Minister of Investment, Ashraf Salman.

From our discussion with them, it is clear both Ministers understand the Chamber shares their objective of advancing economic opportunity in Egypt to create jobs, stimulate entrepreneurism, and encourage inward investment. Simply put, our commitment to Egypt and our support for a dynamic and strong economic partnership between our two countries remains unchanged. And we firmly believe American businesses can and will play a significant role in helping to cultivate key sectors and propel Egypt's economy forward.

From major infrastructure projects, such as expanding the Suez Canal and developing the mineral rich Golden Triangle area, to cutting edge opportunities like transforming Egypt into a hub for biopharmaceutical research and building up its tech sector, the opportunities in Egypt for U.S. companies referenced by the Ministers are vast.

And our Egyptian allies assert they are taking important steps to regain the confidence of investors and the business community, such as abiding by the rule of law and shaping incentives to invest, to innovate, and to adopt new technologies.  In an effort to generate a climate that welcomes investment, the Egyptians are also reviewing laws governing industry, trade, competition, and property rights all with an eye toward creating greater certainty while reducing bureaucratic hurdles.

As the home to the only organization in the United States dedicated solely to promoting the bilateral economic relationship between the U.S. and Egypt, the Chamber will continue to be at the forefront of efforts to cement this relationship and forge new partnerships. In November, we will lead a large business mission of American business executives to Cairo to engage Egyptian leaders in government and business and explore opportunities for increased trade and investment. We welcome you to join us.

The opportunity is here and it’s clear. To borrow from the Bangles, let’s do more to "Walk with and Work with the Egyptians." If we don’t, our global competitors will be glad to do the dance.

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About the Author

About the Author

Steve Lutes headshot
Vice President, Middle East Affairs

Steve Lutes is executive director Middle East Affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He is responsible for managing the U.S.-Egypt Business Council, U.S.-Iraq Business Initiative, the U.S.-GCC Business Initiative, and serves as executive director for each.