A look back on a year of challenges and achievements.
Cairo- December 30, 2020
Trade and industry have always been priority issues for the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI). Through vigorous efforts, MTI managed to realize a number of achievements over the year, in spite of the global economic repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic.
"At a time when international trade is facing difficulties due to the global spread of Covid-19, Egyptian exports amounted to $22.8 billion year on year during the first 11 months of 2020, slightly down from $23.364 billion in 2019," Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea said, noting that it is expected to exceed the barrier of $25 billion by the end of the year.
Similarly, Egyptian imports fell significantly by 12% during the period from January to November of 2020, to reach $58.106 billion compared to around $65.828 billion during the same period a year earlier.
Egypt's trade balance deficit also recorded a remarkable decline of 17%, registering $35.306 billion compared to $42.464 billion, which attests to a successful plan by the ministry to rationalize imports through deepening local manufacturing.
The key drivers of export growth during the first 11 months of the year were the sectors of building materials, medical and food industries, registering $5.590 billion, $488 million and $3.155 billion respectively.
Egypt's largest export markets during this period included: the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the US and Italy, with shipments worth $2.660 billion, $1.520 billion, $1.424 billion, $1.385 billion and $1.113 billion respectively.
During the year, the MTI launched the Arab-African Trade Bridges Program, organized 23 trade missions, provided export opportunities worth $573 million through its affiliate Egyptian Commercial Service (ECS), and signed a cooperation agreement with Iraq in the field of exhibitions and anti-dumping measures.
It also announced a full customs exemption for 600 goods traded between Egypt and the Mercosur as of September 2020, under the free trade agreement signed with the South American trade bloc, including: cement, citrus fruits, mineral oils and natural gas.
Moreover, the ministry managed to resolve the issue of Kenyan authorities imposing customs duties on Egyptian exports in violation of the COMESA Agreement, and to extend the exemption granted to other countries of the bloc until June 30, 2021.
"Egypt has made significant progress in the industrial sector too," Gamea said. Industrial growth rate hit 6.3% during the fiscal year 2019/2020, and its contribution in the country's GDP rose to 17.1% compared to 16.4% in the previous fiscal year, with a value of EGP 942 billion.
Public industrial investments amounted to EGP 49 billion during the fiscal year 2019/2020, making up about 10.3% of total public investments, and the employment rate in the industrial sector stood at 28.2% of the total Egyptian workforce, leading to a decrease in unemployment to 10.1% in 2020 from 13.1% in 2015.
The MTI established 7 new industrial complexes at an investment cost of EGP 4,676 billion in the governorates of Alexandria, the Red Sea, al-Gharbeya, Beni Suef, Minya, Sohag and Luxor, offering 1,657 units for the industries of engineering, food, chemicals, textiles, building materials, ready-made garments and plastics.
Furthermore, 6 other complexes are currently being completed as part of the ministry's plan to establish a total of 13 new industrial complexes, housing 4,317 industrial units and providing nearly 43,000 jobs.
The number of factories that started actual production during the year amounted to 1,404 in various industrial activities, creating 281,000 new job opportunities in 26 governorates, with investments worth EGP 357.2 million.
Other accomplishments included: offering 14.757 million square meters of land in 13 industrial zones through the industrial investment map, issuing 11,597 operating licenses for industrial facilities; in addition to the completion of the first phase of Robbiki Leather City, which offers a total of 213 production units for 195 investors over an area of 176 feddans (182.6 acres).