Egypt offers Turks barter on business

Egypt offers Turks barter on business

ISTANBUL- Hürriyet Daily News
Egypt offers Turks barter on business

This photo shows textile workers at a plant in Istanbul. Turkey may make use of Egypt’s tax advantages, says Sabbour. AA photo

Egypt could become a gateway for Turkish firms intent on entering new markets in Africa, the head of a top Egyptian business group has said.

“Turkish firms are interested in penetrating 19 African countries through Egypt,” Hussein Sabbour, chairman of Egyptian Business Association (EBA), told the Hürriyet Daily News yesterday at the 12th Egyptian-Turkish Business Council meeting in Istanbul.

As a member of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), Egypt currently pays no tax or custom fees on goods traded with other member states, which include Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. “This is a great advantage for a Turkish firm to invest in developing countries in Africa.”

Sabbour said Egyptian construction and consulting firms had also developed an interest in partnering with Turkish construction companies which are already active in Russia and Turkmenistan. “If we are opening the door to Africa to Turkish firms, we would also partner with Turkish firms for construction projects in Russia and Turkmenistan.”

Another reason for the increased interest of Turkish firms in post-revolution Egypt, Sabbour said, is to export products, primarily textiles, to the U.S. market without customs fees. “Turkey has to pay a significant customs and tax fees for exporting products to the U.S. This could be avoided by partnering with Egyptian firms.”

He also said Turkish and Egyptian firms were currently having talks about their partnerships without naming companies.

“Bilateral trade between Turkey and Egypt had reached to $3.48 billion as of November. We aim to reach $10 billion in a few years’ time,” Ismail El-Nagdy, Egyptian deputy minister of industry and foreign trade, told the Daily News. He said Roll-On/Roll-Off (RORO) services between the Mediterranean Turkish port of Mersin and the Egyptian city of Alexandria would begin operating next year and would boost trade between the countries.

Turkey currently has nearly $5 billion of direct investment in Egypt, although the figure is expected to double in the next five years, according to Zuhal Mansfield, the head of Turkish-Egyptian Business Council at the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey.

Nearly 7,000 firms in Turkey are manufacturing and exporting products for the Egyptian market, while 200 Turkish firms are currently operating with 80 plants in Egypt, said Abderahman Salaheldin, Egypt’s envoy to Ankara.

Despite the political unrest in Egypt that started in January, Turkey’s exports rose to $2.29 billion in the first 10 months of the year from $1.89 billion compared with the same period last year. Egypt’s exports to Turkey also rose to $1.9 billion in the first 10 months of the year, up from $795 million in the same period of 2010.