Kerry praises Egypt’s economic reforms

Kerry praises Egypt’s economic reforms

Kerry praises Egypt’s economic reforms

US Secretary of State Kerry, Jordanian King Abdullah II, Egyptian President el-Sisi and Palestinian President Abbas (L to R) meet in Sharm el-Sheikh. AP Photo

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on March 13 urged business executives to invest in Egypt, praising the government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi for “bold” economic reforms aimed at restoring investor confidence.

Addressing the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Egypt on the sidelines of an investment conference in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh, Kerry said more private investment could help Egypt’s economy achieve annual growth rates in double digits. He pledged U.S. support for further reforms, which he said would make doing business in Egypt easier and protect foreign investments.

“The United States is eager, ready and willing to be a catalyst in Egypt’s economic development,” Kerry said.

“We respect the efforts you’re already making and we want to help,” Kerry added.

Egypt hopes the conference will help boost investment in an economy still recovering from years of political turmoil after a 2011 uprising toppled veteran leader Hosni Mubarak. Investment Minister Ashraf Salman told Reuters he expected Egypt to clinch deals at the summit worth $15-20 billion.

Kerry was due to meet el-Sisi on March 15, as well as Jordan’s King Abdullah and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas.

A senior State Department official said Egypt had taken “meaningful” reforms over the past year, including tackling wasteful fuel subsidies and refining the tax code.

The United States is among Egypt’s top three trade partners and U.S. firms are the second-largest source of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Egypt.

FDI flows in Egypt have declined since 2009 but are now picking up, says the International Monetary Fund. It has put FDI over the past three years at just 1.5 percent of Egypt’s gross domestic product.
In his meeting with el-Sisi, Kerry is likely to discuss economic and regional issues, including the growing threat from Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants, the official said.

ISIL’s Egypt wing has claimed responsibility for a series of attacks in the Sinai Peninsula that killed more than 30 members of the security forces in January.

Kerry is not expected to pledge military assistance to Egypt despite el-Sisi’s calls for such aid.