Representatives from the New Zealand Embassy in Cairo recently contacted Alaa Ezz, Secretary-General and CEO of the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce to lay out a vision on boosting bilateral trade between the two countries.
Ezz said that New Zealand should consider more than just Egypt’s market of 101 million for exporting. Egypt enjoyed preferential trade access to markets with a population of over 2.7 billion consumers.
Ezz added that New Zealand businesses were invited to use Egypt as hub for processing and re-exportation so as to enjoy the benefits of Egypt’s various free trade agreements. To utilize these a 35% local content would need to be included. He advised this could consist of sending bulk ingredient to Egypt for processing and then repackaging.
He suggested freight costs could be recouped through the savings gained from the preferential tariff free access Egypt enjoyed.
The secretary general reiterated several times during the call that Egypt was not seeking New Zealand business’ investment. Rather, New Zealand and Egyptian companies ‘needed to be better linked’.
New Zealand firms were encouraged to provide brands and the assurance of high quality goods. Egyptian businesses in turn would provide the ‘final assembly’ for the required local content component (e.g. processing and packaging), an inexpensive labour force, and tariff free market access.
Ezz noted Egypt was working to position itself as an alternative trade hub to Dubai. Currently 40% of all global trade passed through Egypt’s Suez Canal making Egypt both well connected and centrally located to markets in Africa, Europe and the Gulf. Egypt, he said had been slow to adopt the necessary reforms which had witnessed the trade prominence of Dubai in the region over the past twenty. “We are now twenty years behind – but catching up fast”.
New Zealand representatives explained that food and beverage were among New Zealand’s strongest export areas, particularly in protein and dairy. He advised Egypt was developing 1.5 million acres of land reclamation for organic farm production. This included food production such as dairy and crops.