Supporting a successful transition to democracy in Egypt is a top priority for the United States Government. We are offering a range of new transition initiatives that target Egyptian priorities such as inclusive economic growth, job creation, rights and participation, and accountable and effective government. These are in addition to our ongoing economic aid, security assistance, and exchange programs, which contribute to Egypt’s development, promote regional peace and stability, and strengthen people-to-people ties.
The United States is pursuing several key economic initiatives to promote the broad-based prosperity that will help a democratic transition succeed, the components of which are being developed in consultation with the Egyptian government and the United States Congress. These initiatives will address Egypt’s imminent balance of payment crisis, help to stabilize its economy, advance investment and trade with the United States and support small and medium enterprise development in Egypt.
We are creating an Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund, which will invest in promising small and medium enterprises (SMEs). Moreover, the Fund will act as a catalyst, attracting others to invest with it. The Fund will be a not-for-profit, privately-managed corporation governed by a mixed Egyptian-American board of directors. We will launch the Fund with an initial $60 million contribution and seek to increase the capitalization in the coming years subject to future congressional authorization.
We are launching a program to provide $250 million in financing to mobilize Egyptian bank lending to SMEs. The financing will help small businesses to grow and create jobs.
We are working with Egypt to support a broad economic reform program, backed by the international community, to relieve Egypt’s near-term fiscal and balance of payments pressures and, over time, support the Egyptian government’s plans for innovative development projects to strengthen Egypt’s economy. As President Obama outlined in his May 2011 speech on the Arab Awakening, we envisage a package of up to $1 billion in such assistance.
We are working with Egypt to advance investment and trade with the United States. We are supporting reforms to improve the investment climate, and helping Egyptian businesses take full advantage of the U.S. duty-free entry program for certain products.
In addition, since the revolution, the United States has provided $90 million for democratic development and $100 million for economic recovery. Democratic transition assistance has supported Egyptian priorities such as:
Conducting Elections: U.S.-funded projects provided technical expertise on best practices in election administration and campaigning and supported election monitoring and voter education programs. (The United States does not provide any funding to political parties or candidates.)
Engaging Youth: Programs aim to increase young Egyptians’ knowledge of democratic processes and develop their political-party building skills.
Strengthening Independent Labor Organizations: U.S. assistance is helping Egypt’s independent worker organizations to establish democratic management structures and to advocate for their members in collective bargaining negotiations.
Protecting Human Rights: Projects assist Egyptian organizations as they monitor human rights violations, provide legal assistance to victims of human rights abuses, foster religious tolerance, and promote the equal status of women and minorities.
Economic recovery activities target several key goals, including:
Creating Jobs: Our assistance is helping to create short-term employment through projects that extend clean water and wastewater services to poor communities. Other programs provide young Egyptians with training and internships in key sectors such as tourism and agriculture.
Supporting Entrepreneurs: To help Egyptian entrepreneurs thrive, projects offer mentorship opportunities and connect start-up companies with financing. One such initiative provides start-up loans to 7,500 young Egyptians, many of whom live in the country’s poorest governorates.
Promoting Women Business Owners: We are helping women-owned businesses maximize their job-creation potential by expanding their access to capital and offering specialized management training.
ONGOING BILATERAL ASSISTANCE AND EXCHANGES
Over the last three decades, U.S. non-military assistance to Egypt has contributed to many of the country’s development gains. For example, U.S. assistance has expanded access to clean drinking water and sanitation to more than 20 million Egyptians where no such service was previously available. U.S. assistance has helped to achieve Egypt’s dramatic decrease in infant mortality—in 1979, 130 out of every 1,000 infants died after childbirth; today, that rate has fallen to 25 out of 1,000. The United States invested in 13 power sector projects that account (directly and indirectly) for roughly one-third of Egypt’s present power capacity. Since 2005, we have sent more than 2,200 Egyptians to the United States for university degrees and training. Since 1993, the United States has contributed to the protection of Egypt’s vast cultural heritage through more than 70 conservation, restoration, and training projects in partnership with the Egyptian antiquities sector, including crucial efforts such as groundwater-lowering at the Giza Plateau and Luxor.
Today, examples of ongoing bilateral economic assistance to Egypt include:
Promoting Entrepreneurship: The Global Entrepreneurship Program promotes the founding of new businesses and has created a network of “angel investors,” who provide seed funding for promising ventures.
Increasing Youth Employment: The Value Chain Training Project prepares agricultural students for employment. Since 2008, the project has helped 4,350 graduates find work in the agriculture sector.
Supporting SME Development: To help improve the ease of doing business, we are supporting the establishment of centers to streamline registration, licenses and permits. The first such center opened in Alexandria in June 2012, and with U.S. support, similar centers will be opened in all governorates in Egypt.
Academic and Professional Exchanges
The United States sponsors more than a dozen academic exchange programs with Egypt. They include a large Fulbright Program for students and scholars, the English Access Microscholarship Program, through which nearly 1,000 underserved Egyptian secondary school students learn English annually, the Student Leaders program, which provides an opportunity for undergraduates to intern and study for the summer in the United States, and a youth leadership exchange program that brings high school students to U.S. high schools.
We also sponsor an array of professional exchanges. These bring government officials, youth leaders, women leaders and journalists for three-week visits to meet their counterparts in the United States; place emerging Egyptian leaders in fellowships in the fields of legislative affairs and economic empowerment; bring Egyptian civic leaders to the United States for fellowships with community-based organizations. Other exchanges target civil society activists and academics in higher education.
The U.S. Government’s Foreign Military Financing (FMF) program, which has amounted to $1.3 billion annually, underpins strong U.S.-Egyptian security relations and works to develop the Egyptian military as a professional and disciplined defense force. FMF helps Egyptian forces contribute to regional security, promote adherence to international norms of human rights, support military modernization, and improve their interoperability with the U.S. military. International Military Education and Training (IMET) provides professional military education at U.S. military academies to Egyptian military members.