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Egypt

1. Openness To, and Restrictions Upon, Foreign Investment

Policies toward Foreign Direct Investment

The flotation of the EGP in November 2016 and the restart of Egypt’s interbank foreign exchange FX market as part of the IMF program was a first step in restoring investor confidence that immediately attracted increased portfolio investment and should lead to increased FDI over the long term.  The stable macro-economic outlook has allowed Egypt to focus on structural reforms to support strong economic growth. The next phase of reform has included a new investment law, an industrial licensing law, a bankruptcy law and other reforms to reduce regulatory overhang and improve the ease of doing business.  Successful implementation of these reforms could give greater confidence to foreign investors. Egypt’s government has announced plans to further improve its business climate through investment promotion, facilitation, efficient business services, and advocacy of more investor friendly policies.

With a few exceptions, Egypt does not legally discriminate between Egyptian nationals and foreigners in the formation and operation of private companies.  The 1997 Investment Incentives Law was designed to encourage domestic and foreign investment in targeted economic sectors and to promote decentralization of industry away from the Nile Valley.  The law allows 100 percent foreign ownership of investment projects and guarantees the right to remit income earned in Egypt and to repatriate capital.

The new Tenders Law No. 182 of 2018 requires the government to consider both price and best value in awarding contracts and to issue an explanation following refusal of a bid.  Nevertheless, the law contains preferences for Egyptian domestic contractors, who are accorded priority if their bids do not exceed the lowest foreign bid by more than 15 percent. Additionally the new law includes a wide range of reforms, such as establishing new rules in the contracting process on good governance, sustainable development goals, transparency, competition, equal opportunity, and an improved business environment.  Egyptian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have the right under the new law to obtain up to 20 percent annually of the Government’s contracts. This aims to achieve a positive return on investment of public expenditures, along with controls to combat corruption.

The Capital Markets Law (Law 95 of 1992) and its amendments, including the most recent in February 2018, and related regulations govern Egypt’s capital markets.  Foreign investors are permitted to buy shares on the Egyptian Stock Exchange on the same basis as local investors.

The General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) is an affiliate of the Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation (MIIC) and the principal government body regulating and facilitating investment in Egypt. ”The Investor Service Center (ISC)” is an administrative unit established within GAFI that provides ”one-stop-shop” services, easing the way for global investors looking for opportunities presented by Egypt’s domestic economy and the nation’s competitive advantages as an export hub for Europe, the Arab world, and Africa.

ISC provides a full start-to-end service to investors, including assistance related to company incorporation, establishment of company branches, approval of minutes of Board of Directors and General Assemblies, increase of capital, change of activity, liquidation procedures, and other corporate-related matters.  The Center also aims to issue licenses, approvals, and permits required for investment activities, within 60 days from the date of request submissions. Other services GAFI provides include:

  • Advice and support to help in the evaluation of Egypt as a potential investment location;
  • Identification of suitable locations and site selection options within Egypt;
  • Assistance in identifying suitable Egyptian partners;
  • Aftercare and dispute settlement services.​

ISC Branches are expected to be established in all Egyptian governorates.  Egypt maintains ongoing communication with investors through formal business roundtables, investment promotion events (conferences and seminars), and one-on-one investment meetings

Limits on Foreign Control and Right to Private Ownership and Establishment

The Egyptian Companies Law does not set any limitation on the number of foreigners, neither as shareholders nor as managers or board members, except for Limited Liability Companies where the only restriction is that one of the managers should be an Egyptian national.  In addition, companies are required to obtain a commercial and tax license, and pass a security clearance process. Companies are able to operate while undergoing the often lengthy security screening process. Nevertheless, if the firm is rejected, it must cease operations and undergo a lengthy appeals process.  Businesses have cited instances where Egyptian clients were hesitant to conclude long term business contracts with foreign firms that have yet to receive a security clearance. They have also expressed concern about seemingly arbitrary refusals, a lack of explanation when a security clearance is not issued, and the lengthy appeals process.  Although the GoE has made progress in streamlining the business registration process at GAFI, its apparent overall lack of familiarity or experience of Egyptians working closely with foreign nationals has sometimes led to inconsistent and questionable treatment by banks and government officials, thus, delaying registration.

Sector-specific limitations to investment include restrictions on foreign shareholding of companies owning lands in the Sinai Peninsula.  Likewise, the Import-Export Law requires companies wishing to register in the Import Registry to be 51 percent owned and managed by Egyptians.  In 2016, the Ministry of Trade prepared an amendment to the law allowing the registration of importing companies owned by foreign shareholders, but, as of April 2019, the law had not yet been submitted to Parliament.  Nevertheless, the new Investment Law does allow wholly foreign companies, which invest in Egypt to import goods and materials.

Land/Real Estate Law 15 of 1963 explicitly prohibits foreign individual or corporation ownership of agricultural land (defined as traditional agricultural land in the Nile Valley, Delta and Oases).  The ownership of land by foreigners is governed by three laws: Law No. 15 of 1963, Law No. 143 of 1981, and Law No. 230 of 1996.  Law No. 15 stipulates that no foreigners, whether natural or juristic persons, may acquire agricultural land.  Law No. 143 governs the acquisition and ownership of desert land. Certain limits are placed on the number of feddans (one feddan is equal to approximately one hectare) that may be owned by individuals, families, cooperatives, partnerships and corporations.  Partnerships are permitted to own 10,000 feddans. Joint stock companies are permitted to own 50,000 feddans.

Under Law No. 230 non-Egyptians are allowed to own real estate (vacant or built) only under the following conditions:

  • Ownership is limited to two real estate properties in Egypt that serve as accommodation for the owner and his family (spouses and minors), in addition to the right to own real estate needed for activities licensed by the Egyptian Government.
  • The area of each real estate property does not exceed 4,000 m².
  • The real estate is not considered a historical site.

Exemption from the first and second conditions is subject to the approval of the Prime Minister. Ownership in tourist areas and new communities is subject to conditions established by the Cabinet of Ministers.  Non-Egyptians owning vacant real estate in Egypt must build within a period of five years from the date their ownership is registered by a notary public. Non-Egyptians cannot sell their real estate for five years after registration of ownership, unless the consent of the Prime Minister for an exemption is obtained.  http://www.gafi.gov.eg/English/StartaBusiness/Laws-and-  Regulations/Pages/BusinessLaws.aspx  

Other Investment Policy Reviews

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) signed a declaration with Egypt on International Investment and Multinational Enterprises on July 11, 2007, at which time Egypt became the first Arab and African country to sign the OECD Declaration, marking a new stage in Egypt’s drive to attract more FDI.

The United Nations Conference of Trade Development (UNCTAD) signed in an Investment Policy Review with Egypt in June 1999 that recognized the efforts that the GoE had made to establish an adequate investment regulatory framework and improve the business environment.

The UNCTAD Review pointed out that overcoming the limited involvement of multinational companies in manufacturing sectors with export potential such as food, garments, and electronics, would require policy emphasis on infrastructure investments, promotion of  clusters of related enterprises, and self-sustaining development. Since the publication of its policy review on Egypt, UNCTAD has assisted the government with training diplomats on investment trends, policies, and promotion, and staff on FDI statistics.

Business Facilitation

GAFI’s new ISC was launched in February 2018 at a ceremony attended by President Sisi. The ISC provides a full start-to-end service to the investor as described above.  The new Investment Law also introduces ”Ratification Offices” to facilitate the obtaining of necessary approvals, permits, and licenses within 10 days of issuing a Ratification Certificate.

Investors may fulfill the technical requirements of obtaining the required licenses through these Ratification Offices, directly through the concerned authority, or through its representatives at the Investment Window at GAFI.  The Investor Service Center is required to issue licenses within 60 days from submission. Companies can also register online. MIIC and GAFI have also launched e-establishment, e-signature, and e-payment services to facilitate establishing companies.

Outward Investment

Egypt promotes and incentivizes outward investment.  According to the Egyptian government’s FDI Markets database for the period from January 2003 to February 2019, outward investment indicated that Egyptian companies implemented 241 Egyptian FDI projects.  The estimated total value of these projects, which employed about 48,204 workers, was USD 23.86 billion.

The following countries received the largest amount of Egyptian outward investment in terms of total project value:  United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Jordan, Germany, Kenya, Libya, Morocco, Sudan, and Ethiopia. The UAE, Saudi Arabia and Algeria accounted for about 28.6 percent of the total amount.

Elsewedy Electric (Elsewedy Cables) was the largest Egyptian company investing abroad, implementing 19 projects with a total investment estimated to be USD 2.1 billion.

Egypt does not restrict domestic investors from investing abroad.

4. Industrial Policies

Investment Incentives

The Investment Law 72//2017 provides incentives to investors, including:

General Incentives:

  • All investment projects subject to the provisions of the new law enjoy the general incentives provided by it.
  • Investors are exempted from the stamp tax, fees of the notarization, registration of the memorandum of incorporation of the companies, credit facilities, and mortgage contracts associated with their business for five years from the date of registration in the Commercial Registry, in addition to the registration contracts of the lands required for a company’s establishment.
  • If the establishment is under the provisions of the new investment law, it will benefit from a 2 percent unified custom tax over all imported machinery, equipment, and devices required for the establishment of such a company.

Special Incentive Programs:

  • Investment projects established within three years of the date of the issuance of the Investment Law will enjoy a deduction from their net profit, subject to the income tax:
    • 50 percent of the investment costs for geographical region (A) (the regions the most in need of development as well as designated projects in Suez Canal Special Economic Zone and the “Golden Triangle” along the Red Sea between the cities of Safaga, Qena and El Quseer);
    • 30 percent of the investment costs to geographical region (B) (which represents the rest of the republic).
  • Provided that such deduction shall not exceed 80 percent of the paid-up capital of the company, the incentive could be utilized over a maximum of seven years.

Additional Incentive Program:

The Cabinet of Ministers may decide to grant additional incentives for investment projects in accordance with specific rules and regulations as follows:

  • The establishment of special customs ports for exports and imports of the investment projects.
  • The state may incur part of the costs of the technical training for workers.
  • Free allocation of land for a few strategic activities may apply.
  • The government may bear in full or in part the costs incurred by the investor to invest in utility connections for the investment project.
  • The government may refund half the price of the land allocated to industrial projects in the event of starting production within two years from receiving the land.

Other Incentives related to Free Zones according to Investment Law 72/2017:

  • Exemption from all taxes and customs duties.
  • Exemption from all import/export regulations.
  • The option to sell a certain percentage of production domestically if customs duties are paid.
  • Limited exemptions from labor provisions.
  • All equipment, machinery, and essential means of transport (excluding sedan cars) necessary for business operations are exempted from all customs, import duties, and sales taxes.
  • All licensing procedures are handled by GAFI. To remain eligible for benefits, investors operating inside the free zones must export more than 50 percent of their total production.
  • Manufacturing or assembly projects pay an annual charge of 1 percent of the total value of their products.
  • Excluding all raw materials, storage facilities are to pay 1 percent of the value of goods entering the free zones while service projects pay 1 percent of total annual revenue.
  • Goods in transit to specific destinations are exempt from any charges.

Other Incentives related to the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone):

  • 100 percent foreign ownership of companies.
  • 100 percent foreign control of import/​export activities.
  • Imports are exempted from customs duties and sales tax.
  • Customs duties on exports to Egypt imposed on imported components only, not the final product.
  • Fast-track visa services.
  • A full service one-stop shop for registration and licensing.
  • Allowing enterprises access to the domestic market; duties on sales to domestic market will be assessed on the value of imported inputs only.

The Ministry of Industry & Foreign Trade and the Ministry of Finance’s Decree No. 719//2007 provides incentives for industrial projects in the governorates of Upper Egypt (Upper Egypt refers to governorates in southern Egypt).  The decree provides an incentive of EGP 15,000 (approximately USD 850) for each job opportunity created by the project, on the condition that the investment costs of the project exceed EGP 15 million (approximately USD 850,000).  The decree can be implemented on both new and ongoing projects.

Foreign Trade Zones/Free Ports/Trade Facilitation

Public and private free trade zones are authorized under GAFI’s Investment Incentive Law.  Free zones are located within the national territory, but are considered to be outside Egypt’s customs boundaries, granting firms doing business within them more freedom on transactions and exchanges.  Companies producing largely for export (normally 80 percent or more of total production) may be established in free trade zones and operate using foreign currency. Free trade zones are open to investment by foreign or domestic investors.  Companies operating in free trade zones are exempted from sales taxes or taxes, and fees on capital assets and intermediate goods. The Legislative Package for the Stimulation of Investment, issued in 2015, stipulated a 1 percent duty paid on the value of commodities upon entry for storage projects and a 1 percent duty upon exit for manufacturing and assembly projects.

There are currently 11 public free trade zones in operation in the following locations: Alexandria, Damietta, East Port Said Port Zone, Ismailia, Qeft, Media Production City, Nasr City, Port Said, Shebin el Kom, and Suez.  Private free trade zones may also be established with a decree by GAFI, but are usually limited to a single project. Export-oriented industrial projects are given priority. There is no restriction on foreign ownership of capital in private free zones.

The Special Economic Zones (SEZ) Law 83//2002 allows establishment of special zones for industrial, agricultural, or service activities designed specifically with the export market in mind.  The law allows firms operating in these zones to import capital equipment, raw materials, and intermediate goods duty free. Companies established in the SEZs are also exempt from sales and indirect taxes, and can operate under more flexible labor regulations.  The first SEZ was established in the northwest Gulf of Suez.

Law 19//2007 authorized creation of investment zones, which require Prime Ministerial approval for establishment.  The government regulates these zones through a board of directors, but the zones are established, built, and operated by the private sector.  The government does not provide any infrastructure or utilities in these zones. Investment zones enjoy the same benefits as free zones in terms of facilitation of license-issuance, ease of dealing with other agencies, etc., but are not granted the incentives and tax/custom exemptions enjoyed in free zones.  Projects in investment zones pay the same tax/customs duties applied throughout Egypt. The aim of the law is to assist the private sector in diversifying its economic activities.

The Suez Canal Economic Zone, a major industrial and logistics services hub announced in 2014, is expected to include upgrades and renovations to ports located along the Suez Canal corridor, including West and East Port Said, Ismailia, Suez, Adabiya, and Ain Sokhna.  The Egyptian government has invited foreign investors to take part in the projects, which are expected to be built in several stages, the first of which is scheduled to be completed by 2020. Reported areas for investment include maritime services like ship repair services, bunkering, vessel scrapping and recycling; industrial projects, including pharmaceuticals, food processing, automotive production, consumer electronics, textiles, and petrochemicals; IT services such as research and development and software development; renewable energy; and mixed use, residential, logistics, and commercial developments.  Website for the Suez Canal Development Project: http://www.sczone.com.eg/English/Pages/default.aspx  

Performance and Data Localization Requirements

Egypt has rules on national percentages of employment and difficult visa and work permit procdeures.  The application of these provisions that restrict access to foreign worker visas has been inconsistent.  The government plans to phase out visas for unskilled workers, but as yet has not done so. For most other jobs, employers may hire foreign workers on a temporary six-month basis, but must also hire two Egyptians to be trained to do the job during that period.  Only jobs where it is not possible for Egyptians to acquire the requisite skills will remain open to foreign workers. The application of these regulations is inconsistent. The Labor Law allows Ministers to set the maximum percentage of foreign workers that may work in companies in a given sector.  There are no such sector-wide maximums for the oil and gas industry, but individual concession agreements may contain language establishing limits or procedures regarding the proportion of foreign and local employees.

No performance requirements are specified in the Investment Incentives Law, and the ability to fulfill local content requirements is not a prerequisite for approval to set up assembly projects.  In many cases, however, assembly industries still must meet a minimum local content requirement in order to benefit from customs tariff reductions on imported industrial inputs.

Decree 184//2013 allows for the reduction of customs tariffs on intermediate goods if the final product has a certain percentage of input from local manufacturers, beginning at 30 percent local content.  As the percentage of local content rises, so does the tariff reduction, reaching up to 90 percent if the amount of local input is 60 percent or above. In certain cases, a minister can grant tariff reductions of up to 40 percent in advance to certain companies without waiting to reach a corresponding percentage of local content.  In 2010, Egypt revised its export rebate system to provide exporters with additional subsidies if they used a greater portion of local raw materials.

Manufacturers wishing to export under trade agreements between Egypt and other countries must complete certificates of origin and local content requirements contained therein.  Oil and gas exploration concessions, which do not fall under the Investment Incentives Law, do have performance standards, which are specified in each individual agreement and which generally include the drilling of a specific number of wells in each phase of the exploration period stipulated in the agreement.

Egypt does not impose localization barriers on IT firms.  Egypt does not make local production a requirement for market access, does not have local content requirements, and does not impose forced technology or intellectual property transfers as a condition of market access.  But there are exceptions where the government has attempted to impose controls by requesting access to a company’s servers located offshore, or request servers to be located in Egypt and thus under the government’s control.

6. Financial Sector

Capital Markets and Portfolio Investment

To date, high returns on GoE debt have crowded out Egyptian investment in productive capacity.  The large foreign inflows Egypt witnessed in 2018 have been mostly portfolio capital, which is highly volatile.  Returns on GoE debt have begun to decrease, which could presage investment by Egyptian capital in the real economy

The Egyptian Stock Exchange (EGX) is Egypt’s registered securities exchange.  There are more than 500,000 investors registered to trade on the exchange. Stock ownership is open to foreign and domestic individuals and entities.  The GoE issues dollar-denominated and Egyptian pound-denominated debt instruments. The GoE has developed a positive outlook toward foreign portfolio investment, recognizing the need to attract foreign capital to help develop the Egyptian economy.

The Capital Market Law 95//1992, along with the Banking Law 88//2003, constitutes the primary regulatory frameworks for the financial sector.  The law grants foreigners full access to capital markets, and authorizes establishment of Egyptian and foreign companies to provide underwriting of subscriptions, brokerage services, securities and mutual funds management, clearance and settlement of security transactions, and venture capital activities.  The law specifies mechanisms for arbitration and legal dispute resolution and prohibits unfair market practices. Law 10//2009 created the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA) and brought the regulation of all non-banking financial services under its authority. In 2017, EFSA became the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA).

Settlement of transactions takes one day for treasury bonds and two days for stocks.  Although Egyptian law and regulations allow companies to adopt bylaws limiting or prohibiting foreign ownership of shares, virtually no listed stocks have such restrictions.  While a significant number of the companies listed on the exchange have been family-owned or dominated conglomerates, the exchange has gone through a period of major delisting of many companies that do not have sufficient shares or do not meet the management, fiscal, and transparency standards. Free trading of the remaining shares in many of these ventures is increasing, with a 110 percent increase in trade value and a 53 percent increase in trading volume from 2016 to 2017.  Companies are delisted from the exchange if not traded for six months.

The Higher Investment Council extended the suspension of capital gains tax for three years, until 2020 as part of efforts to draw investors back.   In 2017, the government implemented a stamp duty on all stock transactions with a duty of 0.125 percent on all buyers and sellers. Egypt’s stamp duty on stock exchange transactions includes for the first time a 0.3 percent levy for investors acquiring more than a third of a company’s stocks.

Foreign investors can access Egypt’s banking system by opening accounts with local banks, and buying and selling all marketable securities with brokerages.  The government has repeatedly emphasized its commitment to maintaining the profit repatriation system to encourage foreign investment in Egypt, especially since the pound floatation and implementation of the IMF loan program in November 2016.  The current system for profit repatriation by foreign firms requires sub-custodian banks to open foreign and local currency accounts for foreign investors (global custodians), which are exclusively maintained for stock exchange transactions. The two accounts serve as a channel through which foreign investors process their sales, purchases, dividend collections, and profit repatriation transactions using the bank’s posted daily exchange rates.  The system is designed to allow for settlement of transactions in fewer than two days.

The Egyptian credit market, open to foreigners, is vibrant and active. Repatriation of investment profits has become much easier, as there is enough available hard currency to execute FX trades. Since the floatation of the EGP in November 2016, FX trading is considered straightforward, given the reestablishment of the interbank foreign currency trading system.

Money and Banking System

Benefitting from the nation’s increasing economic stability over the past two years, Egypt’s banks have enjoyed both ratings upgrades and continued profitability.  Thanks to economic reforms, a new floating exchange system, and an Investment Law passed in 2017, the project finance pipeline is increasing after a period of lower activity.  Banking competition is improving to serve a largely untapped retail segment and the nation’s challenging, but potentially rewarding, the SME segment. The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has mandated that 20 percent of bank loans go to SMEs within the next two years).  Also, with only about a quarter to a third of Egypt’s adult population owning or sharing an account at a formal financial institution (according to press and comments from contacts), the banking sector has potential for growth and higher inclusion, which the government and banks discuss frequently.  A low median income plays a part in modest banking penetration. But the CBE has taken steps to work with banks and technology companies to expand financial inclusion.

Egypt’s banking sector is generally regarded as healthy and well-capitalized due in part to its deposit-based funding structure and ample liquidity—especially since the floatation and restoration of the interbank market.  The CBE estimates that approximately 4.3 percent of the banking sector’s loans are non-performing in 2018. Still, since 2011, a high level of exposure to government debt, accounting for over 40 percent of banking system assets, at the expense of private sector lending, has reduced the diversity of bank balance sheets and crowded out domestic investment.  Given the floatation of the Egyptian Pound and restart of the interbank trading system, Moody’s and S&P have upgraded the outlook of Egypt’s banking system to positive from stable to reflect improving macroeconomic conditions and ongoing commitment to reform.

38 banks operate in Egypt, including several foreign banks. The CBE has not issued a new commercial banking license since 1979.  The only way for a new commercial bank, whether foreign or domestic, to enter the market (except as a representative office) is to purchase an existing bank.  To this end, in 2013, QNB Group acquired National Société Générale Bank Egypt (NSGB). That same year, Emirates NBD, Dubai’s largest bank, bought the Egypt unit of BNP Paribas.  In 2015, Citibank sold its retail banking division to CIB Bank. In 2016 and 2017, Egypt indicated a desire to partially (less than 35 percent) privatize at least one (potentially two) state-owned banks and a total of 23 firms through either expanded or new listings on the Egypt Stock Exchange, though no action has been taken as of early 2018. In March 2019, Egypt began its program to privatize 23 State-Owned Enterprises with a successful minority stake in the Eastern Tobacco Company.

According to the CBE, banks operating in Egypt held EGP 4.216 trillion in total assets at the end of first quarter of 2018, of which approximately 45 percent were held by the largest five banks (the National Bank of Egypt, Banque Misr, the Commercial International Bank, Qatar National Bank Al-Ahli, and the Banque Du Caire). Egypt’s three state-owned banks (Banque Misr, Banque du Caire, and National Bank of Egypt) control nearly 40 percent of banking sector assets.

The chairman of the EGX recently stated that Egypt is allowing, even encouraging, exploration of the use of blockchain technologies across the banking community.  The FRA will review the development and most likely regulate how the banking system adopts the fast-developing blockchain systems into banks’ back-end and customer-facing processing and transactions. Seminars and discussions are beginning around Cairo, including visitors from Silicon Valley, in which leaders and experts are still forming a path forward.  While not outright banning cryptocurrencies, which is distinguished from blockchain technologies, authorities caution against speculation in unknown asset classes.

Alternative financial services in Egypt are extensive, given the large informal economy, estimated to be from 30 to 50 percent of the GDP. Informal lending is prevalent, but the total capitalization, number of loans, and types of terms in private finance is less well known.

Foreign Exchange and Remittances

Foreign Exchange

There has been significant progress in accessing hard currency since the floatation of the EGP and reestablishment of the interbank currency trading system in November 2016.  While the immediate aftermath saw some lingering difficulty of accessing currency, by 2017 most firms operating in Egypt reported having little difficulty obtaining hard currency for business purposes, such as importing inputs and repatriating profits.  In 2016 the Central Bank lifted dollar deposit limits on households and firms importing priority goods which had been in place since early 2015. With net foreign reserves at an all-time high of over USD 44 billion (March 2019), accessing foreign currency is no longer an issue.

Funds associated with investment can be freely converted into any world currency, depending on the availability of that currency in the local market.  Some firms and individuals report that the process takes time. But the interbank trading system works in general and currency is available as the foreign exchange markets continue to react positively to the government’s commitment to macro and structural reform.

The floating exchange rate operates on the principle of market supply and demand: the exchange rate is dictated by availability of currency and demand by firms and individuals.  While there is some reported informal Central Bank window guidance, the rate generally fluctuates depending on market conditions, without direct market intervention by authorities.  In general, the EGP has stabilized within an acceptable exchange rate range, which has increased the foreign exchange market’s liquidity. Since the early days following the floatation, there has been very low exchange rate volatility.

Remittance Policies

The 1992 U.S.-Egypt Bilateral Investment Treaty provides for free transfer of dividends, royalties, compensation for expropriation, payments arising out of an investment dispute, contract payments, and proceeds from sales.

The Investment Incentives Law stipulates that non-Egyptian employees hired by projects established under the law are entitled to transfer their earnings abroad.  Conversion and transfer of royalty payments are permitted when a patent, trademark, or other licensing agreement has been approved under the Investment Incentives Law.

Banking Law 88//2003 regulates the repatriation of profits and capital.  The current system for profit repatriation by foreign firms requires sub-custodian banks to open foreign and local currency accounts for foreign investors (global custodians), which are exclusively maintained for stock exchange transactions.  The two accounts serve as a channel through which foreign investors process their sales, purchases, dividend collections, and profit repatriation transactions using the bank’s posted daily exchange rates. The system is designed to allow for settlement of transactions in fewer than two days, though in practice some firms have reported short delays in repatriating profits, no longer due to availability but more due to processing steps.

Sovereign Wealth Funds

The Cabinet has approved  the establishment of a sovereign wealth fund, which will be charged with investing state funds locally and abroad across asset classes and will be tapped to manage underutilized assets.  The framework of the EGP200 billion sovereign wealth fund was issued in March of 2018. The government is collaborating with regional and European institutions to take part in forming the fund’s sector-specific units.

12. OPIC and Other Investment Insurance Programs

The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is operating in Egypt to provide the capital and risk mitigation tools that investors need to overcome the barriers faced in this region. In 2012, OPIC launched the USD 250 million Egypt Loan Guaranty Facility (ELGF), in partnership with USAID, to support bank lending and stimulate job creation. The ELGF’s main objective is to help SMEs access finance for growth and development, by providing creditors the needed guarantees to help them mitigate loan risks.  This objective goes hand-in-hand with the Central Bank of Egypt’s initiative to support SMEs. The ELGF expands lending to SMEs by supporting local partner banks as they lend to the target segment and increase access to credit for SMEs. The result is the promotion of jobs and private sector development in Egypt. The ELGF and partner banks sign a Guarantee Facility Agreement (GFA) to outline main terms and conditions of credit guarantee. The two bank partners are Commercial International Bank (CIB) and the National Bank of Kuwait (NBK).  USAID has collaborated with OPIC/ELGF and the CIB to provide training to SME owners and managers on the basics of accounting and finance, banking and loan processes, business registration, and other topics that will help SMEs access financing for business growth.

OPIC is affiliated with several renewable energy, oil and gas, and water supply projects in Egypt, as well. Apache Corporation, the largest U.S. investor in Egypt, has supported its natural gas investment with OPIC risk insurance since 2004. In December 2018, the OPIC Board approved a project to provide USD 430 million in political risk insurance to Noble Energy, Inc. to support the restoration, operation, and maintenance of a natural gas pipeline in Egypt and the supply of natural gas through a pipeline from Israel.

13. Foreign Direct Investment and Foreign Portfolio Investment Statistics

Table 2: Key Macroeconomic Data, U.S. FDI in Host Country/Economy

Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
Economic Data Year Amount Year Amount
Host Country Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (M USD ) 2017 $235,370    2018 $242,800 www.worldbank.org/en/country  
Host Country Statistical Source USG or International Statistical Source USG or International Source of Data:
BEA; IMF; Eurostat; UNCTAD, Other
U.S. FDI in partner country (M USD , stock positions) 2018 $2,244.4  2017 $9,352.0  BEA data available at https://tradingeconomics.com/egypt/foreign-direct-investment  
Host country’s FDI in the United States (M USD , stock positions) 2017  $2,960.0  2017  $2,950.5 BEA data available at http://bea.gov/international/direct_investment_multinational_companies_comprehensive_data.htm  
Total inbound stock of FDI as % host GDP N/A N/A 2017 55.63% UNCTAD data available at https://unctad.org/en/Pages/DIAE/World%20Investment%20Report/Country-Fact-Sheets.aspx  

Measurements of FDI in Egypt vary according to the source and the definitions employed to calculate the figure.  The Central Bank of Egypt records figures on quarterly and annual investment flows based on financial records for Egypt’s balance of payments statistics.  They are reported in the table below. The Ministry of Petroleum maintains statistics on investment in the oil and gas sector (which accounts for the bulk of FDI in Egypt), while GAFI has statistics on all other investments – including re-invested earnings and investment-in-kind.  Statistics are not always current. GAFI’s figures are calculated in EGP at the historical value and rate of exchange, with no allowance for depreciation, and are cumulative starting from 1971.

U.S. firms are active in a wide range of manufacturing industries, producing goods for the domestic and export markets.  U.S. investors include American Express, AIG, Ideal Standard, Apache Corporation, Bechtel, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Cargill, Citibank, Coca-Cola, Devon Energy, Dow Chemical, ExxonMobil, Eveready, General Motors, Guardian Industries, H.J.  Heinz, Johnson & Johnson, Kellogg’s, Mars, Mondelez, Microsoft, Proctor and Gamble, Pfizer, PepsiCo, Pioneer, and Xerox. Leading investors from other countries include BG, ENI-AGIP, BP, Vodaphone, and Shell (in the oil/gas sector), Unilever, Al-Futtaim, (UAE), the M.A. Kharafi Group (Kuwait), and the Kingdom Development Company (Saudi Arabia).


Table 3: Sources and Destination of FDI

Data not available.


Table 4: Sources of Portfolio Investment

Portfolio Investment Assets
Top Five Partners (Millions, US Dollars, 2016)
Total Equity Securities Total Debt Securities
All Countries $1,886 100% All Countries $888 100% All Countries $998 100%
Cayman Islands $416 22% Saudi Arabia $347 39% Cayman Islands $406 41%
Saudi Arabia $392 13% International Organizations $250 28% United States $190 19%
International Organizations $250 12% United Kingdom $45 5% Qatar $103 10%
United States $219 5% Italy $36 4% Germany $48 5%
Qatar $103 5% Switzerland $32 4% Saudi Arabia $46 5%
Investment Climate Statements
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U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future