MARKETBYTAMERHAFEZTHE

Business monthly (Egypt) - - THE YEAR AHEAD -

be­fore a high-pro­file eco­nomic sum­mit last March that sought to paint Egypt in the eyes of the world as a busi­ness-friendly na­tion on the rise, of­fi­cials hur­riedly passed a sweep­ing new in­vest­ment law. It in­clud- ed mea­sures to pro­tect com­pa­nies from le­gal chal­lenges and chang­ing gov­ern- ment winds, pro­vide in­cen­tives for in­vest­ment in la­bor-in­ten­sive projects and most im­por­tantly, re­duce Egypt’s stul­ti­fy­ing red tape. More than any­thing, it aimed to over­haul Egypt’s long­stand- ing im­age as an opaque, labyrinthine bu­reau­cracy. Fol­low­ing the Sharm el- Sheikh shindig, of­fi­cials tri­umphantly an­nounced that it had net­ted the coun­try some $33 bil­lion in pri­vate deals. Mean­while, the new in­vest­ment law— is­sued more than six months be­fore Egypt would get around to elect­ing a new Par­lia­ment—was trum­peted as “one of the best in the world” by then Prime Min­is­ter Ibrahim Mahlab who, like other of­fi­cials, re­peat­edly pointed to FDI as the sil­ver bul­let that would re­vive Egypt’s lag­ging econ­omy. Less than a year later, how­ever, the so-called in­vest- ment law has changed pre­cisely noth­ing, say an­a­lysts, who gen­er­ally agree that the law is “fun­da­men­tally flawed,” as econ­o­mist and for­mer gov­ern­ment offi- cial Ziad Ba­haa-Eldin suc­cinctly puts it.

From the be­gin­ning, the regime of Pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah el-Sisi has stuck firmly to the con­vic­tion that pri­vate in­vest­ment is Egypt’s one and only path to eco­nomic sol­vency, and it has pledged to im­ple­ment the ma­jor gov­ern­ment re­forms nec­es­sary to en­cour­age it. Soon af­ter com­ing to power, Sisi’s gov­ern­ment launched a host of free mar­ket, in­vestor- friendly poli­cies. It has promised to do away with waste­ful en­ergy sub­si­dies,

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