Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Britain contributing to build Egypt's economy
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The “Egypt the Future” conference in Sharm El-Sheikh comes at an important time for Egypt. So as Egypt’s largest investor, I am leading a strong delegation that includes Bob Dudley, Chief Executive Officer of BP and Sami Iskander, Chief Operating Officer of BG.

There are a number of reasons why this conference is so important. A strong and successful Egypt is not just good for Egyptians, it is good for everyone. This region faces unprecedented challenges from terrorism, political instability and economic uncertainty. A more prosperous, democratic Egypt can play a leading regional role in addressing these challenges. A successful conference in Sharm El-Sheikh can provide the foundation for this through investing in Egypt’s economy to create jobs and opportunities for all.

Britain’s commitment to Egypt stretches far beyond the three days of the conference. As Egypt’s largest investor, Britain has a permanent place at the heart of the Egyptian economy, actively supporting the Egyptian people. The British companies coming to Sharm El-Sheikh are testament to this. Barclays Bank has been investing in Egypt for over 150 years and is opening a new head office. BP is celebrating its fiftieth year operating in Egypt and is planning to invest 12 billion US dollars in the West Nile Delta gas project between now and 2020, the biggest foreign investment in Egypt’s history. BG has invested 14 billion US dollars to build a first-class natural gas business in Egypt and has upgraded Egypt’s energy infrastructure so it has the capacity for future development.

British investment is vital to Egypt because it creates jobs and opportunities for Egyptians. According to the Egyptian Central Bank, Britain was the source of almost 50 percent of investment in Egypt during the last financial year. This investment is helping to transform the Egyptian economy, driving job creation and economic growth so that ordinary Egyptians see a real impact in their own lives. Barclays and HSBC together employ 5,000 people in Egypt. Vodafone employs a diverse labor force of 9,000 people across Egypt and contributes an annual average of 5 billion Egyptian pounds tax to the Egyptian government, more than any other company in Egypt.

However, it will take more than just investment to unlock the true potential of the Egyptian economy. We have been working closely with the Egyptian government, sharing policy expertise and encouraging them to make the reforms necessary to ensure the economy can reach its potential. The Sharm El-Sheikh conference is a fantastic opportunity for the Egyptian government to demonstrate its own commitment to cutting red tape, removing the obstacles to foreign investment and ensuring that economic growth is inclusive and equitable. If Egypt’s economic experience of the mid-2000s has taught us anything, it is that true economic success means creating jobs and opportunities for all Egyptians.

These things are necessary to build a strong, thriving, and equitable economy. Investment, jobs and reform are at the heart of Egypt’s vision for the Sharm El-Sheikh conference and are at the heart of what Britain offers to help build a successful future for Egypt.