Egypt Expects ‘Remarkable’ Increase in Direct Investment

Hossam Haiba, CEO of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), and other officials during a ceremony granting a golden license to establish a home appliances factory. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Hossam Haiba, CEO of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), and other officials during a ceremony granting a golden license to establish a home appliances factory. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
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Egypt Expects ‘Remarkable’ Increase in Direct Investment

Hossam Haiba, CEO of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), and other officials during a ceremony granting a golden license to establish a home appliances factory. (Asharq Al-Awsat)
Hossam Haiba, CEO of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), and other officials during a ceremony granting a golden license to establish a home appliances factory. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Hossam Haiba, CEO of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), expected the Egyptian market to achieve a remarkable increase in direct investment in the coming period, following the huge presidential and governmental support to investment.

Haiba handed over two golden licenses to two manufacturers specializing in the production of home appliances and durable goods on the 10th of Ramadan City, bringing the total number of companies that obtained the golden license to 15 so far.

GAFI CEO emphasized that the future goal is that all investors obtain the golden license, to start pumping investments and establishing factories in the shortest time possible.

A statement issued by the GAFI revealed that the first golden license was received by Umit Günel, General Manager of Beko LLC. According to the license, Beko will establish a factory for the manufacture and assembly of durable consumer goods and electrical appliances.

The second license was received by Luis Alvarez, CEO of BSH Home Appliances, Egypt, and the owner of the trademark (Bosch), with the aim of establishing a factory for cookers and refrigerators.

Beko Egypt plans to complete the first phase of the factory by the end of this year, at an investment cost of USD 107 million. The factory will provide 1,300 direct job opportunities.

BSH Egypt will complete the first phase of its industrial project in the last quarter of next year, at an investment cost of 50 million euros ($53.5 million), creating 500 jobs.

The golden license is an all-inclusive approval whereby an enterprise can establish, operate and manage its project. It encompasses many permits including building permits and permits to allocate the necessary real estate for the project.

It is granted by a decree of the government to companies that establish strategic or national projects contributing to Egypt’s development.

During the past fiscal year 2021/2022, GAFI facilitated the procedures for establishing about 31,000 companies, in addition to facilitating the procedures for increasing the capital of another 2,000, with an increase of 9.4 percent in the number of firms.

Haiba added that the main factors that contributed to the decision to grant the golden license to the two companies are their plans to localize the technology of manufacturing home appliances in the Egyptian market and the target to export a large part of the products to foreign markets.

Such factors are consistent with Egypt's Vision 2030 and boost the Egyptian economy, he added.



World Bank Downgrades Middle East Growth Forecast for 2024 to 2.8%

Palestinian boys play football surrounded by the rubble of buildings destroyed during previous Israeli bombardment, in Gaza City on June 10, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas (AFP)
Palestinian boys play football surrounded by the rubble of buildings destroyed during previous Israeli bombardment, in Gaza City on June 10, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas (AFP)
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World Bank Downgrades Middle East Growth Forecast for 2024 to 2.8%

Palestinian boys play football surrounded by the rubble of buildings destroyed during previous Israeli bombardment, in Gaza City on June 10, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas (AFP)
Palestinian boys play football surrounded by the rubble of buildings destroyed during previous Israeli bombardment, in Gaza City on June 10, 2024, amid the ongoing conflict between Israel and Hamas (AFP)

The global economy is expected to stabilize for the first time in three years in 2024 but at a level that is weak by recent historical standards, according to the World Bank’s latest Global Economic Prospects report released on Tuesday.

Global growth is projected to hold steady at 2.6% in 2024 before edging up to an average of 2.7% in 2025-26, well below the 3.1% average in the decade before COVID-19, the report said.

The bank's latest outlook marks an increase from the 2.4% growth for 2024 it had predicted in January.

Concerning growth in the Middle East, the World Bank downgraded its forecast from 3.5% to 2.8% in 2024, reflecting the extensions of oil production cuts and the ongoing conflict in the region.

However, growth is expected to pick up to 4.2% in 2025, it said.

The forecast implies that over the course of 2024-26 countries that collectively account for more than 80% of the world’s population and global GDP would still be growing more slowly than they did in the decade before COVID-19.

Overall, developing economies are projected to grow 4% on average over 2024-25, slightly slower than in 2023.

Growth in low-income economies is expected to accelerate to 5% in 2024 from 3.8% in 2023.

However, the forecasts for 2024 growth reflect downgrades in three out of every four low-income economies since January.

In advanced economies, growth is set to remain steady at 1.5% in 2024 before rising to 1.7% in 2025.

The report also said that global inflation is expected to moderate to 3.5% in 2024 and 2.9% in 2025, but the pace of decline is slower than was projected just six months ago.

Many central banks, as a result, are expected to remain cautious in lowering policy interest rates.

The World Bank said global interest rates are likely to remain high by the standards of recent decades—averaging about 4% over 2025-26, roughly double the 2000-19 average.

Middle East Region

The World Bank said geo-political tensions and policy uncertainty are elevated in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

“Human suffering and the destruction of physical capital in West Bank and Gaza arising from the ongoing conflict are immense. Attacks on shipping in the Red Sea have reduced transit through the Suez Canal, disrupted international trade, and heightened policy uncertainty, particularly in neighboring countries,” its report stated.

Activity by both oil exporters and importers in the MENA region remained weakened in early to the middle of 2024.

In member countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), oil activity has been stagnant, the World Bank said.

In June 2024, oil production cuts were extended by a year until the end of 2025, and additional voluntary production adjustments were agreed to be maintained until the end of September 2024 before gradually phasing out from October.

Activity picked up in non-GCC oil exporters that were exempt from production cut agreements.

Saudi Arabia

In Saudi Arabia, the World Bank said growth in 2024 is projected to be supported by non-oil activity, and a gradual resumption of oil activity is expected to raise growth in 2025.

“In Saudi Arabia, the economy contracted in the first quarter of 2024, relative to a year ago, the third consecutive quarter of output contraction. However, growth in non-oil activity has remained robust, driven by both private consumption and business investment, somewhat offsetting a contraction of oil activity,” the report said.

Also, it noted, activity is forecast to increase in 2024 despite a projected decline in oil output.

“This growth is attributed to robust non-oil activity, driven by strong private consumption and investment, supported by fiscal and monetary policies. In 2025, a gradual resumption of oil activity is expected to raise growth,” the report found.

Oil Importers

Among oil importers, growth in 2024 is expected to pick up to 2.9 percent and then increase to 4% annually in 2025-26, the World Bank report said.

In Egypt, growth is projected to increase, propelled by investment growth partly spurred by a large-scale deal with the United Arab Emirates.

Growth in Jordan is anticipated to remain steady, although tourism-related activities will suffer in the short term.

In Tunisia, growth is forecast to rebound, but activity in Djibouti and Morocco is projected to soften in 2024.

High uncertainty around the economic outlook in West Bank and Gaza this year reflects the severity of the conflict. The economy of West Bank and Gaza is assumed to shrink, at least, by a further 6.5% —with the possibility of contraction by up to 9.4%—in 2024.

In Syria and Yemen, the outlook is subdued and uncertain, given the ongoing conflict, domestic violence and unrest, and tensions in the Red Sea, it said.

Outlook

Growth in MENA is expected to pick up to 2.8% in 2024 and 4.2% in 2025, mainly because of a gradual increase in oil production and strengthened activity since the fourth quarter of 2024, the report showed.

It said growth in GCC countries is forecast to strengthen to 2.8% in 2024 and 4.7% in 2025.

Among non-GCC oil exporters, a projected recovery in the oil sector in 2025 will help strengthen growth in Algeria and Iraq.

Risks

A major downside risk is the possible escalation of armed conflicts in the region. For oil importers, a tightening of global financial conditions could lead to capital outflows and exchange rate depreciation.

The World Bank said countries with high government debt would see increased debt-service burdens due to higher borrowing costs and the elevated risk of financial instability.

Also, severe weather events induced by climate change, as well as other types of natural disasters, remain a significant risk in MENA. Negative spillovers from weaker-than-expected growth in China would likely affect oil exporters through lower demand and prices for oil.