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As the government continues its economic reform agenda, a more stable macro-economic outlook should allow Egypt to focus on the structural reforms necessary to support strong economic growth. The next phase of reform will include a new investment law, a bankruptcy law and other reforms to reduce regulatory overhang and improve the ease of doing business.
Successful implementation of these reforms should give greater confidence to foreign investors leading to increased FDI. With a few exceptions, Egypt does not legally discriminate between nationals and foreign individuals in the formation and operation of private companies.
The 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 percent foreign ownership of investment projects and guarantees the right to remit income earned in Egypt and to repatriate capital. Despite this guarantee, companies have experienced difficulty remitting earned income.
The Tenders Law law 89 of requires the government to consider both price and best value in awarding contracts and to issue an explanation for refusal of a bid.
However, 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. Foreign investors can buy shares on the Egyptian Stock Exchange on the same basis as local investors.
Foreign investors, both institutional and private, have reported difficulties obtaining hard currency for profit repatriation. Although GAFI retains its traditional regulatory powers, today it is attempting to act as an effective, proactive investment promotion agency with promotion, facilitation, business matchmaking, organizing events for Egyptian expatriates, investor aftercare, and research and market intelligence functions.
In addition to promoting Egypt's investment opportunities in various sectors, GAFI has announced new initiatives aimed at promoting the investment climate in Egypt including the adoption of new investment regimes investment zones and special economic zones and the establishment of the SME Entrepreneurial Center and Fund Bedaya.
It has a mandate to coordinate with the 47 ministries and government agencies who control the issuance of the licenses and approvals required for the establishment of businesses in Egypt. Services offered through the OSS include: 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 through the organization of business forums; Aftercare and dispute settlement services.
Egypt maintains ongoing communication with investors through formal business roundtables, investment promotion events conferences and seminarsone-on-one investment meetings, and through the public GAFI website.
In addition, all companies, both foreign and domestic, are required to acquire a commercial and tax license. All foreign companies must pass a security clearance process. Although companies are able to operate while undergoing this often lengthy security screening, if it is rejected they must cease operations and undergo a lengthy appeals process.
Businesses have cited instances where Egyptian clients were hesitant to engage in protracted business contracts with foreign businesses that have not yet received security clearance, and have expressed concern about seemingly arbitrary refusals, a lack of explanation when a security clearance is not issued, and a lengthy appeals process.
Although the Government of Egypt has made progress streamlining the business registration process at the General Authority for Investment, lack of familiarity or experience working with foreigners has sometimes led to inconsistent and questionable treatment by banks and government officials, 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 the percent ownership was reduced from to 51 percent by Presidential decree.
Inthe Ministry of Trade prepared an amendment to the law allowing the registration of importing companies owned by foreign shareholders; as of Aprilthe law had not yet been submitted to Parliament.
The ownership of land by foreigners is governed by three laws: 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.
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