27 May - 2 June 1999
Issue No. 431
|Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875|
EU partnership soon
Egypt Region International Economy Opinion Culture Profile Living Features Travel Sports People Time Out Chronicles Cartoons Letters
MINISTER of Foreign Affairs Amr Moussa said he is hopeful Egypt's partnership agreement with the European Union (EU) will be signed soon, reports Niveen Wahish. Addressing members of the German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GACIC), Moussa said, "We have achieved progress in negotiations and are now hopeful that in the coming few months we will be able to sign the partnership agreement." Moussa said he hopes the agreement will be concluded during the current German presidency of the EU. Describing negotiations between Egypt and the EU as having been "very difficult", with negotiators on both sides being "very tough", Moussa said that, nevertheless, "this toughness is going to produce a good document" which will guarantee that the partnership agreement will not "suffocate" Egypt's industrial and agricultural sectors. Dubbing the partnership agreement as Egypt's "most ambitious endeavour to integrate into the world economy," Moussa said that it should increase the economy's growth rate by anything ranging from 0.5 per cent to one per cent. But in order to make the most of the agreement, Egypt must upgrade its infrastructure and industry and improve its export performance. "The (Egyptian) private sector should not and cannot satisfy itself with the local market and will have to opt for more," he stressed. While the government is doing all it can to open up new markets, and establish a legal framework for cooperation by signing agreements eliminating double taxation and protecting investments, it is still the private sector which must bear the responsibility of exporting, said Moussa. The German Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce is the new name of the German Arab Chamber of Commerce. The board of the chamber believes that the new title better describes the chamber's membership, which has changed its nature, according to Peter Gopfrich, executive director of the chamber. While in the past GACIC members were mostly agents representing foreign companies, today more than half of the chamber's members are engaged in industrial activity.
Women mean business
A DELEGATION representing the Association of Businesswomen of Egypt 21 (BWE21) flew to the United Kingdom this week to attend a conference on Arab businesswomen. The Egyptian delegates were invited by the British Council in Cairo. The conference, organised by the British Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), aims at promoting economic ties between Egypt and the UK and coordinating efforts by Arab and British businesswomen to enhance women's role in public life. BWE21 members will also meet with British businesswomen's associations and compare business experiences. This is the second meeting between Egyptian and British businesswomen who first met last year in a seminar on "Women in Business" organised by the British Council.
Arab businessmen meet
AN EGYPTIAN delegation attended a business conference in Morocco organised by the Arab Business Community Forum. Taher El-Sherif, secretary general of the Egyptian Businessmen's Association (EBA), said that the EBA presented two papers, one on obstacles hindering a speedier implementation of the Arab Free Trade Area (AFTA), currently under formation, and the second on Arab commercial structures. The impact of globalisation and of the euro-currency on Arab markets were also discussed. The conference made recommendations on the need for coordination between Arab countries' financial sectors, and Arab countries' positions in negotiating international trade relations with the European Union, for example. Giving priority to local and Arab investors in the Arab countries' privatisation processes was called for, as well as facilitating businessmen's travel procedures. The two-day meeting, held under the auspices of the Arab League, was inaugurated by the Moroccan prime minister and attended by members from 17 Arab countries. The Arab Business Community Forum is an arm of the Arab Business Council which operates under the auspices of the Arab League.
From lab to marketplace
The US-Egypt Partnership Subcommittee on Technology and the US-Egypt Joint Board on Scientific and Technological Cooperation sponsored a workshop in Cairo on "Technology Commercialisation", reports Shaimaa Labib. "Economic development can no longer depend solely on the utilisation of scarce natural resources," said Minister of Higher Education Moufid Shehab who attended the workshop. "It can only be attained through a commercialisation of technology which will yield profits and enhance the economy." During the workshop, Egyptian businesses and researchers discussed commercialising technology by moving it from the lab into the marketplace. Egypt's Academy of Scientific Research and the US Department of Commerce's Technology Administration co-organised and led last week's workshop. Delegates from the US departments of commerce, energy and agriculture attended. Technology commercialisation is integral to creating new technology-based enterprises, and transforming scientific and technical developments into profitable business opportunities, according to the chairman of the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, Mohamed Youssri. "In Egypt, a multi-disciplinary programme comprising technology, education and commercialisation must be developed," he added, "in order to assess scientific research and evaluate its commercial and business potential." Workshop participants also discussed ways of introducing cleaner technologies into different industries. The Energy and Environment Conservation Project launched by the Egyptian government 10 years ago was cited as a successful example of applying pollution prevention measures. "Pollution prevention was introduced to Egyptian industries through this project," said Ahmed Abdel-Meguid, director of the Tebbin Institute for Metallurgical Studies, which is located near the industrial zone of Helwan, south of Cairo. The aim of the project has been to minimise waste generation and emphasise cleaner production -- two factors that will be instrumental in helping Egypt's economy deal with rapidly changing global developments, according to Abdel-Meguid.