Al-Ahram Weekly Online   2 - 8 June 2005
Issue No. 745
Published in Cairo by AL-AHRAM established in 1875


SME exports

EXPORT promotion has been identified as a priority policy area being tackled by the Small and Medium-Sized Enterprise Policy Development Project (SMEPol), which is working in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Industry to develop an export strategy specific to SMEs.

Based on a research study, the strategy also reviews the experience in the field of promoting exports in the field of SMEs in several developed and developing countries including Canada, the UK and South Africa.

In the meantime, a survey of more than 200 SMEs operating in the manufacturing and services sectors has been conducted in a number of Egyptian governorates. Scanning samples of SMEs in Cairo, Damietta, Beni Sweif and Minya, the survey underlined the percentage of exports to total production, measures pursued by these enterprises to promote their production and export opportunities, the constraints they face and the impact of the latest economic reform actions on their exports.

The final section of the study includes a number of recommendations which stress the importance of ensuring the sustainability of a comprehensive SME export promotion policy and improving the micro-economics environment for SMEs in Egypt.

Together with the ministry and other relevant stakeholders, the SMEPol will finalise the strategy and see that recommendations are put to action so that the study would eventually be adopted as Egypt's Export Strategy for SMEs.

SMEPol commenced as a four-year project in June 2000 and has seen its lease extended to December 2005. The project is a partnership between the Ministry of Finance, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The purpose of the project is to support the ministry in the development of policies, legislation and regulations supporting the development of SMEs in Egypt.

More Mars Bars

MASTER Foods Egypt, a subsidiary of Mars, an international food, snack food and petcare products company, recently opened a new factory in Egypt.

The new factory, located in the 6th of October City, will be used to supply Mars' customers in Egypt and throughout the Middle East and Africa. According to Ehab Abu Oaf, general manager for the North Africa, Eastern Mediterranean and Levant region, the factory opening is a major development for the company, which has been selling a range of products in Egypt for over 10 years.

"Manufacturing and exporting within Egypt was a major step forward for the company," said Oaf, adding that in the past, the company had always imported its products from abroad.

Med finance

THE EUROPEAN Investment Bank (EIB) and 12 European Development Finance Institutions (EDFI) members this week signed a Letter of Intent agreement in Edinburgh to strengthen cooperation in financing projects in the Mediterranean region.

"This agreement identifies new ways to develop financial cooperation, avoids duplication of resources, and maximises the impact of EU member states activities in the region," said Philippe de Fontaine Vive, EIB vice-president.

Formalising this agreement is timely, as 2005 has been designated "Year of the Mediterranean", and is also the 10th anniversary of the Barcelona Declaration, as Vive noted.

EIB's activities in the Mediterranean Partner Countries have evolved in the last two years to include a 4.5 billion euro loan to increase investment and economic development in the region. Its features include the introduction of new financing instruments and forms of assistance, the opening of new offices and the formalisation of an active dialogue between European and Mediterranean partners.

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