Monday,24 September, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1279, (21 - 27 January 2016)
Monday,24 September, 2018
Issue 1279, (21 - 27 January 2016)

Ahram Weekly

How to boost exports

The government has started to think outside the box in its bid to help boost exports, reports Angy Essam

Egyptian stawberry
Egyptian stawberry
Al-Ahram Weekly

The government this week launched “Go Global,” an initiative aimed at increasing Egyptian exports and helping the country’s exporters. The initiative targets small exporters who want to boost their export capabilities and domestic producers looking to export their products globally.

“The main aim of the initiative is to increase the number of exporters through a tailored programme designed to support small and new exporters,” Aly Al-Leithy, head of the Egyptian Commercial Service (ECS) at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, told a forum organised this week to launch the initiative.

Under the initiative, the ministry will work with a specific batch of companies for a certain period to gain a hands-on feel for their problems and to try to resolve them. A new batch of companies will be taken in hand under the initiative every three months, with 250 being targeted in three years. The initiative will begin its pilot phase with 10 companies, then 20 companies will be taken in every three months.

Led by the ECS, in cooperation with the Federation of Egyptian Industries and the Egyptian Exporters Association (Expolink), the initiative aims to encourage manufacturers to take advantage of export opportunities and the programmes that exist to serve their needs and strengthen their export and competitive abilities.

ECS, through its offices abroad, will help exporters with marketing and match-making with parties interested in importing from Egypt. This week’s forum brought together all the organisations concerned with exports under one roof.

Ahmed Taha, head of the government’s Industry Modernisation Centre (IMC), said that export growth is a core part of the government’s industrial strategy for the year 2020, to be presented to parliament early next month.

Taha said the strategy hopes to double the industrial output growth rate and adjust the trade balance by increasing exports while decreasing imports and developing small- and medium-sized projects.

“Many exporters’ problems lie in routines that waste time,” said Mohamed Shalaby, an exporter of fresh fruit. He sees a problem in what he describes as “unqualified employees” working in areas related to the exports sector, such as in the Customs, Airports, and General Authority for the Control of Exports and Imports, who are “not responsible enough” and do not understand the export culture and why exports should be considered a national security issue.

“They do not realise the importance of exports. They delay a lot of work not only because of their routines, but also because many of them do not understand the export laws,” Shalaby said.

He said that the vitality of Egypt’s exports lies in the fact that they are a major source of hard currency, especially since other sources such as tourism have been hard hit following the crash of the Russian airplane near Sharm El-Sheikh last October.

“Any delay is disastrous for exporters, especially for fresh produce like fruits and vegetable which can perish easily,” he said. He added that delays cause exporters to lose their export markets, since this means it is difficult to commit to delivery dates.

“This means losing foreign markets and hard currency for Egypt, not just for the exporter,” he said. Shalaby called on the government work to improve its employees’ performance and encourage them to perform their work more efficiently and faster.

“The government should issue new export laws to get rid of routines and speed up export procedures,” he said.

Mostafa Abdel-Aziz, a frozen food exporter, complained of corruption and bureaucracy in export-related procedures such as customs and opening letters of credit.

He said the government has given orders to the banks to provide exporters with the finance needed, but the procedures continue to be very slow.

Forum speakers this week told participating exporters how to prepare a strategy to go global and how to determine targeted products and markets, informing them of available support programmes, export opportunities, finance operations and exports guarantees, as well as the most convenient transportation and logistical means and the role of international inspection companies in the export sector.

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