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Egyptian Minister Abdel Nour on official Visit to Marmomacc

VERONA/ITALY, October 14, , 2013 – For his first international mission after the appointment of the new Government, Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, the Egyptian Minister for Industry and Trade, travelled to Verona to attend Marmomacc, the exhibition dedicated to natural stone and related technologies, and asked for a personal meeting with construction industry entrepreneurs. During this meeting, the Minister clearly explained the political situation in Egypt and the conditions of security and stability essential in the future to attract foreign investments.

A meeting at Marmomacc in Verona

Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour (middle), the Egyptian Minister for Industry and Trade, joining a meeting held at Marmomacc. | photo: Samoter/Soluzione Group

"The economy is performing well and exports are good," explained Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour, "and a balance of trade surplus was posted for the year ending last July. We are on the right track for launching a road map, defining a fair, honest and democratic government where justice and law prevail. Next March or April will see parliamentary elections followed by the presidential elections and we are firmly convinced that Egypt will emerge stronger than ever. The current Government has launched investments worth about 30 billion euros. The GDP is growing at between 3.5% and 4% and inflation is falling. There are many infrastructural projects we intend to launch immediately with funds coming to about 5 billion euros. As regards the building, construction and infrastructures sector, which is the most interesting aspect on this occasion, I can mention plans for hundreds of housing units, a new power station, the Metro extension in Cairo, as well as the completion of two industrial districts for medium and small companies. We also hope to diversify energy sources and, with the Italian company Italcementi, we will evaluate the technical conditions for using gas and coal in cement production.”

The message to Italian firms in the sector is clear: for Egypt, private investments are crucial and Italian companies will receive a warm welcome. Egypt has already welcomed giants such as Gemmo, which obtained renewal of the management contract for facilities and Terminal 3 of Cairo International Airport; Italgen, engaged in the construction of a 120 MW wind farm (with an option of up to 400 MW) involving an initial investment of about 130 million euros, and Cementir Group, a leading company in the production and distribution of white cement which has a major manufacturing facility in Sinai. Yet opportunities are also open to smaller companies: law 83/2002 seeks to aims to attract investments into Egypt and has seen the creation of Special Economic Zones for essentially export-oriented industrial activities and services. Ministerial Decree 719/07 introduced further incentives. In short, companies working in SEZ will enjoy incentives and exemptions from taxes and customs duties, streamlined procedures and greater flexibility as regards labour standards. In addition, in these free-zones annual net income tax is 10% while in ZES contexts, corporate profits are exempt from taxation for a minimum period of 10 years. Annual (not monthly) rental costs range from 3.5 to 7 dollars per square metre.

Lastly, legislation allows foreign ownership of up to 100% and ensures remittance abroad of profits and the repatriation of capital. SEZ and free-zones are managed by GAFI (General Authority for Investment and Free Zones) that determines which projects can be implemented and the necessary infrastructures. Such benefits make it very worthwhile to Egypt as a country where investments can made, as well as the base for operations in North Africa and the Middle East: the unknown factor is obviously the country's political and social stability. In this regard, Minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour was quite clear: "My presence here shows that the situation is calm." When asked if outlawing the Muslim Brothers, the movement of former Prime Minister Morsi, might cause instability in the run-up to the elections, the Minister replied: "We are fighting terrorism just as you did in Italy a few years ago. The Muslim Brothers is a terrorist organisation and had already been banned from Egyptian politics; in 2011 we offered a chance to take part in the life of the country in respect of law and the Constitution. They have not learned the lesson. In the past, they committed many murders and acts of terrorism in Egypt and around the world. They are criminals who claim to act in the name of religion. We are fighting terrorism in Egypt even on your behalf and for your benefit: if they ever master the Middle East, they will take their fight into Italy and other European countries."

The Minister's visit to Marmomacc helped further strengthen an important trade line between Italy and Egypt, especially for the Egyptian marble and granite industry worth over 2.5 billion dollars and taking Italian machinery and technology exports which grew by 40% in the first four months of 2013.

And precisely in Cairo, Veronafiere will organize 11-14 December 2014 an international exhibition focusing on the world of natural stone and building machinery. The objective of the first edition of MS Africa & Middle East is to attract to the marble and construction industry to Cairo through two well-known brands such as Marmomacc and Samoter.