As Egypt gets ready to host the “Africa 2019” conference scheduled for Nov. 22-23, a report published by the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry expects the volume of Egyptian exports to African countries to increase moving forward.
This comes after figures published July 6 by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) indicated the Egyptian government’s increased interest in exporting to neighboring African countries. In 2018, trade exchange between Egypt and African countries increased by 23% to $6.9 billion, compared to $5.6 billion in 2017, and Egyptian exports to African countries increased by 26.9% to reach $4.7 billion in 2018, compared to $3.7 billion in 2017.
CAPMAS also pointed out that Egyptian imports from African countries increased by 15.2% to $2.1 billion in 2018, compared to $1.9 billion in 2017.
Abdel Nabi Abdel Mottaleb, former undersecretary for research and economic studies at the Ministry of Trade and Industry, told Al-Monitor that this increase is the result of the Egyptian export development strategy that the ministry started implementing in 2016.
In order to encourage exports, the ministry launched in July a program aimed at providing cash assistance to be deducted from the exporting companies’ obligations to the Ministry of Finance; in addition, it organizes regular trade missions to African countries.
The Egyptian Commercial Service offices of the Ministry of Trade and Industry are spread across 11 African countries, and they provide exporters with marketing studies about the most promising sectors in Africa and the products to be exported to African markets.
Abdel Mottaleb said that such exports will increase further in the next two to three years, and pointed out that the Egyptian government is seeking to increase its exports to Africa by up to 50% in 2019.
Egyptian chemical products, fertilizers, food products, iron and steel, electrical appliances, medicines, cement, furniture, and textiles were products most in-demand in Africa in 2018, according to the Egyptian Commercial Service of the Ministry of Trade and Industry.
Head of the Chemicals and Fertilizers Export Council Khaled Abu El-Makarem told Al-Monitor that the share of African countries from the Egyptian chemical and fertilizer industries amounts to $4 billion, out of a total of $5.4 billion.
The council, he continued, aims to increase the proportion of Egyptian chemical and fertilizer exports to African countries to 20% by 2020, but said this remains subject to the incentives and customs exemptions granted by African countries.
He said that Egyptian chemical products are exported to more than 30 African countries, including Kenya, Sudan, Ghana, Tanzania, Ethiopia, and South Africa.
Makarem noted that they are working to enter new markets in the coming period.
The Egyptian government encourages exporters to open up to the African market through the Egyptian Commercial Service of the Ministry of Trade and Industry, which provides the necessary marketing studies on the most promising sectors and products to be exported. It also provides assistance in resolving trade disputes between Egyptian companies and their African counterparts.