The Mexican Chamber of Commerce office in Egypt hosted Martha Lopez, Director General of the Arab-Mexican Chamber of Commerce, between Sunday and Monday, to discuss furthering cooperation between the two countries.
Lopez discussed several topics with Mexican Ambassador in Egypt Octavio Tripp, from the desire to diversify Mexican trade with Egypt, to an event that Egypt will host next year for Mexican businessmen to encourage investment in Egypt, and vice versa.
Ahmed Antar, Deputy Minister of Trade, told Egypt Independent why Egypt views Mexico as an important business partner, “Egypt and Mexico are successful partners due to their similarities…they are both third world countries, trying to improve their technological and industrial advances.”
Octavio Tripp, Ambassador of Mexico in Egypt, told Egypt Independent that Lopez’s visit shows how important Egypt is as a business partner to Mexico.
In 2016, Egypt obtained a loan from the International Monetary Fund, in an attempt to fix its ailing economy. In return, the government had to undergo a rigorous reform program, including floating the pound and cutting welfare subsidies.
These reforms, according to Tripp, “have made Egypt attractive for Mexican investors, as well as Egypt’s geographic position in Africa, and the Suez Canal and the economic zones.”
However, Tripp added that there were still some issues both sides need to work on to improve cooperation; “We have pending issues. Trade, for example. is limited, and we have to improve our legal framework in order to promote more systematic and productive trade. On the other side of this economic equation, the investment is growing.”
“We noticed that sometimes one of the problems is the lack of information about Mexico and in Mexico about Egypt.”
“It is imperative to have trade missions on both sides – Egypt in Mexico, and Mexico in Egypt – and to disseminate more information about investment opportunities.”
Martha Lopez told Egypt Independent that her visit mainly aimed to showcase an event to promote Mexican businesses in Egypt, which will take place in 2019.
“My visit here is to strengthen the relationship that we have with the Egyptian Businessmen Association, as we have an MOU and we are planning to arrange an event for next year…this is to work on the details of the event, and the businesses that we are going to promote.”
“The other reason is to meet ambassador Tripp, because he is very supportive for the chamber. We want to discuss the way that we are going to work next year, in order to promote Egypt and Mexico; investment opportunities, and business opportunities.
We also had a meeting with the Egyptian commercial services, which is a huge deal for us, because we felt that they are the key to promote us better in Mexico and Egypt. They have the knowledge and experience to do that.”
She added this visit contributes to the chamber’s end goal; “We want to facilitate for businessmen the tools that they need, to make it easier to arrange business.”
As for the products of which both countries could further their trade, Lopez said, “Agro industry is very coming. Certain products like avocado or certain vegetables are the main products that Mexico can export to Egypt…and also meat.”
“Egypt can export marble and copper cable, and we’ve received interested companies. They can go to Mexico. We need these products, so there is an opportunity for exportation”.
The reception was also attended by Mohammad Youssef, CEO of the Egyptian Businessmen Association, who told Egypt Independent why the time was right to re-initiate cooperation between the two countries.
“The whole idea is that you now have a group of Egyptian and Mexican companies, that are ready to invest outside. According to the recent World Investment Report, Mexico last year had outside investments amounting to around 20 billion dollars. This is not a small number.
How can I, as Egypt, be a destination to them, is the question.
However, there must be willingness and means to solve problems that arise on both sides of the government. The business council (created back in May) will report back to both governments, and see what can be done. “
Youssef’s point was continued by Carlos Gonzlez, President of the Mexican side of the Egyptian-Mexican Business Council, who highlighted the council’s priorities at the moment: “The first one is to have a double taxation treaty, to avoid double taxation between the two countries.
Another treaty we will request is the protection of investments, so Egyptian investments in Mexico are protected, and vice versa.
“The third is a direct ‘bridge’ of travel between Egypt and Mexico – even if it goes through a third country, but there are flights to connect both countries.
“The fourth aspect we would like to address is the free trade agreement…There are already preliminary talks about this, because it makes sense. We are complimentary economies and on different sides of the world, and it will benefit both of us.”
He concluded that the end goal would be to exchange business opportunities and investments between the countries. “Our goal is to improve the exchange business opportunities between Egypt and Mexico, and bring more Mexican investments into Egypt.”