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In this page: FDI in Figures | What to consider if you invest in Egypt | Protection of Foreign Investment | Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment | Office Real Estate and Land Ownership | Investment Aid | Investment Opportunities | Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer | Finding Assistance For Further Information

 

FDI in Figures

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, Egypt remained the largest recipient in Africa, albeit with a significant reduction (-35%) from USD 9 billion recorded in 2019 to USD 5.9 billion in 2020, according to UNCTAD's 2021 World Investment Report. In the same year, FDI stocks reached USD 132 billion. According to UNCTAD’s Investment Trends Monitor, global FDI flows showed stronger than expected rebound momentum in the first half of 2021, but the recovery was uneven. In Northern Africa, FDI flows only reached USD 5 billion during that period. As of June 2021, FDI stock amounted to USD 134.3 billion (Central Bank of Egypt). Efforts to boost FDI diversification include the agreement to reactivate the USD 16 billion Saudi-Egyptian investment fund, which lists tourism, healthcare, pharmaceuticals, infrastructure, digital technologies, financial services, education and food as priority sectors. The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (TSFE) is seeking to attract FDI into a range of economic and social development projects through public-private-partnerships. Among the areas covered are solar-powered desalination plants, digitalization of the education system, transport (electric trains), finance, as well as the restructuration of state assets in the petroleum and water sector (SWF). Nevertheless, FDI in the country is still largely directed to natural resources. This pattern has been reinforced by the discovery of the Zohr offshore gas field in the Eastern Mediterranean region. The UK is by far the largest investor in Egypt, followed by Belgium, the USA and the UAE. FDI is concentrated in the oil and gas industry (around three-quarters of total investments), followed by real estate, manufacturing, financial services and construction.

The dynamic growth of the Egyptian economy, its strategic geographical position, low labour costs, skilled workforce, unique tourist potential, substantial energy reserves, large domestic market and the success of the reforms undertaken by the authorities (including many privatisations) contributed to drive up FDIs. Egypt recently adopted an Investment Law that includes performance requirements for certain investment incentives, including labour-intensive projects and geographical location. The government has also set up special economic zones with business-friendly regulations: more liberal, more efficient administration, tax incentives, facilitation of registration and customs procedures, better infrastructure, etc. However, outside these areas, it is difficult to register a new company, and instability in the country is hindering business developments in Egypt. The country ranked 114th out 190 countries in the 2020 Doing Business report of the World Bank (latest report), gaining six spots compared to the previous year.

 
Foreign Direct Investment 201820192020
FDI Inward Flow (million USD) 8,1419,0105,852
FDI Stock (million USD) 117,728126,639132,477
Number of Greenfield Investments* 9214052
Value of Greenfield Investments (million USD) 12,83213,7151,655

Source: UNCTAD, Latest available data.

Note: * Greenfield Investments are a form of Foreign Direct Investment where a parent company starts a new venture in a foreign country by constructing new operational facilities from the ground up.

 

FDI INFLOWS BY COUNTRY AND INDUSTRY

Main Investing Countries FY2018/2019, in %
UK 41.2
Belgium 14.9
USA 13.7
UAE 6.3
France 4.0
Saudi Arabia 2.6
Main Invested Sectors FY2018/2019, in %
Oil sector 61.9
Financial services 10.5
Manufacturing 9.9
Real estate 5.0
Construction 4.2

Source: Central Bank of Egypt, External Position Document July 2018/March 2019 - Latest available data.

 
Main Foreign Companies
Consult the "Success Stories" section of the General Authority For Investments (GAFI).
Sources of Statistics
Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics

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What to consider if you invest in Egypt

Strong Points

Advantages for FDI in Egypt:

  • Strategic geographic location
  • Low-cost and relatively qualified labour force
  • Growing population (more than 100 million inhabitants) that makes Egypt a strategic market in the region
  • High tourism potential
  • Important energy resources, notably natural gas
  • Public works policy, which offers many investment opportunities to foreign companies
  • A sufficiently diversified economy (energy, tourism, Suez Canal revenues, industrial base, etc.)
  • Government policy that aims at improving the business climate
Weak Points

Disadvantages for FDI in Egypt:

  • Political situation that remains tense and arouses uncertainty for foreign investors
  • Degraded regional security situation
  • Fragile banking sector
  • High poverty rate and persistent unemployment 
  • Infrastructure that remains insufficient
  • Omnipresent public sector and excessive bureaucracy 
  • Shortage of skilled labour
  • Cumbersome customs procedures and non-tariff trade barriers
Government Measures to Motivate or Restrict FDI

Since September 2004, the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) has established an economic program to attract foreign investors, together with an average reduction of 35% customs duties and tariff simplification. Furthermore, Egypt enjoys the support of the FMI to put into place economic reforms (new VAT rate, reduction of subsidies on fuel and electricity, etc.). It shows the government's willingness to improve the business climate, which remains complex. Thus, after the Revolution, Egypt put into place restrictions on capital transfer. Investors are claiming that the approval of transfers may take several weeks.  

Several "megaprojects" may attract foreign investors in the coming years. Siemens already developed the largest gas power generation plant in the world, Egypt also plans to develop a large logistic and industrial platform around the Suez Canal, a new administrative capital city and large agrarian and mining projects.

In most sectors, foreigners benefit from the same treatment as nationals. A joint venture is needed to operate in certain sectors, namely hydrocarbons and real estate. The Law on Imports and Exports was amended to allow enterprises to be 51% Egyptian-owned to import (before, the enterprises had to be 100% Egyptian owned).
The country implemented a number of regulatory reforms, namely a new investment law in 2017; a new companies law and a bankruptcy law in 2018; and a new customs law in 2020 (fi the establishment is under the provisions of the new investment law, it will benefit from a 2% unified custom tax over all imported machinery, equipment, and devices required for the set-up of the company).
More information on governmental measures to attract FDI in Egypt is available on the website of the
General Authority for Investment, which developed a special desk for investors. 

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Protection of Foreign Investment

Bilateral Investment Conventions Signed By Egypt
Egypt has signed bilateral agreements with more than a hundred countries, including most of the European Union countries, the United States and several African countries, the Middle-East and Asia. On the Mediterranean Basin, Egypt has signed bilateral conventions with Algeria, Spain, France, Greece, Italy, Libya, Lebanon, Malta, Morocco, Portugal, Tunisia and Turkey. An agreement with the Mercosur bloc of Latin American nations is also into force.
These conventions can be referred to on UNCTAD's Investment Policy Hub.
International Controversies Registered By UNCTAD
Consult UNCTAD's Investment Dispute Settlement Navigator.
Member of the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency
Egypt is a signatory of the MIGA Convention.
 
Country Comparison For the Protection of Investors Egypt Middle East & North Africa United States Germany
Index of Transaction Transparency* 8.0 6.4 7.0 5.0
Index of Manager’s Responsibility** 3.0 4.8 9.0 5.0
Index of Shareholders’ Power*** 3.0 4.7 9.0 5.0

Source: Doing Business - Latest available data.

Note: *The Greater the Index, the More Transparent the Conditions of Transactions. **The Greater the Index, the More the Manager is Personally Responsible. *** The Greater the Index, the Easier it Will Be For Shareholders to Take Legal Action.

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Procedures Relative to Foreign Investment

Freedom of Establishment
In theory, freedom of establishment is guaranteed in most of Egypt, except for certain areas (like the Sinai Peninsula). In practice, foreign companies can face some discrimination compared to their competitors from the Egyptian public sector.
Acquisition of Holdings
The acquisition of the majority interest in a domestic company is allowed in Egypt. In fact, the Egyptian Companies Law does not set any limitation on the number of foreigners, neither as shareholders nor as managers/board members. Only in the case of Limited Liability Companies at least one of the managers should be an Egyptian citizen.
Obligation to Declare
Companies are required to obtain a commercial and tax license, and pass an often lenghty security clearance process. The investor has to declare the following information: the name of the contracting parties, the company's legal form, the name of the company, the type of activity, the company's length of existance and its capital, the Egyptian and non-Egyptian contribution percentage, the means of subscription and each partner's liabilities.
Competent Organisation For the Declaration
GAFI
Requests For Specific Authorisations
The Import-Export Law requires companies wishing to register in the import registry to be 51% owned and managed by Egyptians, although the new Investment Law allows companies wholly owned by foreigners to import goods and materials.
Several laws (Law No. 15 of 1963, Law No. 143 of 1981, and Law No. 230 of 1996) limit the ownership of land by foreigners.

Learn more about Foreign Investment in Egypt on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Office Real Estate and Land Ownership

Possible Temporary Solutions
Consult InstantOffices, PropertyFinder and Coworker.
The Possibility of Buying Land and Industrial and Commercial Buildings
Under Law no. 230 non-Egyptians are allowed to own real estate (vacant or built) only under the following conditions:

  • Ownership is limited to two real estate properties in Egypt that serve as accommodation for the owner and his family, in addition to the right to own real estate needed for activities licensed by the Egyptian government
  • The area of each real estate property does not exceed 4,000 m²
  • The real estate is not considered a historical site.

Furthermore, Law no. 15 of 1963 stipulates that no foreigners, whether natural or juristic persons, may acquire agricultural land.

Risk of Expropriation
The Investment Incentives Law provides guarantees against full or partial expropriation of real estate.
Private companies can take cases of alleged expropriation to court. Nevertheless, it can take several years to resolve a case.

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Investment Aid

Forms of Aid
Among the incentives and guarantees, are protection against expropriation and compulsory pricing, full right of profit and dividend repatriation, no export requirements, access to dispute resolution committees administered by GAFI, unfettered access to land in Upper Egypt.
Other incentives include a 10-year tax exemption for land cultivation and production activities related to livestock, poultry and fish; as well as a 2% unified custom tax over all imported machinery, equipment, and devices required for the set-up of the company and a 30% deduction of the investment costs (50% for investments in the geographical region "A"), up to 80% of the paid-up capital of the company.
Privileged Domains
FDI incentives take the form of tax exemptions and deductions, job-creation subsidies, administrative support, credit facilities, etc.
Privileged Geographical Zones
For sector-specific information, refer to the dedicated page on the official platform InvestInEgypt.
Free Zones
There are investment zones in different regions of the country, as well as free zones and special economic zones.
Investments in the for geographical region "A" (the regions the most in need of development as well as designated projects in Suez Canal Special Economic Zone and the “Golden Triangle” along the Red Sea between the cities of Safaga, Qena and El Quseer) enjoy a 50% deduction of the investment cost from their net profit subject to the income tax (up to 80% of the paid-up capital of the company).
Incentives are available in the governorates of Upper Egypt (EGP 15,000 for each job opportunity created by projects worth at least EGP 15 million).
Public aid and funding organisations
You can consult the Ministry of Investment, the National Bank of Egypt and the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones.
 
 

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Investment Opportunities

The Key Sectors of the National Economy
Agriculture and food-processing industry, tourism, gas industry, telecommunications and media. 
High Potential Sectors
Education (more than 50 million students, at all level of education), franchises, health industry, renewable energy, security services.
Privatization Programmes
Nearly 150 companies are yet to be privatised, among which approximately fifty are in the textile sector as well as ten airports. Between 1991 and 2008, a privatisation program has been deployed. After the 2011 Revolution, some members of the government tried to step back on some privatisation, but most of these cases are still under appeal.
The latest privatisation program was announced in 2018, involving 23 enterprises (including up to 30% of the shares of Banque du Caire). However, the program has suffered delays due to adverse market conditions and increased global volatility.
Tenders, Projects and Public Procurement
Globaltenders, Tenders & Projects from Egypt
Tenders Info, Tenders in Egypt
DgMarket, Tenders Worldwide

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Sectors Where Investment Opportunities Are Fewer

Monopolistic Sectors
The banking system is exclusively held by the State, although a program for the privatization of 30% of the shares of Banque du Caire had been announced (currently on hold).
In the telecommunications sector, the state operator Telecom Egypt had a monopoly until end of 2016 on land lines. Now it is also operating mobile phone lines and both sectors are open to competition.
4.5% of the shares of state-owned Eastern Tobacco Company have been offered on the stock market.

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Learn more about Investing in Egypt on Globaltrade.net, the Directory for International Trade Service Providers.

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Latest Update: May 2022