The Egyptian government wants to double the value of the country's agricultural exports by 2025. Our speakers tell us how the government is looking to strengthen the sector through trade deals economic reforms and special programmes addressing weaknesses in the system
The Egyptian economy has traditionally been dominated by the state in various guises but the current government is seeking to increase the role of the private sector. Egyptian farmers and agribusiness are already substantial exporters but the industry has long been identified as one of the biggest drivers of growth. While other trade flows are affected by fluctuations in the health of the global economy, agricultural exports are generally fairly resilient.
Cairo hopes to boost exports from $25bn last year, which was a 10.6% increase on 2017, to $50bn by 2025. The export sectors that have experienced most growth were petrochemicals, fertilisers, textiles, engineering and electronics, with agriculture expected to drive growth over the next few years. Egypt's Minister of Trade and Industry Amr Nassar said that this year will be vital in terms of negotiations over both the African Free Trade Agreement and a free trade deal with the Eurasian Economic Union. Taken together, the two agreements will give Egyptian exporters better access to 60 markets.
Speaking at the African Business Egypt Agribusiness Roundtable in Cairo last month, Traek Kashwaa, the Head of the Minister's Technical Office, Ministry of Trade and Industry, said that the economic reforms agreed with the IMF had been particularly important for the agriculture sector, as special programmes had been set up to promote new technology, greater use of irrigation and the adoption of new crops for exports. Cairo also wants to make the country self-sufficient in many commodities that it currently imports--after Indonesia it is the world's biggest importer of wheat.
According to Hossam Younes, the Director General of Export Sector Affairs, Export Development Authority (EDA), the agriculture and agri-business sector in Egypt was facing a number of different problems: weak value chain in terms of infrastructure and logistics, as well as the poor reputation of some of its products. As a result they had put together three main pillars to the EDA's strategy for tackling those problems:
Drafting an agri-business policy in collaboration with the Export Council of Agriculture, while working in cooperation with...