The major objective of Egyptian foreign policy has been to contribute to international peace and prosperity. This goal of peace and economic growth has brought great improvement to Egypt's economy. Egypt has gone beyond its goal of making peace with Israel alone and has continued her efforts to establish peace based on justice between Israel and her Arab neighbors in general, and the Palestinian people in particular.
It is obvious that the five devastating wars that Egypt suffered through in a period of 25 years did indeed severely damage Egypt's economy and had a negative impact on its people and their traditions.Egypt's natural resources have been the primary element in the government's developmental plans because of the growing population and the dramatic political changes experienced since 1952, when Jamal Abdul Nasir became the first Egyptian leader of Egypt in more than 2,000 years.
Egypt is an agricultural country by nature, with rich soil and water reserves. Agriculture is its primary source of income and employment, through which more than half of the total manpower earns a living. The country's agricultural development depends on five main elements: land area, water, material, livestock and human resources. Egypt has a land area of 247 million acres, the cultivated portion, however, is only 3 percent. More than 75 percent of the total area of Egypt is potentially fertile desert land; at least sufficient to support "arid land" agriculture. Egypt is rich in water with over 60 billion cubic meters of Nile River, groundwater, and recycled drainage water.
By the year 2000, Egypt is expected to cultivate approximately an additional 2.1 million acres of land. This statistic illuminates the business opportunities that could result from cultivating more land in Egypt. Agricultural projects are currently among the most profitable investment ventures there. Egypt needs to employ the most modern and sophisticated methods available to transfer the technology needed to solve its economic problems.
Foreign investment incentives range from: tax exemptions for five to 15 years, repatriation of profits and capital, customs-duty exemptions, and guarantees against commercial risks. All investment transactions receive the highest official exchange rate for foreign currency. The Egyptian investment law provides foreign investment projects with many privileges and guarantees to encourage their establishment in the country.
The development and modernization of new agricultural areas in Egypt will open a wide range of markets. People follow agricultural development areas where towns, industries, factories, schools, hospitals and services are created or expanded. With approximately 50 million people (the largest consumer market in the Middle East) and a unique geographical location, positioned at the crossroads of three major continents providing easy access to large and varied markets, trade with Egypt can be very lucrative.
Companies ranging from textiles to pharmaceuticals, furniture to food processing, elevators to aluminum sprang up as a result of the new and expanding emphasis on the private sector in Egypt's economic development. This emphasis reflects the priorities; namely agriculture, housing and construction, tourism, and supportive services in Egypt's new economic plan. These priorities have been established to address the essential needs of Egypt's people. The resulting enterprises benefit from the availability of locally skilled workers in quantity, an essential factor of production.
Having a broad industrial base with an established system of vocational training centers adds to Egypt's many assets. These businesses represent new technology being introduced and accepted and are producing high returns on their investments. It is, of course, equally true that investment is needed if Egypt is to grow and prosper. National and indigenous resources need to be supplemented to effectively meet the economic realities.
During a conversation with El Sayed El Reedy, Egyptian ambassador to the United States, about business opportunities for U.S. businesses in Egypt, the ambassador stated that Egypt offers unique opportunities to U.S. business which are rarely offered by any other country in the Third World. The ambassador says "A bit of patience is required on the part of the American businessman interested in the Egyptian market. The process is slow but it is worth the effort."