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Egypt hopes reform will boost investment

Can Egypt's reformist government meet its promises to reduce the state's economic role while attracting more FDI?

Nazif: the prime minister hopes
offers of investment from foreigners
into new and existing projects will
boost Egypt's GDP growth

EGYPT'S GROWTH PROSPECTS are upbeat. Prime minister Ahmed Nazif said in February that the economy would grow by 6% in the next financial year. In September 2004, 5.5% growth for the current financial year was being forecast, up from 4.1% in 2003/04. Nazif attributes the brighter outlook to "the rise in levels of investment and new offers the government has received from international companies to establish new projects in the Egyptian market or to expand existing projects". After a high of $1.2 billion in 2000, FDI dropped to $510 million in 2001, and has remained startlingly low since. Recent years have also witnessed poor privatization receipts: 166 companies were sold off during the 1990s, raising E£154 billion ($26.6 billion), but privatization ground to a virtual halt after the 2001 downturn.

A boost to FDI, and reinvigoration of privatization are major goals of Egypt's new, reformist government. The reshuffle of July 2004 involved the appointment of Nazif, the former minister of telecommunications and IT, to the head of government post.

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