Cairo – Mubasher: Rania El-Mashat, Egypt's Minister of International Cooperation, highlighted the opportunities going ahead with a wealth of public-private partnerships projects taking place in Egypt, during the plenary session “The Rise of Regional Champions: The Search of Resilience” at the 2020 Bloomberg New Economy Forum, alongside Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and CEO of Adnoc, and Bruce Flatt, CEO of Brookfield Asset, moderated by Manus Cranny, Bloomberg Television Anchor.
Today, emerging economies in Africa, Asia and the Middle East are disrupting the narrative and creating their own stories of resilience, growth, and development. During her speech, El-Mashat affirmed that 2021 is a ‘critical year’ for regional economies to champion green, sustainable, and inclusive growth, according to a statement.
The Bloomberg New Economy Forum, a major global convening of business and political leaders, sheds light on investment opportunities in rising regional economies that are playing an increasingly important role. Participants of the forum included a line-up of prominent speakers such as Christine Lagarde, forum Honorary Chair Henry Kissinger, and Co-Chair Henry Paulson, Jr, as well as Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and many others.
A REGIONAL POWERHOUSE - EGYPT’S PREDICTABLE POLICY
El-Mashat illustrated Egypt’s success in creating an enabling policy environment that helped ensure macroeconomic stability. Egypt entered the crisis with strong buffers that kept it relatively shielded from the economic fallout, primarily thanks to the IMF-backed economic reform programme which enabled the policy transparency and predictability that is crucial for foreign investors, El-Mashat said.
The approval of the $5.2 billion standby loan from the IMF during the crisis is a signal to investors that policymakers have not lost sight of the long-term reform goal, she said, adding that investments made in education and digital infrastructure enabled the country to “breeze through” the lockdown period.
“The important thing is to have predictable policy,” the minister stated, “Egypt has continued to expand on reforms, whether fiscal or monetary which created a conducive environment to attract FDIs and ODA.”
RISE OF REGIONAL ECONOMIES – THE NEW NORMAL
Egypt’s story of resilience was echoed during the EBRD and World Bank Annual Meetings; where Egypt was singled out as the only country in the region with positive growth rates of 2% in 2020 and expectations of positive growth rates in 2021 with 5% - supported partly by infrastructure and a boom in the telecommunications sector through public-private partnerships.
With Egypt positioned to be among the handful of countries to avoid recession this year and the large infrastructure investment programmes underway, the country will continue to attract investors in the post-covid economic climate, El-Mashat said.
The Egyptian government endorses the principles of “stakeholder capitalism”, the roadmap to promote inclusive economic growth in the region, which include: crafting inclusive economic policies and a new social contract, stimulating economic integration, reshaping education systems, harnessing the Fourth Industrial Revolution, promoting environmental sustainability, mitigating global health risks, and committing to good and agile governance.
PROACTIVE ECONOMIC DIPLOMACY
Multilateralism is not dead, the minister stated, as governments alone cannot stand alone in facing this crisis and must include the participation of international institutions, the private sector, and an empowered civil society. “I call the years 2020-2021 ‘Years of Multilateralism’; no country or region can stay in isolation and this is the role of international cooperation”.
El-Mashat reiterated that Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation – through a portfolio of $25 billion, is shifting mindsets through ‘Economic Diplomacy’ with three key principles: Multi-Stakeholder Platforms, ODA Sustainable Development Goals Mapping Framework, the Global Partnerships Narrative (People at the Core, Projects in Action, and Purpose as the Driver).
Transforming projects into success stories for the region, the minister referred to Egypt’s transformation from power storages to become a hub for energy production, connecting the electricity grid with the Mediterranean and Africa. Egypt has also built the world’s largest solar array at the Benban Solar Park in the Aswan Governorate, which includes 13 private sector companies involved in the project, employs more than 10,000 people, houses 32 power plants and is expected to avoid 2 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions a year, the equivalent of taking about 400,000 cars off the road.
El-Mashat participated in the previous 2019 Bloomberg New Economy Forum, which took place in Beijing, China, with the theme “A New Community for a New Economy”. During the forum, El-Mashat was among a few selected, including Henry Kissinger, Henry Paulson, David Rubestein, Tidjane Thiam to meet the Chinese President, XI Jinping.