TURKISH FIRM IN EGYPT FEAR GREATER UNCERTAINTY

Today-s-Zaman 05.07.2013 276
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A constructiorı vvorker buiids a wal! near arıother wall covered with grafftti along Mohamed Mahmoud Street nearTahrir Square. Turkish construction firms are very aetive in the country's infrastrueture projeets. Turkish firms in Egypt FEAR GREATER UNCERTAINTY An ailing Egyptian economy, hit further by an ongoirıg political impasse, now vvomes Turkish businesses among others who lıave long-running iııvestmentand trade relations with the North African country. The Egyptian armed forces ousted Hgvpt's first democratically eleeted president, Mohammcd Morsi, on VVednesdav, fueling concerns of a deeper economic recessionin the country. Turkish companies and trade unions doing business in Egypt met on Thursday to discuss Öte developments in the country, calling on political players to ease tlıe tension before hanning the economy further. The North African country had already been struggling vvith budget problems since tlıe January 2011 revolution that forced former President Hosni Mubarak to step dovvn. Egypt's descent into even deeper political turmoil vvill almost certainl}' put a multi-billiorı dollar intemational bailout oıı hold and lead to an even more painful economic crisis, with vvorsening fud shortages and higher prices of basic goods. One of Turkey's leading trade partners in the region, Egypt hosts 250 Turkish companies with an estimated investment of $2 billion. Turkish investments in Egypt are nıostly focused on tlıe construction and textile sectors along with food and infrastructurc. Around 60,000 Egyptians are employed by Turkish entrepreneurs vvithin Egypt. Turkey sold $1.59 billion \vorth of products to Egypt last year. Most Turkish businesses in Egypt lıave reservations regarding tlıe upcoming period of uncertainties vvhile others are optimistic tlıat things vvill return to normal faster than expected. Tlıe Foreign Economic Relations Board's (DEİK) Zuhal Mansfield vvas in the optimistic canip on Thursday. Evaluating tlıe latest devdopnıeııts, Mansfield said Turkish businesses are detennined to maintain and even make new investments in Egypt, underlirıing that the country remained a critical door to African markets. "1 can easily say tlıat Turkish companies have leamed how to survive under similar conditians. ... We ourselves faced coups iıı Turkey and the key here is not to panic but contiııue vvorking hard," she aaserted. Mansfield opts to encourage Turkish firms to maintain market shares in Egypt even though the cost of invest ing in Egypt could be a headache for many in tlıe near future. Observers argue that inereasing fuel slıortages and blackouts and a sudden aııd slıarp depreciation of tlıe curreııcv could make everythiııg relatively more expeı\sive. Add to this list of higher costs employee salaries. Furthermore, a depletion of foreign currency reserves could make importing critical oil and food items into Egypt difficult, affeeting Turkislı exports to this part of the vvorîd. Mansfield notes tlıat mutual trade volume betvveen Turkey and Egypt reached $5.2 billion in 2012, a figüre vvhich tlıe Turkislı govemıııent and ousted Egyptian President Mora lıad earîier pledged to inerease to $7 billion. According to representatives of textile producers - - one of tlıe tvvo majör trade items vvith Egypt — tlıere is a threat of foreign buyers canceling textile products orders from Egypt. istanbul Ready-to-Wear and Appard Exporters Assodation (İHKJB) President Hikmet Tannverdi said in İstanbul on Thursday that large customers of textile produced in Egypt, such as the EU and the US, could cancel or delay their orders due to the current political developments. Another union that has members doing business in Egypt is tlıe İstanbul Chanıber of Commerce (İTO). The unioıı's head, İbrahim Cağlar, in a vvritten statement on Thursday elaborated on moves to help minimize losses for Turkislı businesses in Egypt. Underlining tlıat Turkey and Egypt have long-running trade and political relations. Cağlar said tlıe}' vvould also consult vvith the Turkish government and Egyptian local authorities to help ease tensions that pose a risk for investments. The amıy enjoys a unique role in Egypt's economic life; it has de facto control on 87 percent of Egyptian soil according to the lavvs. Ali civil projeets and investments in this realııı are monitored and approved by tlıe anııed forces. The armv itself is aetive in a number of investment fields from energy and food to electronics and heavy industry. Army persoruıel are among tlıose employed in army facilities. İstanbul Today's Zaman vvith wires