Supporting the Mediterranean through more trade and investment was the core of the discussions of Gert Jan Koopman, EC DG NEAR Director-General with Dr. Alaa Ezz, Secretary General of the Confederation of Egyptian European Chambers CEEBA and European Projects Commission of ASCAME, the Mediterranean Association of Chambers of Commerce.
The Meeting was attended by Henrike Trautmann the Director Neighbourhood South and Türkiye, Florian Ermacora, head of Unit North Africa, Francisco Joaquin Gaztelu Mezquiriz, head of unit Migration, Sophie Vanhaeverbeke Head of Cooperation and Nikolaos Zaimis heads the Trade Section.
The aim was ensuring that the economy works for people, that it is green, digital, and connected, supported by the coordination of financing instruments, and maximizing the use of private sector of blended finance and EU guarantees, especially through the EU’s investment framework for external action and the European Fund for Sustainable Development Plus (EFSD+) providing guarantees, blended finance and technical assistance with a firepower of €53,45 billion till 2027.
The win-win approach proposed was through mobilizing EU companies for more trade and investment with Egypt and the Mediterranean region especially through co-manufacturing and subcontracting in the south to access free trade areas of over 3 billion consumer markets with low cost and easy access, hence increasing exports of both sides in the same time while creating the highly needed jobs. It is so simple and applies to industries where it is either freight or tariff sensitive.
In that regards, revival of effective and successful EU economic integration initiatives like the Partenariate, Enterprise and Task Force is a must, supported by blending the various successful EU regional and cross border programmes such as EBSOMED and ENI CBC MED along with EU sectorial bilateral projects and EU Member States projects to ensure effectiveness and capitalization.
A major investment conference was proposed to be held in Cairo during the last quarter of 2023 to be replicated in other south Mediterranean countries with the support of the key regional business support organizations, namely ASCAME, gathering more than 300 chambers of commerce and with the aim of being the voice of the private sector along the Mediterranean, and with a community that brings a long-term competitive, sustainable and inclusive development in the region. BusinessMed, BusinessEurope and EuroChambres along with their members, hundreds of chambers and federations with over 20-million-member companies, where the EU EBSOMED Business Country Desks Platform will provide pre-matchmaking to ensure realization of partnerships.
Following the Partenariate steps the investment conference will be preceded by demand driven selection of sectors, preparation of sectorial concept papers, selection of local counterparts with specific proposals, conclusion of the Meda-Finance Survey of over 22 billion Euros of grants, technical assistance, and soft loans, then a series of roadshows in EU Member States promoting the partnerships ending up in Brussels, to be followed by the major investment conference in Cairo.
The investment conference will start with plenaries presenting the new reforms, sectorial opportunities, and financial instruments, to be split into sectorial conferences and B2Bs. Also the creation of a Pan Mediterranean TVET international Certification system was discussed aiming at supporting FDI, facilitating legal migration, and increasing the earnings of Mediterranean labour abroad especially in the gulf, where repatriations of Egyptian workers abroad is the number one foreign currency earner exceeding 32 billion dollars annually.