The Smart National Business Agenda (SNBA) is a breakthrough in policy advocacy. 

In January 2019, the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) launched the first national agenda for urgent reforms —Urgent Reform Agenda; it included reform measures that can be implemented in a short-term horizon to boost industrial growth rates and increase foreign direct investment flows into the Egyptian industrial sector. FEI considers this agenda a launchpad for forging a systematic and constructive interaction between the Egyptian industrial community and the state’s executive agencies; the agenda presents and discusses all obstacles and challenges facing the Egyptian industry and provides realistic and quick solutions that should lead to concrete results in the short term, in parallel with achieving the comprehensive development strategy on long-term.

The first edition was intended to be a living document that evolves with changing conditions; it was to be systematically updated periodically to reflect changes that have taken place on the ground. Thus, this third edition track changes in the business environment with regards to the economic challenges facing investors since January 2019, and captures progress in implementing the recommendations contained in the first two editions. In preparing the updated editions, due attention is given to soliciting the views of FEI’s member chambers and including their feedback in the document, as well as developing and fine-tuning the agenda to further the development of the industrial sector and promote investment in Egypt.

The agenda is structured around several cross-cutting priority challenges that have clear negative impacts on the efficiency and the smooth running of industrial processes and deter many foreign investors from investing in the industrial sector.  At the same time, it presents industry-specific issues and challenges faced by a number of industries within the sector; addressing these challenges promises to spur growth in these industries.

Accordingly, the recommended reforms are divided into two categories: 1) cross-cutting reforms and 2) sector-specific reforms. The former includes general reforms targeting areas including taxes, customs, industrial land acquisition, property registration, the cashless economy, industrial licensing, utilities, and public services, shipping, transportation, storage services, and the Labor Law. The latter presents proposed reforms that are relevant to specific sectors, including pharmaceuticals, food processing, and agriculture products, petroleum, mining, mineral resource processing, automotive, grain, leather, and metallurgy. It should be emphasized that the recommended reforms were carefully reviewed and well-vetted with the broad industrial community to ensure that they do not have any negative repercussions on any industry within the sector or any other sector and that their benefits are broad-based.

In this regard, it is worth mentioning that in developing the recommendations, FEI, in partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise(CIPE), has sought input and feedback from multiple stakeholders, including FEI’s member chambers of industry, the Egyptian Center for Economic Studies (regarding domestic industries), and the American Chamber of Commerce (regarding foreign investment). Thus, the proposed recommendations reflect a broad consensus among a wide spectrum of Egyptian industrialists.

Recognizing the pivotal role of the private sector and a free market economy in achieving sustainable development and benefiting the Egyptian economy, FEI notes that accelerating the implementation of these reforms will translate into tangible results, including improving Egypt’s ranking in the Global Competitiveness Report, which, in turn, will contribute to increasing the rate of foreign direct investment, as well as enhancing the business environment for domestic investors. Additionally, easing the rules and regulations for the private sector—one of the proposed areas for reform—will result in increasing production and exports, improving the quality of products, diversifying production methods, and driving innovation.

Last but not least, FEI praises the government’s responsiveness and prompt actions that resulted from the fruitful dialogue between the private sector and decision-makers; progress reported in this third edition is a testament to the government’s responsiveness. At the same time, FEI reiterates that it is important that decision-makers carry out legal analysis to estimate the impact of a proposed bill, as well as cost-benefit analysis before making any decision; besides, it emphasizes that it is imperative to provide the industrial sector with direct financial support, which must be specific in terms of amount and designated uses.