Egypt’s determination to modernise its economy is very impressive. It has conducted robust reforms over the past year, most notably to offset the macroeconomic instabilities that affect the country’s development. The resumption of talks with the IMF is in this respect a particularly encouraging sign. Its resolve to offer a favourable business environment for entrepreneurship and investment is a formidable encouragement for the business community, and in particular for foreign firms that are interested in Egypt. In achieving these goals, Egypt is not alone. It can count on the support of France.
We have come to some recent agreements in the field of defence, but our partnership goes well beyond that, and we want to take advantage of this unique moment in our relations to go even further in our economic partnership. More than 150 French companies have operations in Egypt, where they employ close to 33,000 people. Exchanges between the two countries have intensified. French investments in the country have increased 15% this year with more than $500m of new investment having been made over the past two years. France is now the fifth-largest investor in the country.
We must, however, continue to intensify our economic partnership going forward, especially in particular sectors: the Suez Canal, of course, as well as port and logistics platforms; civil nuclear power, where we must begin to cooperate more extensively; satellites; renewable energy, as Egypt is a very important partner for the success of the 2015 Paris Climate Conference; larger infrastructure projects; new cities being planned; tourism; and the small and medium-sized enterprise segment.
All of these sectors offer significant opportunities that we need to take advantage of. France is committed to standing beside Egypt. The French Development Agency has committed more than €1bn in loans in order to sustain projects in Egypt in areas such as energy and water. New loan and grant agreements with the Egyptian state were signed during my visit to the country in October 2015. Egypt has also become the first beneficiary of the public guaranties allocated by the French Insurance Company for Foreign Trade. France also wants to help implement the projects unveiled during the 2015 Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh. In the future, I think our countries can also invest together in other places, particularly Africa.
So what are France’s particular strengths? only is it a country that has clout in the political and diplomatic sphere, but it is the fifth-largest economy in the world and the second-largest in Europe. It also has this capacity to speak to everyone, most notably in this region, with a respected voice. More importantly, we have an exceptional partnership with Egypt. Egypt can count on the commitment of France. I say to Egyptian entrepreneurs that they should come and invest in our country. We want more French entrepreneurs to come and invest in Egypt. It is undoubtedly the country of the future in this region and enjoys the strong support of a range of international partners from the across the globe. has a large domestic market, a diversified economy and an enviable geostrategic position.
So, in conclusion, France and its companies renew our support in your mission to reform the Egyptian economy. To the Egyptian business community, I say that our companies are at your service and that you can find here, as well as in France, the partners that you need. To the French companies with whom I share this idea, the challenges that Egypt faces offer just as many opportunities. When great countries such as Egypt and France work together to assure the security of the region, encourage growth and build the future, it is good news. It is good news for Egypt, it is good news for France, it is good news for our economies, and it is good news for the world.