Egypts General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) has approved 13 new free zone projects with capital of $167m in the period between January and April 2021, according to the authoritys CEO Mohamed Abdel Wahab.

The data came as Abdel Wahab met with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly met, on Monday evening, to review a number of important files that the authority is working on.

During the meeting, the GAFI head reviewed the approvals and expansions that took place in free zone projects during the period from January to April 2021. He added that the 13 new projects will see investment costs amounting to $748m. 

A total of 18 capital expansion projects were implemented during the period for $131m, whilst 76 projects were expanded with investment costs of $1.3bn. This was in addition to the increase in the number of workers at 56 projects, with 3,893 new workers added across the projects.

Abdel Wahab said that the number of companies that were established during this period amounted to about 9,434 companies during the period from January to April 2021. This compared to about 6,778 companies during the same period in 2020, reflecting an increase of about 39.2%. 

The issued capital of the companies that were established amounted to about EGP 31.3bn, during the period from January to April 2021, compared to about EGP 22.7bn, reflecting an increase of about 38%.

He said that, despite the negative impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic on the movement of global investment, Egypt has attracted more foreign direct investment (FDI) in various sectors.

The Egyptian contribution to the issued capital during the period from January to April 2021 amounted to EGP 24.9bn, compared to EGP 19.2bn during the same period of 2020.

He added that foreign contributions to the capital issued during that period also amounted to about EGP 6.4bn, compared to EGP 3.5bn during the same period in 2020.

During the meeting, the GAFI head reviewed the arrangements made by the authority to arrange the first session of the Forum of African Investment Promotion Authorities’ Heads from 11 to 14 June 2021 in Sharm El-Sheikh.

He explained that the forum is scheduled to include seven important sessions to discuss files related to strengthening cooperation in business, for both the government and private sectors. This is in addition to joint business meetings between Egyptian and African businessmen.

In another context, Abdel-Wahab explained that there are currently nine public free zones that have started activities, in addition to 205 private free zone projects. The occupancy rate of these spaces allocated to receive projects in the public free zones is 85%.

He added that the number of projects operating in the free zone system amounted to 1,088, whilst the volume of capital invested in free zone projects reached $13.4bn. 

The volume of Arab and foreign capital contributions recorded $2.4bn, whilst the total investment costs for free zone projects amounted to $28.4bn. Free zone projects provide 191,000 jobs.

He pointed out that the volume of free zone activity during the period from January to April 2021 amounted to $4.8bn. This included $2.4bn in merchandise exports for free zone projects, and $2.4bn in service exports, representing the volume of service projects’ business.

He added that the surplus in the trade balance of commodity free zones’ dealings with the outside world amounted to $465m..

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