Egypt Offers India Special Zone for Business

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suezNov. 3 – In an act of business diplomacy, Egypt has invited India to build an “India industrial zone” in the Suez development area as a means to set up joint ventures with Egyptian companies.

Meeting in Cairo last week, Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif offered Indian Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma a designated area for setting up a zone exclusively for Indian companies.

India could benefit tremendously from the offer as it not only provides access to Egypt’s customers, it gives easier entry to the European and African markets given that Egypt has preferential access to both.

The Suez development area, located on the Northwest coast of the Gulf of Suez, has lower bureaucratic barriers to business formation and provides tax incentives for priority areas, such as infrastructure, auto parts, software, oil field services, tourism and manufacturing.

“Special industrial zones in Egypt do get a lot of tax benefits. The exact structure of the benefits to be given to the proposed India zone will be worked out,” an unnamed government official told The Economic Times.

Till date, Indian companies have invested about $750 million in 40 projects in Egypt. It has a significant presence in the IT and automobile sector from companies such Wipro, Satyam, Mahindra and Tata. Mahindra, which sells Scorpio in the Egypt, is also eager to set up a production zone in the country while IT company TCS is expected to get established there soon.

Mr Sharma, who also participated in the informal mini-ministerial meeting of the African group on the on-going Doha round of the WTO trade negotiations, emphasized India’s support to the cause of the least developed countries (LDCs).

“It was already agreed in the September informal ministerial in Delhi that the work agenda for LDCs on all issues should be put on fast track for negotiating convergence,” he said.