AmCham Egypt takes on the Chairmanship of the MENA Council 2022-2024
And AmCham Dubai becomes Vice Chair
Chairmanship Transfer Ceremony took place on March 15th in Amman-Jordan on the margins of the 10th AmCham MENA Regional Council Conference
Message from AmCham MENA Council Newly Appointed Chair
Mr. Tarek Tawfik, President of AmCham Egypt
Dear AmCham MENA Council Members:
AmCham Egypt is proud to take on the leadership of the AmCham MENA Regional Council; the largest business forum in our region, comprising ten affiliates of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and focusing on promoting trade and investment between the United States and markets of the Middle East, North Africa and Gulf Regions.
The Council works on identifying opportunities for investment among members and with the United States, connecting members throughout the region, providing a forum for discussion, and exchanging best practices between member AmChams.
I would like to take this opportunity to acknowledge the noteworthy accomplishments of my friend and immediate predecessors in the AmCham MENA Chair position; Mr. Mohamed Bataineh, Chairman of AmCham Jordan, where under his leadership three new regional AmChams joined the Council as Members: AmCham Dubai, AmCham Kuwait, and AmCham Qatar; with the Council now representing the collective interests of more than 4,000 Members from across the MENA Region. During his tenure, the Council also witnessed an increased level of cooperation with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce Middle East Office, and a partnership with the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE). Council Members convened three times, to attend major Council events in Amman and Washington DC. And while the onset of Covid-19 has limited our ability to meet in person, it has allowed for an increased level of cross-AmChams cooperation virtually.
Our dear Members, it is worth noting that following two years of challenges imposed by the pandemic, regional countries are staring to re-emerge, some stronger than others, given the pandemic has exacerbated the region’s already existing challenges. The IMF projects the Middle East will expand by 4.1% in 2022, but the reality is that with fiscal and monetary space narrowing in most economies, the recovery remains uneven.
Additionally, growth assumptions rest on a continued COVID-19 vaccination rollout across the region, at varying speeds, which would counter potential upcoming waves of infections, and on high energy prices and rising oil production.
At the same time, global supply chain disruptions, resulting from recent geopolitical developments, coupled with unprecedented high energy prices, are triggering upward pressures on consumer prices, more so in energy-importing MENA economies.
It is also a fact that MENA faces an urgent jobs challenge. Recent projections show that nearly 300 million people will enter the job market by 2050. This represents enormous productive potential for economies of the region—provided this infusion of human capital is matched by a competitive private sector; improved services; and strengthened governance, transparency, and accountability.
While reform policies by regional governments have helped economies adjust in recent years, a second phase of reforms should be transformative if the region is to reach its full potential.
Accordingly, MENA countries must pursue strategies that respond to the immediate health, social, and economic imperatives of COVID-19, while adopting structural reforms that help restore trust, strengthen human capital, support jobs and economic transformation, advance gender equity, address fragility, and enable sustainable green growth.
The private sector has an important role to play in advocating for a renewed role of the state from the main provider of employment to an enabler of private sector activity.
Promoting competition and innovation, reforming state-owned enterprises, removing trade barriers, and promoting macroeconomic stability are regional priorities. Additionally raising productivity, improving business environments, investing in human capital, and accelerating digital transformation are essential.
As the pandemic continues to test the resilience of our economies, international trade and investment will always be indispensable to economic recovery, as well as the need to reinforce and expand existing cooperation frameworks among the MENA countries and with the U.S., as the world’s largest economy and the global leader in technology and innovation.
Bilateral trade flows between the United States and MENA follow the usual pattern of exchanging U.S. manufactured products for crude oil from MENA. This leaves much room for deeper economic ties, however, U.S. businesses still face a number of tariff and non-tariff barriers that have to be overcome to encourage deeper trade relations.
We as AmChams in the MENA region as leading business organizations each in our respective country, shall work on fostering opportunities between our members, advocate for policies that support increased investment and trade, and to identify business opportunities between each other and with the United States.
AmCham Egypt, as new Chair of the AmCham MENA Council, is committed to working on positioning the MENA Council as the catalyst for our continued dialogue between our regional countries and the United States.
Finally, I’m very grateful for this opportunity and I’m looking forward to working closely with AmCham Dubai, the Council’s new Co-Chair and with all other member AmChams during my term to continue to create opportunities for new businesses to expand and to enhance economic growth.
President of AmCham Egypt Chairman, MENA Council of Regional AmChams