Bilateral relations

Egypt is Australia’s 57th largest trading partner. Total goods and services trade amounted to $778 million in 2019, making up 0.1% of Australia’s total trade portfolio. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, total goods and services trade grew more than 4% per annum over the five years to 2019. The pandemic disrupted bilateral trade in 2020. Australia’s largest exports to Egypt include vegetables, wool, wheat and meat. Australian imports from Egypt are very small.

Egypt imports 40% of its food, and a number of Australian companies supply meat, grains and pulses and vegetables to Egyptian retailers. There are also Australian owned food and beverage companies operating in Egypt, including the supermarket chain Gourmet Egypt. Given a rapidly growing population, Egypt’s demand for food and beverages will continue to grow, particularly for higher quality proteins and produce. Silo Bags Australia in partnership with Connexxion is one Australian firm that has successfully conducted business in Egypt. Opportunities also exist for Australian companies to provide training programs and equipment for modern irrigation techniques in agriculture production.

Services trade is small. The COVID-19 pandemic and associated international travel restrictions disproportionately hurt services trade in 2020. Ongoing international travel restrictions points to another challenging year for services exports in 2021. Prior to the pandemic, approximately 470 Egyptians enrolled in universities across Australia in 2019. The Egyptian government’s efforts to reform and improve the education system includes an explicit agenda to attract foreign institutions; this may provide opportunities for Australian providers to open branch campuses, or deliver Australian content through curriculum licencing or fly in/fly out teaching programs. Egypt’s initiatives to improve public administration and ICT capabilities may also create opportunities for Australian technology and vocational institutions. Moreover, many upper-and middle-class Egyptians send their children abroad to study, offering opportunities for Australian education institutions to attract Egyptian students.

Bilateral investment between Egypt and Australia has grown in recent years but remains small. The stock of Australian investment in Egypt totalled $249 million in 2019, equivalent to less than 0.01% of Australia’s international investment portfolio. FDI flows are primarily concentrated in the oil and gas sector. An Australian company, Centamin, manages Egypt’s only gold mine, while a number of other companies have exploration or development concessions, or mining equipment, training and services interests. Worley Parsons won a contract to advise Egypt on the construction of its first nuclear power plant. Egypt’s vast mineral wealth may present further investment opportunities for Australian firms.