Doing Business in and with Egypt - Import and Export Opportunities
The Egyptian people are said to be amongst the friendliest in the world, willing to help out strangers in need and offering generous welcomes. However being an Arab and Islamist state there are many social and cultural behaviours that are different to those of the west. This is true not only in day to day life, but also when meeting and negotiating in a business capacity, even down to the greetings. There are many various ways to greet people in Egyptian culture depending on the person and situation, therefore if conducting business with people in Egypt it isbest to allow them to initiate the greeting that they feel is appropriate.
There are several behaviours that need to be avoided when doing business in the country, including crossing your legs when seated and showing the sole of your foot, both of which are thought to be offensive. As too is giving thumbs up as a positive sign, not only in Egypt but the entire Arab world. The left hand is considered dirty, and any gesture should be given with your right hand, as too the passing of any gift to your counterpart.
When conducting business in Egypt it’s important to know when business is conducted and how. The typical working and business day in Egypt is seasonal, with working days in the summer between 8am and 2pm and in the winter 9am to 1pm with an extra 2 hours in the evening between 5pm and 7pm. It is also important to note that Friday is the Muslim holy day so no work will be conducted on this day, and very often not on Thursdays either. Also during the period of Ramadan many businesses and government offices have shortened hours.
5 Products worth importing from Egypt
Egypt with its coastal location which makes it ideal for freight shipments, is also a fascinating country for importing from, with a number of great products. Below 5 products you might want to consider importing from Egypt.
- Cotton Fibres and products - Cotton is a delicate, fluffy and soft material that is most commonly spun to create yarn and thread which are then made into textile fabrics that are breathable and soft. There are approximately 25 million tonnes of cotton produced annually around the world with sales from the continent of Africa accounting for $2 billion. As well textiles cotton can also be used to make coffee filters, fishing nets, explosives and tents.
- Petroleum and related products - Egypt has a wealth of crude oil and gas reserves throughout the country, with the major oil producing region being located in the Western Desert and the Gulf of Suez. The amount money made in the export of petroleum from Egypt was $2.6 billion in 2001. There have been over 150 new agreements to explore the country for oil over the past few years.
- Essential Oils and Perfumes - The production of essential oils has been a tradition in Egypt for thousands of years. Although production techniques have been modernised the ingredients have remained the same and are extremely pure. Oils such as sandal wood can be used for massaging and they have fragrances that can be used as incense to relax or to help get rid of ailments.
- Gold - The mining of gold in Egypt is a relatively new and growing industry with the discovery of huge gold reserves throughout the Eastern Desert. It is believed that the money that can be made from the sale of mined gold will exceed that from the tourism industry, petroleum production and the Suez Canal all combined.
- Electricals and appliances - There is a growing industry in Egypt in the production of many household electrical appliances including refrigerators, washing machines and cookers. These are produced relatively cheaply so are perfect for trying to sell as exports to other countries.
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