Six years before beginning official diplomatic relations in 1957, Germany established its main gateway for promoting Arab business cooperation in Cairo. The Egyptian-German bilateral relation has only continued to flourish since then.
Few modern bilateral business relationships predate official diplomatic exchanges. But the Egyptian-German relationship is unique. Established in 1951, the Cairo-based German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce (AHK) was launched – six years before Germany sent its first ambassador to Egypt. Today the AHK is the largest organization promoting business cooperation between Germany and the Arab world and a symbol of the pivotal role the German-Egyptian partnership plays.
Egypt is today amid an economic rebound, and iconic German companies are returning. An infrastructure-spending spree has fueled discussions of an improving business hub for surrounding markets. “Given the current upgrades of the road, railway and port infrastructure, Egypt is about to brand itself as the main Gateway to Africa,” says Jan Noether, CEO of the German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce.
Recent high-level visits offer further indications that German is responding positively to Egypt’s resurgence. In early February 2019, President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi met with 45 CEOs of major German companies during the Munich Security Conference. During the meeting, President al-Sisi extended his support for the formation of more joint ventures, especially in the automotive industry, including electric vehicles and spare parts manufacturing. This was quickly followed by a visit from Chancellor Angela Merkel to Sharm el-Sheikh for the first European Union-League of Arab States Summit.
Already new deals are on the table. Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, during his June 2019 visit to Berlin, met with Siemens to discuss boosting cooperation. This could include exciting new solar power and natural gas developments.
Such heightened cooperation has fed optimism. When the AHK surveyed a group of its members recently, 73% said they “expect better times” to follow, and 95% identified increased stability. “It is safe to say that the rebound of the Egyptian economy is impressive, and that the future of Egypt has begun,” Noether confirmed.
Tourism is a cornerstone of the German-Egyptian relationship, with German tourists making up the lion’s share of visitors to Egypt in 2018. According to the World Tourism Organization, 1.7 million Germans visited Egypt in 2018, compared to about 1 million the year before, overtaking Russia as the largest source of travelers for the first time.
Destinations along the Red Sea, in particular Hurghada, and city trips, especially to Cairo and Alexandria, are traditionally in high demand among German travelers, according to German travel provider Berge & Meer.
When Mercedes-Benz announced its return to Egypt in January 2019, it added fuel to an accelerating domestic electric car race. The German automotive giant was “very keen,” Egyptian officials reported, to begin assembling electric vehicles in Egypt.
In Egypt, electric cars are already considered a fact of modern life. Now more than ever, there is work to lay the foundation for an emerging electric car market, including essential infrastructure such as charging stations. Egyptian officials are also eager to promote electric cars, as well as equip cities with the necessary infrastructure.
These efforts have already begun to unfold. In February 2018, Egypt opened its first electric vehicle charging station at a gas station on the Cairo-Suez highway. BMW and Volkswagen have since begun exporting electric cars to Egypt.
The Cairo-based German-Arab Chamber of Industry and Commerce (GACIC) is established
Official diplomatic relations between Federal Republic of Germany
The Egyptian-German cultural agreement, the major framework which organizes Egyptian-German cultural relations, is signed
Following the re-election of President al-Sisi, the German Government pledges around 129 million euros in funding for new sustainable development measures
President al-Sisi attends the Munich Security Conference and meets with Federal Chancellor Merkel on the sidelines
Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel visits Sharm el-Sheikh to attend the first ever European Union-League of Arab States Summit.