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Monday, 3 December 2018

Trade minister downplays ‘automotive directive,’ says talks are ongoing with unnamed global car manufacturers on Egypt investments

Trade Minister: Please stop asking about the “automotive directive.” Trade and Industry Minister Amr Nassar threw cold water on years spent crafting the “automotive directive” that would have given incentives to local assemblers to move further up the value chain into manufacturing in return for a measure of protection against EU, Moroccan and Turkish imports.

“There’s nothing called the automotive directive in most countries,” Masrawy quoted Nassar as saying. “What we are working on is simply a strategy to promote investment in the sector, just as any ministry would do,” he added. Nassar gave no details of his ministry’s policy for the auto industry beyond suggesting that it would “attract foreign investment” and encourage the development of the market for electric vehicles. Nassar’s comments on the automotive directive came before he attended the opening of a new assembly line by Kia.

Background: The minister’s statement confirms our reporting this summer that the ministry was planning to scrap to the automotive directive in favor of a more limited approach. Local assemblers and international car manufacturers have been pushing for clarity on the ministry’s policy for the industry.

Nassar says all is well with the auto sector: Nassar’s remarks came as the ministry said it was in talks with unnamed global automotive manufacturers to set up car assembly facilities in Egypt. The ministry expects to be able to say more in about two months’ time, it suggested in a statement on Sunday (pdf). Foreign manufacturers have said they have placed on hold new investment in Egypt until the ministry strategy for the sector is clear. Japanese outfits have been particularly vocal on the issue since spring. Japan’s ambassador to Egypt raised the issue as recently as last week.

There are 28 days left before customs on EU-assembled cars fall to 0%.

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