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Sunday, 4 October 2020

Foreign investors will soon be able to apply for five-year renewable residence permits

INVESTMENT WATCH- Foreign investors will soon be able to apply for five-year renewable residence permits under amended regulations from the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI). The permits will be issued using a points-based system that gives weight to “the project’s scope of activities (20%), the amount of paid-in capital (30%), the number of employees (30%), and the location of the project (20%),” according to a backgrounder prepared by law firm Mazghouny & Co.

Who gets priority? Investors in renewable energy, heavy industry, K-12 education, healthcare, oil and desalination, among others.

It’s smart policy — but smarter policy would be to also give points to industries that have high demand for trained, white-collar labor such as software development, financial services, and consultancies that hire primarily Egyptians rather than parachuting in foreigners. We’re a nation of >100 mn people — it’s time to get serious about a service economy that pays living wages and that serves as an engine of long-term growth.

Egypt has already taken steps to outline a path to citizenship for select foreign investors: Legislative amendments approved by the House of Representatives and ratified by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi last year allow foreigners who hold assets in Egypt to apply for citizenship. Under the new rules, foreigners can acquire the citizenship if they purchase state-owned property worth at least USD 500k, invest more than USD 400k in a minimum 40% stake in an investment project, make a non-refundable USD 250k deposit that goes directly to the government, or deposit USD 750k – 1 mn into a zero-interest local account, which can then be refunded after 3-5 years.

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