Intermittent blackouts strike Cairo several hours a day, with no warning for 11 million residents. That’s exactly where FirmGreen Inc. of Newport Beach, California wants to invest.
“For a company like ours, it’s actually a good fit,” Dena Elbayoumy, general counsel for the company, which develops renewable-energy projects, said by telephone from Egypt’s capital. “We hope to improve stability in the country.”
FirmGreen is among nine businesses including Google Inc. (GOOG) and Raytheon Co. (RTN) that will participate tomorrow in the U.S. government’s second trade mission to Egypt since September. The delegation is heavy on providers of basic services such as energy and water. The U.S. is seeking to boost exports to the Arab nation after a 20 percent decline since shortly before the ouster of former leader Hosni Mubarak in February 2011.
“There’s an actual attempt by the U.S. government to encourage American businesses to invest in Egypt,” said Bessma Momani, a Middle East expert and a nonresident senior fellow for the Brookings Institution, a nonprofit research organization in Washington. “They’re really taking companies there on a ‘Team USA’ kind of approach,” to allay investment-climate concerns, she said by telephone.(...)
“This trade mission reiterates the United States’ commitment to deepening our long trade relationship with Egypt and to growing the already strong connections between our respective business communities,” Hyatt said in a statement released when the trade mission was announced April 8.
Last year, U.S. exports to Egypt were valued at $5.5 billion -- less than 0.5 percent of America’s 2012 exports of $1.5 trillion. Egypt, a longstanding ally, is a strategic partner for the U.S. in the Middle East, however. It controls the Suez Canal, a vital shipping route for oil and other goods.