The Egyptian economy is facing many challenges as a result of bold economic reforms undertaken by the Egyptian government over the past few months, Mohamed Farid Salah, the chairperson of the Egyptian Stock Exchange (EGX), said during the Euromoney Conference in Cairo on Monday.
Salah said that the past few months have been exhausting for the economy but that there are many positive indicators and that stock prices are increasing as foreign investments return with the reforms taking place in parallel. He noted that the correct path to walk at the moment is to focus on fixed-income investments.
When asked about EGX’s priorities in 2018, Salah said that it is important to view the EGX as a whole value rather than merely a platform provided to investors to sell and buy through it. “We are working to offer new instruments and trade commodities to be traded in the market,” he said.
Salah discussed the need for change in trade mechanisms over the upcoming period. “In fact, trade mechanisms were the first thing discussed when I was appointed as the EGX chairperson. When there is even a 5% change in the prices of stocks, trading is halted for about 30 minutes, a policy followed in many countries, and has given positive results so far,” he said. He also noted that he seeks to apply the Short Selling Law, which has not been implemented since 2005. The law would benefit traders greatly, according to Salah.
In terms of the number of companies listed in the EGX, Salah said it is irrelevant, and “what counts is their size and the volume of their businesses.”
“We believe that the EGX is the proper way to attract new foreign investments or increasing trade volume. We want investors to benefit from the EGX, not get rid of stocks. But we believe numbers are unimportant when we have the goal to fund companies seeking to lead, and we support project owners and entrepreneurs with their projects of different sizes to help them grow into large companies, and this is the goal of any stock exchange,” he explained.
In terms of financial inclusion, Salah said it is crucial and more awareness must be raised about the services of the financial system. “More efforts should be made to introduce to everyone the saving tools available to eventually help them achieve their financial goals, all of which result in achieving financial inclusion whether in the banking sector or in any other kinds of financial services,” he said.
As for investments, Salah said that he encourages them greatly, whether long term or short term—or even hot money: investments that can be easily withdrawn from the market.
In conclusion of his session in the Euromoney conference, Salah said the target growth rate of 5.5-6% must be achieved through facing challenges from the roots instead of just carrying out reforms on the surface, a role the government is keen on playing.