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tv   Talk to Al Jazeera  Al Jazeera  March 13, 2015 10:30am-11:01am EDT

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cairo. demonstrators carry placards saying egypt is not for sale. they call on the army to release political detainees, and state out of their life. fighters have been attacking [ inaudible ] in the run upto the summit. on sunday a bomb went off at a barclay's bank in alexandria. an anti government group claimed responsibility. let's get some analysis on this now. joining us is a processor in modern and contemporary history at the middle east university. welcome once again. what is at take here? >> two main points. the first one is he reminded all
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of the world that this conference conference being held because of king abdullah. who called for this last year. and again, he wants to remind the role of saudi arabia. that was the first message that he wanted to send. the second point he was telling the world about what the egyptian government has prepared for them. two main packages. the first one he wants more projects on the infrastructure. he wants more -- you know jobs for those millions of people who are ready to work. these are the two messages he was trying to send.
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this means basically nearly 30 to $40 billion to support this package. >> but what is personally at stake for al-sisi. >> he wants to show the world that he has, you know, support from -- you know, at least 90 governments. it is -- it is i think a legitimacy matter. let's not forget that he is running the country himself. there is no parliament. the only institution function is the military so basically he wants to say this is a state of egypt still functioning and with your help they can go and build egypt. >> but getting them to attend the conference is one thing. getting them to invest is another entirely. people are not just going to give him money. they are going to want something
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in return. >> absolutely. in 2002 there was a conference like this under mubarak, and basically those who attended that conference they promised egypt $15 billion. no dollar has been paid to egypt since. now this is the same sen sen -- scenario. and keep in mind last four years egypt received nearly 30 -- or 25 billion from [ inaudible ] state only and just -- you know, as -- as support, and nothing has happened in the economy. so basically it is -- promising is something as you mentioned. but who will pay at the end of the day? who will go and invest in egypt in the question of legitimacy, the question of how much you feel secure to put your money and your people on the ground in egypt, it's also a matter of who is running the country? who holds accountable if i put
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my money, what is going to happen? if you remember his speech he was trying to say that, you know, the new packages of the law and regulations will allow egyptian government to pay back the invested money. he wants to send the message that you will be okay come and invest. so the government feels the need to send that message. and i think this will influence any investment decision to come and do business in egypt. >> good to talk to you. we'll leave it there for the moment. the stakes are high as you were hearing there for president al-sisi. the future of his leadership depends in part on whether he can secure proper investment for his people. our correspondent explains why
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the economic conference is about more than just money. >> reporter: this is the kind of image egypt wants to promote, a hardworking and corruption free country open for business. but egypt's economy is in trouble. even with all shipments and cash grants from gulf states it needs around $60 billion of foreign money, which it is hoping to raise at the economic investment conference at the coastal resort. >> we are welcoming investors. >> reporter: the president has promised to sort out the economy. he has cut energy subsidisies and cut taxes. but comments he made earlier this week will do little to convince people he is sympathic to ordinary egyptians. >> translator: if even we starve
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ourselves, we rebuild our nation. and yes, we rebuild our nation. >> reporter: many people alreadying don't have enough to eat. around one in four people live on less than $2 a day. slums have grown and so has unemployment. tourism used to account for around a fifth of egypt's economy. there are some signs visitors are returning, but the numbers aring in like before the 2011 revolution. and this won't help attract tourists or investors. there have been a string of bomb attacks. this latest one killed two and injured 30 people. >> when you see some of these ied's have targeted foreign businesses businesses it's definitely a
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concern. >> reporter: and then there's the crackdown on descent. thousands of activists and political opponents have been arrested and prosecuted since the removal president morsi in 2013. back to the economic conference, we are just going to dip into this for a few moments to get a sense of what the amir of kuwait who is speaking right now is saying. let's listen in. >> translator: working on boosting investment and creating proper chances to attract capital, necessitates a lot of efforts through proper legislations that will keep the right and proper environment for investment, and will encourage investors to have projects in egypt and our brothers in egypt
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have understood this point and they are trying to create the proper chances for proper investments, and to create the proper environment that will attract investors and capitals to work and to develop in an environment suitable place for investment in egypt and the report -- the economic reports that we all follow including the report of the egyptian ministry for planning indicates that the development rates have grown and this is an indication that the investment atmosphere is okay and that our brothers in egypt are exerting a lot of efforts in
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this regard and we hope this will continue in order to achieve the balance, sustainable development and investment in egypt. >> okay. that's just a sense of what the amir was saying there. the amir of kuwait. angus blair who you saw just a few minutes ago joins us again live vie ja spiep. alagency see said he wants to see 6% growth in egypt. unemployment down 10%. china has just cut its growth rate to 7% and many people around the world think that's still pretty amazing even though that's a cut. is president sisi being realistic here?
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>> well you have a reference point historically. if you look at the last major economic crisis in egypt, within two years of the end of that crisis after a froerm program was put in place and taxes cut, the economy was growing at 6% despite the fact that not much had been done to reform the country at that stage. but between 2004 -- between 2004 and 2010 around $50 billion of foreign investment went into egypt. now the one positive factor about egypt unlike china and more developed countries is that there is very little household and private sector debt. so if you put the right policies in place, it responds. now if you actually look at what has happened in the last year coca-cola has put in around half a billion dollars in investment. pepsi and mars as well.
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bp announced that they signed documents to invest around $12 billion. kelloggs have bid for a manufacturing company in egypt of another $300 million. so there's a response here in egypt which is far stronger than other countries because of that cash-rich, low-debt environment. but of course it mean there's much more to be done. >> so 6% growth is actually quite a conservative estimate if president sisi gets the legislation right, creates the environment in egypt in which businesses can succeed? >> sure. it's tough in any country to grow above more than 2%. but in some countries it's easier. and in the case of egypt we're not growing roughly between 4 and 5% on an annualized basis last year. but they have cut the tax again,
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which we argued for over the last few years since it was raised in 2011 and 2014. they changed the investment law and tweaked it to make it better, they used a number of other laws but i find if you look at what was done it is actually much more creative than even the prime ministers of -- prime minister from 2004, it's a much more adventurous and creative program, and there are a number of projects being announced at the conference but the fact is it's to see this government is much more serious than before. and what investors look back -- i just came back from a visit in london and met with investors, what we look for is stability, and then predictability of policy. and what this government is saying, you' -- you're going to
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have predictability of policies. >> how much investment is egypt going to need? >> well i mean -- that is a god question to ask. because egypt needs as you pointed out what it needs from the point of view of fiscal help which i think will still come from the gulf and investment, but that's also domestic investment in addition to foreign investment and there has been a change of sentiment over the last year. so you are going to have to grow from 5% -- he said 6%. but as any minister has said you have to get up to 7% which you have to make a gel of because you have to get people back to work as quickly as possible. and he wants to cut inflation. it can be done if you look at the totality of foreign direct investment, and you have dubai
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spending several billion themselves. so you add that in to trying to change sentiment and domestic companies which are investing themselves. look at the study done by a number of the investment banks in egypt, sentiment is beginning to improve. it's not without the realm of possibility economic growth could be 7% by the end of next year, as long as the implementation of the reform program is put in place by a government that's more willing and institutions within government that are more willing to say yes than no which they have done historically. >> angus many thanks indeed. well let's just remind you of what this is all about here on al jazeera at the moment. [ applause ] >> an economic conference has
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just got underway in egypt effectively within the hour we saw egypt's president al-sisi setting out his store and declaring egypt open for business. he has attracted a large number of very high profile heads of state and heads of important financial institutions to the conference. the country is appealing for people to invest in the country. let's bring in al jazeera's senior political analyst in the studio with us now. we got a bit bogged down in the technical stuff, but what does this mean for normal egyptians. in alexandria there have been violent protests against this conference. >> yes. because we have been there, done that, seen it watched it and
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seen what happened afterwards. president al-sisi has to do some basic things which people like your guest and others will call reforms. this means increasing the tax on the rich and lifting the subsidies on the poor. and that's what we have done already. things are not going to get better any time soon but you need to make sure you are putting these regulations against the poor for the rich. another $35 billion or so of investments. now in the long term if this really leads to serious growth not debt but serious growth eventually people could benefit. however, the problem with your earlier guest -- and i usually
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don't comment on other guests but that was a very selective reading of the economy of egypt. that growth is hardly a drop in the bucket on what egypt needs. >> i'm going to come back to you in a moment. but we have the crown prince of saudi arabia speaking right now. he's listen in. [ applause ] >> translator: -- who due to some commitments was not able to attend today, but he wishes all the best to the conference. i would like to thank the egyptian president and the egyptian government for their hospitality. i would like to thank everyone
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who played a role in organizing this conference. i would like to express my gratitude to the governments and people who attended this meeting, and i would like to thank the positive participation of the private sector to achieve all of the goals. ladies and gentlemen, the kingdom of saudi arabia through the early innerve by the late king for this conference and to support the egyptian people and to organize with the united arab emirates and other countries means that the kingdom of saudi arabia is quite keen to boost their relation with egypt and bring back stability to egypt and boost their support of the egyptian people away from
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anything that will hit these kind of relations. through the history, our relations were fantastic, and we quickly welcomed any problems because of the relationships between both countries on all levels and the economic relations between the countries will be boosted because the kingdom of saudi arabia is the first investor in egypt. [ applause ] >> translator: the expansion of our comprehensive economic relations, and the kingdom being the first biggest investor in egypt and also this will bring the doubtedly that there are so
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big atmosphere for developing these relations because the economy in both countries have the ability and the private sector is also playing a great role in such a conference. ladies and gentlemen, the region is witnessing so many political changes and this will creates changes, and we need to know that terrorism is not at all related to islam and islam is not at all a religion of terrorism. the international community.
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the kingdom of saudi arabia is keen to fight terrorism and cooperate with the communities to combat terrorism. the kingdom condemns all acts of terrorism in egypt. [ applause ] >> we'll talk about what he had to say in just a few moments. before we talk about what the crown prince was saying about security and terrorism, i want to talk about what this conference conference means for president sisi. look at who he has got there. what does this say about his legitimacy. >> he has been trying to gain legitimacy since the coup
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d'etat but this shows his support. it certainly gives a push to the egyptian regime. thanks to saudi arabia and the united arab emirates that have helped nudge this thing forward, and certainly they were able to make this come through and he thanked them precisely for that. so at least on the short-term it will give him the legitimacy with secretary kerry sitting there, and other various heads of state including the head of the imf. >> interesting when we began the conference he started by welcoming the leaders and thanking the leaders of several
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countries. no qatar there. >> no qatar there. although from the reports i have read here. there are qatar investors there at the conference. as you know the relations between qatar and egypt are tense. they have at one point pulled back from the drin -- brink if you will. but they are not at that level yet. >> what do you make of what the crown prince was saying there? the emphasis very much on security and terrorism within egypt. >> this is the thing we haven't spoken of yet, which is the political economy. it's one thing to talk about the economy and another to talk about the politics. but i'm talking about the fact that egypt is rated in -- you
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know competitive wise as the 143 country out of 200 countries or so around the world in terrorism. so there's a certain instability in egypt that is not conducive to investment. the problem today is there has been a gap as you know between certain gulf countries and egypt. president sisi insists that the muslim brotherhood are terrorists increasing number of people in the gulf recognize that most of them are not terrorists with the exception of [ inaudible ]. >> many thanks indeed for the moment. our senior political analyst, we'll keep across that conference as i said to you earlier, john kerry the u.s. secretary of state due to speak within the next ten or 15 minutes. we will take that speech live in al jazeera.
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in me the meantime let's turn to what else is making news in the world right now. talks to end the political stalemate between libya's rival governments have been delayed yet again. the government from tobruk isn't show up in morocco. the iraqi government is now confident that victory in tikrit is just days away. the army have been advancing on several fronts. on wednesday government troops took territory to the west of tikrit. the fighting focuses on the presidential palace. and ten soldiers have been
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killed in the north of iraq. a fourther 19 people were killed in a separate isil attack in the wesz. the attacks are said to have happened shortly after midnight on friday. nigeria's government has admitted it is getting help from what it calls foreign contractors in its fight against boko haram. it said the mercenaries were only helping in training and logistics. hundreds of mercenaries from south africa and other countries are believed to be in the country. until recently the armed group was in control of an area the size of belgium. this is the region where it has been most active. but now the military says it is in control in many areas. the military says that boko haram is now concerned with
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these regions and that battles are on going. meanwhile isil has accepted a pledge of allegiance from boko haram fighters in nigeria. it's unclear whether this will make any practical differences. >> reporter: in this new audio recording that was put up on the internet it is believed by supporters of isil a spokesperson for the group welcomes boko haram's allegiance. and in the audio recording he said we announce the good news of the expansion of the caliphate to west africa because the caliphate has accepted the allegiance of our brothers. so far there has been no official reaction from the nigerian government to this statement by isil. last week when boko haram announced and pledged allegiance to isil many viewed it as the last kick of a dying horse. the president here always said that the group is facing distinction and they are gaining
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ground against the group. they have also questioned the relationship between isil and boko haram because there's no evidence of any capacity to collaborate or launch joint operations anywhere in the region, and therefore, they see this as just propaganda. meanwhile efforts to curve the groups activities go on. they are fighting in the northeast. and in the last 72 hours, president goodluck jonathan says he hopes to end the group's existence in the next two to three weeks. saudi arabia's foreign minister the crown prince we saw pledged $4 billion in economic aid to egypt. let's listen in once again. >> translator: my brothers, and
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i hope this conference will be a success in achieving the goals for the egyptian economy, for the egyptian future. this conference my brothers is remaining us of the initiative of the late king abdullah of saudi arabia may he so rest in peace. who was the first to call for such a conference who was the first to support such a conference. ladies and gentlemen, we are always proud in the emirates of our historic relation with egypt and with the egyptian people. egypt is our second nation as the emirates is a second nation
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for the egyptians. [ applause ] >> translator: we have all the right and all of the duties since our childhood, we used to believe that egypt is that nation for peace, the heart of the arab -- the heart and the police of the best soldiers with egypt we will create history together. [ applause ] >> translator: history has taught us that when egypt is strong, is capable and able to keep the nation vital, to lead the nation and go and read about how many aggressors and in