BERLIN (Reuters) - Egypt needs to strengthen its rule of law and allow greater religious freedom if it wants to attract more foreign investment, its top trading partner Germany said on Monday.
Egypt’s improved security after years of turmoil and an Islamist militancy has helped revive German tourism, German Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries told a joint news conference with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in Berlin.
“Security alone does not promote a vibrant and flourishing society,” Zypries said.
“We believe that stability and growth must be connected with an open society, with open dialogue, with the rule of law and religious pluralism.”
Political instability and widespread violence in the years after the toppling of former president Hosni Mubarak in 2011 left Egypt’s economy in tatters.
Under President Sisi, the former head of Egypt’s military, the economy has slowly recovered and security has improved, but the country is still fighting an Islamist insurgency that has previously targeted major tourist sites, hurting a vital sector.
Sisi did not respond to her comments directly but said Egypt was keen to encourage investment from Germany’s automotive parts, engineering and renewable energy sectors.
They were speaking before the fourth annual meeting of the German-Egyptian Joint Economic Commission.
Zypries said Germany was keen to work with Egypt on areas such as renewable energy and energy efficiency, and had offered export and investment guarantees to pave the way for more business deals.
Annual trade between the two countries is worth 5.5 billion euros and the exports are likely to grow given Europe’s positive economic outlook, Zypries said.
The head of the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry told the commission that German exports to Egypt were up 50 percent in the first quarter from a year ago.
Egyptian exports to Germany were up 32 percent, Eric Schweitzer said.
Reporting by Andrea Shalal; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky