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US angry over Egyptian army’s control over local business sectors, say sources

Image of Egyptian soldiers [Mohammed Bendari/Apaimages]
Egyptian soldiers [Mohammed Bendari/Apaimages]

The United States (US) is angry over the Egyptian army’s interference into the local business activity across various sectors, diplomatic sources reported yesterday.

The sources told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that some members of the US’ Republican and Democratic parties had recently met at the American Chamber of Commerce in Egypt, where they described the Egyptian military’s involvement in the country’s economic and commercial activity, and control over its major sectors as a “clear threat for foreign investors.”

“The defence ministry’s control over Egypt’s mega projects had incurred American and Western investors billions of US dollars in losses,” the sources quoted the US officials as saying.

The US state department recently said in its annual report that the role of the Egyptian military in the political and economic agenda should be “revisited by President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi.”

In a similar context, a number American Democratic congressional deputies were recently reported to have been tasked with reviewing the structure of the US government’s annual aid to the Egyptian regime.

READ: Proposed constitutional changes in Egypt criticised

Quoting local and foreign investors, the London-based agency pointed out that the Egyptian Armed forces were granted “distinguished tax concessions as well as other commercial and social privileges.”

Egypt military’s Companies, hotels and military social clubs are known for being exempted from state newly-imposed Value Added Taxes (VAT), real estate taxes and import customs. In September 2017, the International Monitory Fund (IMF) warned that Egypt private sector’s development and job creation “may be hampered by the defence ministry’s economic involvement.”

In March 2016, the UK’s Middle East Eye independent agency said in a report that Egypt’s military was controlling 50-60 per cent of the country’s economy.

Anti-government Egyptian politicians and activists have repeatedly criticised the fact that the army’s budget is separated from the state budget.

READ: Egypt signs $2bn deal for 20 Russian fighter jets

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