As with many auto-industry figures, Raafat Masrouga is aware of the benefits to be gained from the second Egypt Automotive Summit, particularly the opportunity it presents for discussing issues affecting the industry – and providing possible solutions.
However, the honorary chairman of the Automotive Marketing Information Council (AMIC) is also critical of the strategy for the sector that has been presented to the government for consideration, describing it as “the weakest and least credible of strategies”.
Speaking by phone to Daily News Egypt, Masrouga said the strategy is simply an attempt to find a way around the partnership that Egypt has signed with the EU, while continuing to enforce laws protecting a product that is not able to survive on its own.
“Moreover, the strategy completely contradicts with the interests of the consumer,” he said, “as well as with the supreme economic interests of the state and its future plans.”
This year’s auto summit is the second in what promises to be an important annual event, with government and business figures charting the way ahead for the sector.
“As such, it is a serious step to follow up on the recommendations and suggestions that were discussed during the event the last year,” said Masrouga.
“Officials and people concerned about this vital sector contributed to drafting these recommendations and suggestions, in cooperation with the businessmen investing in the automotive industry, and those who work on developing it and improving its outcomes.”
He added that holding the event two years running was a success in itself – a step towards increasing the efficiency of the first summit’s recommendations.
However, he said the most serious challenge facing the automotive sector is the lack of a strategic vision for developing the sector, stressing that the Egyptian consumer must be treated as the cornerstone of the industry, and given priority in the design of the industry’s future.
He said officials must be pressed to stick to the plans that were thrashed out previously, especially those visions that were unconventional or innovative.
Masrouga, who is the former head of the Engineering Automotive Manufacturing Company, said it is important that all discussions and decision-making processes are conducted transparently, as is expected by those attending the event.
As for the Suez Canal Area Development Project, Masrouga views it as a very important national project, and one that can help develop the local automotive industry.
“The establishment of industrial and commercial zone serves the industry, given that the geography of the project qualifies it to be the centre of the industrial, commercial, and logistic world,” he said.
“Moreover, the operational efficiency of the canal can be maintained at maximum levels throughout the year, because of the nature of the climate, and the moderate weather.”