As Egypt and the United States mark the 100th anniversary of their official relationship this year, Steve Lutes, executive director of the US-Egypt Business Council (USEBC), visited Cairo last week as part of countdown to the UN Climate Change Conference COP27 that Egypt will host in Sharm el-Sheikh in November.
USEBC is the premier advocacy organization representing major US companies doing business in Egypt. It was created in 1979 by US President Jimmy Carter, then by Egyptian President Anwar Al-Sadat.
Lutes’ visit last week focused on supporting Egypt ahead of COP27 and promoting the vital role the private sector must play at the conference.
Al-Ahram Weekly: How does the American Chamber of Commerce view Egypt’s hosting of COP27 scheduled for November?
Steve Lutes: We are encouraged that Egypt will host COP27. We have a long history of working in partnership with Egyptian business leaders and governments to try to deepen and broaden trade and investment ties. Egypt’s hosting of COP27 gives us an opportunity to collaborate again and bring together experts, innovators, investors and private sector leaders with government decision makers to try to get things done.
We have an opportunity to come together through COP27 and make an impact in this landmark year that future generations will remember when they look back on our bilateral relationship.
We are here in Cairo from the American Chamber of Commerce in Washington, and it should be noted that our first trip in 2022 internationally anywhere in the world is to Egypt, which shows the priority we place on the American relationship -Egyptian and the importance of the private sector as a privileged partner in the work leading up to COP27 in November
AW: What are the results of the visit?
SL: While we were there, the US Chamber, in partnership with our friends at AmCham Egypt, hosted a Business Leaders Roundtable with the US President’s Special Climate Envoy John Kerry and a second expanded meeting for Business with his Senior Advisor, Ambassador David Thorne.
We had participating companies from across the economy. These companies are bound by their belief that the private sector must be part of the climate solution.
We had several other meetings with the Minister for International Cooperation as well as with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Petroleum and with the Secretary General of the Eastern Mediterranean Gas Forum. Of course, we also met many business leaders.
In every meeting with government, I would say that the idea of the private sector being a partner in helping to find solutions and progress has been fully embraced, which is certainly encouraging.
AW: What role will the American Chamber of Commerce play in helping Egypt prepare for COP27?
SL: What we heard from Egyptian and US officials is that COP27 will focus on implementation. What we do know is that it is the private sector that will develop new technologies, operationalize solutions and fund projects to reduce emissions, while expanding access to cleaner energy and new innovations. . The business community is therefore an essential element in this enterprise.
At the US Chamber, we are organizing our plans for what we will be looking to do in the coming months on the road to COP27 and at the conference itself. Central to this effort will be ensuring that there is a strong partnership between the private sector and government, particularly the host government of Egypt.
In partnership with AmCham Egypt and the US Embassy in Cairo, we will organize a GreenTech business delegation that will travel to Cairo to meet with Egyptian officials and business leaders to understand Egypt’s priority areas and sectors with COP27 and any specific projects and incentives in Egypt associated with these priorities.
Over the next few months, we will also be looking to showcase initiatives and projects already carried out by companies in Egypt in areas such as sustainability, as well as plans for future business. We need to make our friends in government aware of these important efforts as they look for ideas to emulate and expand in other markets.
You can count on the presence of the American Chamber at COP27 and the presence of a diverse group of companies
AW: How can the private sector help meet the challenges of climate change?
SL: This is an important question, and I think we need to realize that most, if not all, sectors of the economy have an important role to play and room for improvement.
What will be key to spurring investment and inclusive economic development will be a sustained government focus on developing new policies and incentives and reforming existing regulations that improve the business environment. An essential ingredient of this process is to ensure that the private sector is consulted and partnered in the policy-making process.
When it comes to policies and regulations, businesses like certainty and consultation and having the opportunity to engage in the process and share their views, best practices and advice. This can be useful for all stakeholders, and helping to facilitate this is a role the US Chamber and AmCham Egypt are happy to play.
A version of this article appeared in the March 3, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.