About 60km east of Cairo is a gleaming new 20,000 sq m logistics centre that can store goods from high-tech electronics to food.
It is operated by Singapore company Pacific International Lines (PIL), which has had a presence in shipping in Egypt for almost half a century, and is now diversifying into logistics warehousing.
The US$10 million (S$14 million) centre, about the size of three football fields, has a temperature-controlled facility that can store goods such as vegetable oil and chocolate at temperatures as low as 5 deg C.
It is a model for Singapore companies venturing to Egypt, said Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, who opened the facility yesterday with Egyptian Minister of Investment Dalia Khorshid.
Dr Koh, who is accompanying President Tony Tan Keng Yam on his state visit to Egypt this week, said he was heartened to see Singapore companies exploring opportunities in emerging markets.
"PIL has demonstrated that it is a firm believer in Egypt's growth potential, and a committed partner in working together to make the most of the potential," he said.
"With this positive example, the enhanced investment laws and Egypt's concerted effort to create a more efficient and business- friendly environment, I am confident that more Singapore companies will consider Egypt as a good investment destination," added Dr Koh.
Ms Khorshid thanked PIL for its investment in "challenging times".
"We want to ensure that you have the confidence and commitment of the ministry and the entire government to ease your doing business within the country," she added.
Dr Koh also told reporters that there were opportunities in Egypt despite the current economic outlook. "Trade still flows, and people still have a life to lead," he said.
Egypt, which has a population of 91 million, is currently grappling with a foreign currency crunch that has led to a shortage of commodities, and is seeking a US$12 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund to boost its economy.
"It's important that (companies) do their due diligence, and learn from companies that are already operating here for some time to tap some of these lessons they have learnt over the years," Dr Koh said.
PIL group managing director Teo Siong Seng said the company has been studying Egypt's economic potential "for some time" and believes in its potential for growth.
"We expect to see household consumption in Egypt grow at a robust rate in the next decade. This explains why PIL decided to invest and open a logistics centre to better meet growing demands," he said.
"The market potential grows as more and more international as well as local companies outsource related activities," he said, adding that PIL and its partners plan to invest a further US$20 million in logistics services in Egypt.