German firms see N Africa political change positive – expert

28 January 2011 19:07  [Source: ICIS news]

TORONTO (ICIS)--Germany’s industrial firms are viewing the regime change in Tunisia and possible changes in Egpyt and elsewhere in North Africa as positive and will continue to make long-term investments in that region, the German chamber of commerce said on Friday.

Felix Neugart, a North Africa/Middle East expert at Berlin-based DIHK, said the changes promised firms the prospect of “long-term stability and a reliable legal framework” in a region that was of growing importance to Germany’s energy, textile, car, chemicals and other sectors.

While the current uncertainty prompted some firms to hold back on investments, Neugart said he did not expect them to reduce their engagement in the region over the long run.

According to an analysis by German business daily Handelsblatt, 280 German firms are doing business in Tunisia, either through subsidiaries or joint ventures.

In Egypt, 79 German firms have their own subsidiaries. They are focused on the automotive, petrochemicals, textiles, logistics, machinery, engineering services and tourism industries, the paper said.

Meanwhile, Egypt on Friday saw renewed demonstrations against the government of President Hosni Mubarak.

In the chemical industry, Canada’s Methanex is expected to start shipping methanol from its new 1.3m tonne/year EMethanex joint venture plant in Damietta, Egypt, before the end of the first quarter.

A spokesman for the Vancouver-based company was not immediately available to respond to a request seeking Methanex’s assessment of the situation in Egypt.

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By: Stefan Baumgarten
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