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Last Updated: Wednesday, 14 July, 2004, 10:32 GMT 11:32 UK
Economic reformers rise in Egypt
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak
Will President Mubarak give the thumbs-up for reform?
Egypt's appointment of a reform-minded technocrat to the new post of investment minister has been welcomed by the country's business community.

Mahmoud Mohieldin is an economic liberal, one of whose tasks could be to revive stalled privatisation plans.

"Investors see [him] as pro-reform and pro-market. He is seen as young, dynamic and well-educated," Reuters quoted one trader as saying.

"There is a feeling he can do what it takes to attract foreign investment."

Attracting investors

But analysts cautioned against expecting fast progress and said Mr Mohieldin would have substantial hurdles to overcome.

"There is a fear that the government sees investment as an issue of slick advertisement but the real issue is about business fundamentals... about making Egypt an investor-friendly environment," Reuters quoted one Cairo-based Western diplomat as saying.

Analysts said modernisers would also have to fight bureaucracy and vested interests opposed to economic reform.

And ultimate control over policy still rests with President Hosni Mubarak, whose record is one of caution and sluggish moves on economic reform, they say.

Growing influence

Mr Mohieldin is part of a group close to the president's son, Gamal Mubarak.

Another is Rashid Mohamed Rashid, appointed Foreign Trade & Industry Minister, who formerly worked for foods-to-detergents giant Unilever.

Some commentators said the appointments signalled growing influence for the younger Mr Mubarak in the Egyptian government.

Outgoing foreign trade minister Youssef Boutros-Ghali, another reformer and moderniser, has been promoted to finance minister.

Mubarak swears in new government
14 Jul 04  |  Middle East

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