Saturday, December 17, 2011

Buy Egyptian?

Not to be confused with the evil import
If the latest gimmick to jump start the dormant Egyptian economy is a sign of things to come, then we are in big trouble. No matter how many bags of kebab-flavored Chipsy (owned by Pepsico) are munched, nor colorful galabaya are purchased (typically with imported, short-staple cotton, since higher quality long-staple Egyptian cotton is used in higher end goods that are exported and produce much more value added), the “Buy Egypt” campaign will do nothing to address the structural deficiencies in the economic system. 

Worse, the campaign is a reflection of the quick-fix, delusional and autarkic thinking that looks to isolate Egypt from the global economy and create artificial markets, when it is precisely the opposite that is needed. Whether it is flawed ideas of disavowing foreign borrowing, fanciful and regressive notions of food self-sufficiency or grand, national schemes to create dead-end jobs, all of this is stifling the country’s potential and delaying badly needed reform.   

Egypt experienced all of this before in the disastrous experimentation with a centralized economy for some sixty years, a period during which Egypt witnessed relative declines in virtually every economic, social, cultural and political indicator. The country cannot afford to do this again. 

Not Egyptian enough

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