CAIRO: Singapore shipping firm Pacific International Lines (PIL) on Sunday (Oct 31) opened its first logistics facility in Egypt and the Middle East, amid a push for Singaporean firms to expand and invest overseas, especially in emerging markets like Egypt.
The 20,000 sqm centre in Cairo's Al Tajamouat Industrial Park is part of PIL's plans to diversify its operations from "sea to shore". Its opening coincides with Singapore President Tony Tan Keng Yam’s state visit to Egypt, which also seeks to facilitate business opportunities between the two countries.
PIL’s logistics facility targets Egypt-based businesses and international firms planning to expand across the Middle East. The complex is equipped with Wi-Fi and advanced security and surveillance systems, and also allows clients to monitor operations and manage supply chains in real time.
“This in fact will help foreign investors, when they want to come to Egypt, to decide to come here because we can provide the logistics solutions,” said PIL managing director Teo Siong Seng at the launch.
PIL is set to invest up to US$30 million in Egypt. Mr Teo said the company is also looking at investing in other parts of Africa, including Sudan and Ethiopia.
Minister of State for Trade and Industry Koh Poh Koon, who attended the launch with Egyptian Minister of Investment Dalia Khorshid, said the opening of the centre was a "good sign that Singapore companies are looking opportunities in emerging markets".
He also said this might pave the way for smaller firms to consider expanding overseas.
"Singapore companies who’ve had experience overseas would naturally be good ambassadors for new markets because they can share their experience and actually provide some knowledge and encouragement to other companies that may be considering," Dr Koh said. "It’s always a little bit daunting trying to venture into a new market, but by leveraging on existing players who have market knowledge, I think it can help pave the way for companies in the exploratory stage."
In response to concerns about the impact of Egypt’s current economic climate, including the highest inflation rate in years, Dr Koh said local economic conditions should not deter Singapore firms from expanding overseas. He added that it was important for companies to “build a greater understanding of the markets they’re operating in.”
"No matter what condition a country is going through, trade still flows," Dr Koh said. “People still have a life to lead and obviously in a place like Egypt where the Suez Canal plays an important part in the global trade flow in the maritime sector, companies like PIL have leveraged on the importance of the Suez Canal as a way for them to grow their logistics presence.”