Mohammed Rachid, Egypt’s minister for trade, says little has been achieved since last year’s Arab Economic and Social Development Summit.

“We are not interested in making new decisions this year, instead we will focus on implementing what was decided last year in Kuwait,” he says. He blames a lack of cooperation and slow decision making for the lack of achievement.

In an interview with MEED the minister called for more economic integration between the Arab states and better engagement between the public and private sector. “The biggest challenge for the region is opening up sectors for investment,” he adds. Public-private partnerships (PPPs) have been growing in the region, particularly in Egypt with more planned for the coming year within the oil and gas sectors and infrastructure.

Egyptian exports have increased by 15 per cent overall with a 21 per cent for non-oil exports in the past year. “The recession affected Egypt’s exports in 2009 with a 5 per cent decrease, but 2010 has been a year for recovery,” says Rachid.

The government plans to have doubled exports by 2014, which requires a 20 per cent growth rate per year. Rachid says the current rate of growth indicates that expectations can be met.

Egypt’s main exports include crude oil and petroleum, cotton, textiles, aluminium products, chemicals and farm produce.