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Working group proposed to remove Schengen visa obstacles
Published in The Egyptian Gazette on 23 - 06 - 2010

CAIRO - Egyptian business tycoon and law-maker Mohamed Farid Khamis suggested creating a working group between the German Embassy and the 10th of Ramadan Investors Association for more understanding of the requirements for obtaining the Schengen visa.
Khamis' proposal, which was made during a meeting held on Wednesday at the association's headquarters, came in the wake of recent refusals of the applications by Egyptian businessmen.
German Ambassador Michael Bock welcomed the suggestion, saying: “The German Embassy in Cairo offers all the possibilities to help Egyptian business people and ordinary citizens obtain their visas.
“But, the Embassy is committed to follow the legal rules and bureaucratic procedures that do not allow the issuance of the Schengen visa unless all 25 countries agree and that is why the procedures take 14 days,” Bock explained.
The main reason for the refusal of applications is missing or inaccurate information in the required paperwork, he said.
Bock has added that a new option is currently offered to the Schengen visa holders, especially the business people, which is to travel several times on the same visa within a period of one or two years.
“Germany, which is Egypt's biggest business partner, is the hub to all the European Union countries. So travelling to Germany should be the No. 1 priority to enhance the German investments here,” said Khamis, the owner of Oriental Weavers, the biggest manufacturer of carpets and primary exporter to the US, Turkey, China, Germany and the UK.
“For businessmen who obtain the Schengen visa, the ability to travel between the 25 European countries will be available; of course the smoother the travel procedures are to Germany, the better the business climate will be,” Khamis added.
“Now, it's the role of the Egyptian entrepreneurs to broaden their businesses and market the incentives they offer to attract more German investment,” the ambassador said, referring to his optimism regarding the visit of the Minister of Trade and Industry Rashid Mohamed Rashid to Europe and the new direction towards more investment in renewable energy in Egypt, such as setting up wind farms.
The ambassador has also said that investment in Egypt is beginning to diversify, not only in the oil and petrochemical industries but also in other fields such as agriculture, education and renewable energy.
Moreover, Germany has become one of Egypt's primary trade partners and is the second biggest importer from Egypt, after the rise of German labour salaries, which encouraged Germany to manufacture in the Egyptian market for export to the European market.
“In most European supermarkets, Egyptian agricultural products are available,” said the ambassador during the meeting.
Due to his success in the weaving industry, Khamis has said that in the Oriental Weavers factories, most of the machines are imported from Germany with the state-of-the-art technology and 39 per cent of exports are for the European markets.
In the meantime, Khamis advises entrepreneurs, who want to purchase European machines, to hurry and exploit the devaluation of the euro to buy at a lower price, as these machines already contain other parts that are now exported by Europe from Japan with lower costs, due to the global drop in currencies.
Total exchange of trade between Egypt and Germany is estimated to be 3.5 billion euro in 2010.

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