Egypt – Amendment to the Investment Law
With the aim of creating an attractive climate for investment and streamline investment procedures, the Egyptian government introduced important amendments to the Investment Law No. 72 of 2017 (“Investment Law”) by virtue of Amendment Law No. 160 of 2023 issued on 25 July 2023 (“Amendment Law”).
Expanding the Scope of Application of the General Incentives
The Amendment Law expanded the scope of eligible projects which can benefit from the General Incentives as following:
- These incentives have become available for all investment projects, regardless of their date of establishment (i.e., whether the project was already established before the application date of Investment Law or thereafter).
- All projects will benefit from the General Incentives regardless of the legal investment system they are subject to (i.e., this includes projects established according to Investment Law No. 230 of 1989, Investment Guarantees and Incentives Law No. 8 of 1997 or previous Foreign and Arab Investment Law No.43 of 1974).
The ‘General Incentives’ are defined under the Investment Law to include, among others:
- Exemption from stamp duty tax and notary public fees on registration of the constitutional documents of the investment company, its loan agreements and pledge contracts for a period of 5 years from the date of registering the company.
- Exemption from the registration fees of the project land.
- Unified reduced flat customs duty rate of 2% on all machines and equipment imported for establishing the investment project.
Extending the Period required for a Project to Benefit from the Special Incentives
The Amendment Law expended the period during which the investment project is required be established in order to benefit from the “Special Incentives” for three years to be until October 2026, instead of October 2023.
The Special Incentives includes – under Article 11 of the Investment Law – a tax reduction from the net taxable profits equivalent to 50% of the investment cost of setting up a project in Geographical Zone A (under-developed areas in Egypt). The incentive will be calculated based on the investment cost of the project (the incentive shall not exceed 80% of the paid-up capital of the project until the start of its operation and the deduction shall not continue for more than (7) years from the operation date of the Project).
Also, a tax reduction from the net taxable profit of 30% of the investment cost of a project that is set-up in Zone B (all geographical locations in Egypt other than Zone A) and is working in one of the following sectors:
- Labor-intensive projects (500+ workers).
- Renewable energy projects.
- Strategic projects as specified by the Supreme Investment Council.
- Tourism projects as specified by the Supreme Investment Council.
- Electricity projects specified by the Supreme Investment Council.
- Projects exporting their products outside Egypt.
- Vehicle/car and related industry projects.
- Wood, furniture, printing, packaging and chemical industries.
- Antibiotic, cancer treatment and cosmetics.
- Food and agricultural products as well as agricultural waste projects.
- Engineering, mineral, textile and leather projects.
New Additional Incentives
In addition to the already existing “Additional Incentives”, the Amendment Law decided new additional incentives including the following:
- Exemption from the fees of using project’s allocated land for a maximum of 10 years from the operation date (after presenting the matter to the Minister).
- Exemption from the costs of the infrastructure, and the public utilities of up to 50% of such cost (by virtue of a decision from the Prime Minister).
- Government to bear a percentage not exceeding (50%) of the project’s consumption of the public utilities for a period not exceeding ten (10) years.
New Cash Incentive
The Amendment Law states that projects that are eligible to benefit from the Special Incentives (as determined under Article 11 of the Investment Law) and its expansions can be granted a cash incentive of not less than (35%) and not exceeding (55%) of the paid tax.
To benefit from such cash incentive, the project (or its expansion) shall rely on a foreign currency funding from outside Egypt – at least 50% – in its financing and to commence its operation within 6 years. The Ministry of Finance is committed to disbursing the incentive to the relevant project within (45) days from the deadline of submitting the tax return and the incentive will not be considered taxable income.
Re-shaping the Framework of the Golden License
The Amendment Law kept the same provisions – under the Investment Law – relating to granting a single/golden license to certain strategic projects.
In addition, the Amendment Law states that strategic and national projects as well as PPP projects in infrastructure, renewable energy, transportation, roads or ports can be established and operated by virtue of a single license (“Golden License”) to be issued by virtue of a decision from the Prime Minister.
Such license will be comprehensive; covering the approvals for the establishment, operation, and management of the project, including the building licenses and allocation of lands required for the project.
The License may also provide for the application of one or more of the incentives set forth under the Investment Law (whether the General Incentives, Special Incentives or Additional Incentives).
To benefit from this single approval/golden license, the project must satisfy the following conditions:
- The project company must take the form of an Egyptian joint stock company or a limited liability company that is established after the date of entry into force of the Investment Law (i.e., after 2017).
- Submission of evidence regarding the financial cash-flow/ability to implement the project.
- Submission of an initial feasibility study for the project prepared by one of the reputable licensed national or international expert firms.
The License will be valid and effective on its own without a need for any further procedures.
The Amendment Law further states that the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI) will be responsible for monitoring projects’ compliance (i.e., establishment, operation and management requirements and conditions) as determined under relevant laws and the issued licenses. Violating projects will receive a warning from GAFI highlighting the committed violations and granting a grace period for the project to rectify the situation.
If the project failed to remove the violation or correct it, GAFI may decide to suspend the project or its operation or to cease one or more of the granted incentives depending on the gravity of the violation and for a period of one year.
If the violation continued, the Golden License might be cancelled by virtue of a decision from the Prime Minister.
For more information about the Investment Law and how to benefit from the basket of incentives thereunder, please feel free to contact Dr. Eman Riad.
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