By Hoda Nassef
COMESA means: making a difference in Egypt’s economy…
Eng. Hatem Hussein Mohamed, known simply as Hatem Hussein, was born in Egypt on the 18th of November 1962. He was educated in Cairo and attained his B.Sc. degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Zagazig University. His post-graduate studies were in Production Management and Design where he completed his M.Sc. courses from the same university.
Eng. Hatem Hussein joined the Boy Scouts as a little boy. He was also the youngest Boy Scout (8 years old) to receive honorary acclaim as a leader of his team. Hussein spent most of those days in camps and scout gatherings until he became a scout leader. As an adult, in 1980, and as a member of the Engineers’ Syndicate, he formed a group of boy scouts (sons of the Members of the Engineers’ Syndicate), and was involved in the scout movement in Egypt up until 1993.
Joining the family business
Introducing new central air-conditioning systems into Egypt
Transmar Shipping Co., S.A.E. & IACC
I asked Eng. Hussein what products do we import from East Africa, and he stated plenty, but mainly tea from Kenya, and copper from Zambia. And, I asked him, to his expert knowledge, what is being done to improve bilateral relations between Egypt and Kenya in trade, as well as Egypt with other African countries. He answered that in the past three years, ever since the Transmar Shipping Line was launched in August 1999, Kenya (Mombassa) and then Tanzania (Dar Es-Salaam) were the first African ports on the map. During the last three years, both countries have learnt from the negative and positive aspects. For example, the Egyptian side complained about the ‘delaying tactics’ (in discharging the consignments) whereas the Kenyan side complained about the heavy tax and custom duties imposed on their products every now and then.
Egypt officially Joins COMESA in February 1999
President Hosni Mubarak
Addressing the inaugural session, President Hosni Mubarak emphasized on Egypt's commitment to help the economic bloc achieve integration as a key step towards establishing an African economic unity called for by the 1991 Abuja Treaty. The Egyptian leader also emphasized that to face the globalisation-related challenges, the participating African countries should quickly move onto the next phase by establishing a untied customs regime by the year 2004.
Egyptian Businessmen’s Association (EBA)
“The Transmar Delegation was present at the COMESA 6th Summit in Cairo, which was attended by heads of state, prime ministers and representatives from 20 African countries. In an unofficial capacity, Transmar delegation made a point of attending also the COMESA Forum, which was headed and addressed by Dr. Youssef Botros Ghali, Minister of Trade, and Mr. Mohamed Shafik Gabr, Chairman of the COMESA Business Council.
Egyptian-Tanzanian Future Projects
The problem facing exporters also lies in the fact that if we want to make factories here in Egypt for finished products, heavy custom duties and taxes are enforced for all the parts and machinery imported, in making such factories. He suggested that factory owners should be fully or partially exempted from the tax and custom fees imposed on the imported machinery and parts, which would enable them to set up their factories.
Hussein stated that even foreign goods exported to, or imported from African countries, is becoming a problem, and increasingly more expensive to the African countries, to the point that Egypt is becoming one of the most expensive countries to deal with. He said that this increase in custom duties is tempting African countries, as well as European countries, to import their goods from other Far Eastern and Middle-Eastern countries, rather than from Egypt, consequently resulting in increased products prices in Egypt, in a vicious circle. Another aspect that is becoming an obstacle to smooth commerce in foreign trade is the never-ending bureaucracy, which could also be harmful to foodstuff if delayed in airports.
Hussein is proud to be a member and Marketing Consultant for IACC and Transmar Shipping Company. He said, “We encountered a lot of difficulties during our first year, after the first Transmar vessel was launched three years ago, and set out on its first voyage in August 1999. But, I firmly believe that this multi-purpose cargo liner is helping in bilateral foreign trade between Egypt and African countries, and has contributed positively in the cargo movement, as well as strengthened political and economical ties.”
First, he said he loved to learn anything new, and to study. I remarked that it was a good time, then, to start thinking about a PhD, as he was still young, and this would satisfy his natural yearn for continuous self-amelioration, and he agreed. (So, go for it, Eng. Hussein!)
He loves all types of music, including African, modern, and some old Arabic classics. His favourite colours are dark (red, blue, etc.) – don’t forget, he’s a Scorpio! His hobbies include swimming, and deep sea diving, which he learnt a few years ago. Whenever he can get away with his family, friends, or alone, he simply adores Sharm El-Sheikh.