The supply chain for Egypt's fresh produce exports : barriers to efficiency and proposed strategies for improvement
Increasing competitive pressures due to globalisation of markets, fuelled by developments in communication and information systems have led Egypt to embark upon ambitious ecomomic structural reform programmes. Although major improvements in the country's monetary and financial position have been achieved, Egypt's trade defecit continues to worsen. The Egyptian government is not pursuing policies that encourage exports such as liberalisation of trade privatisation and encouragement of foreign investments. Despite these efforts progress is limited with respect to the quantities and value of exported fresh produce which Egypt has comparative advantage in producing. The challenge to supply the EU, which is a net importer of fresh produce and Egypt's main agricultural trade partner, with consistent and timely deliveries that satisfy its quality specifications at competitive prices remians strong, despite some export opportunities offered by trade agreements between Egypt and the EU. Supply Chain Management is now considered a key competitive weapon. More and more developing countries like Egypt are beginning to realise the importance of its efficiency and the opportunities it offers in terms of cost savings, improved customer servicves, more efficient use of resources, environmental benefits, competitive advantage ande bigger market share. What it takes to implement in terms of infrastructure, skilled personnel, information technology and procedures need to be pointed out. There has been little research in the field of Supply Chain Management in Egypt to date. Through studying the case of fresh produce moved from Egypt to EU countries, a contribution to a profound analysis of the current practices and problems inherent in the system is made possible. After investigating the problem through interviews and questionnaires and reviewing the relevant literature, a set of barriers have been identified that impede the smooth and co-ordinated flow of goods and information throughout the supply chain. Barrers in air, maritime and land transport as well as procurement and institutional barriers have been identified and their causes are analysied in order to draw a realy picture of the problem situation. due to the complexity and the interdisciplinary nature of the investigated problem a holistic approach was considered to be more appropriate. Reviewing different methodologies, the Soft System Methodology was chosen as it provides a well established tool for analysis of complex management problems. Its application provides a basis for problem situation improvement by designing conceptual models based on root definitions for systems and subsystems of the supply chain under investigation. The research is evaluated in terms of its satisfaction to criteria set in recent literature for competent interpretive field research based on the hermeneutic philosophy that notable match the holistic nature and systems thinking of both the research topic and the interpretive methodology adopted.