Egypt would like to see a more direct physical presence from tech giant Apple even as the two are caught up in conflict over local iPhone sales, the country's Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouli said Wednesday.
"I think Egypt is a big market and attractive for Apple to exist in directly. Apple has been in Egypt but through indirect agents, suppliers ... But really, we discussed yesterday (with Apple), the idea really (is) to have Apple be in Egypt to be one of its industrial hubs and a destination to serve the whole region," the prime minister told CNBC's Hadley Gamble at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The smartphone maker has angered Egyptian authorities over its selling practices in the country, which the government says is causing iPhone prices to skyrocket. Egypt's Competition Authority on December 11 gave Apple a deadline of 60 days to resolve "unfair restrictions" over marked-up phones, whose price tags put them at as much as 50 percent higher than iPhones in other Middle Eastern countries.
The Competition Authority says this is because Apple is breaking the law by preventing its Middle East distributor from selling to local Egyptian distributors, deterring "intra-brand competition" and isolating the country from the broader regional market. While their threat doesn't include a permanent ban on sales, they have promised legal action if nothing is fixed by the 60-day deadline. Apple has reportedly not publicly responded to the claims.