Egypt's import backlog almost cleared; goods worth $4.8 bn released in 4 days, PM says

Mohamed Soliman , Wednesday 18 Jan 2023

Between 14 and 17 January, Egypt released $4.8 billion worth of goods that were stuck in its ports due to the country's hard currency crunch, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said.

Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly
Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly speaking during a press conference on Wednesday 18 January 2023. (Photo: Snapshot Extra News channel)


Currently, Madbouly added, only $5.3 billion worth of commodities are still at the ports, though they include commodities worth $3 billion still pending importers to finalise the needed clearance procedures.

"This means we can say we almost finalised the [clearance of] accumulated goods at ports, and the cycle of the entry and exit of [imported] goods has started to return to its normal [pace], the prime minister told a press conference on Wednesday, adding that "there will never be zero imports at ports because everyday goods exit and new goods enter."

The country's hard currency shortage, notably in the US dollar, is in part due to the exit of approximately $25 billion in indirect investments (hot money) with the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war in February. The crisis has prompted the Egyptian authorities to apply curbs on import finance, which has caused vast quantities of goods to accumulate at ports.

As of December, Egypt has gradually phased out these curbs – alongside adopting a flexible exchange rate – in tandem with a 46-month financial support package agreed upon with the International Monetary Fund.

Until 10 January, the Egyptian government in coordination with the banking sector had announced the release of imported goods worth a total of $8.5 billion.

PM Madbouly says with the return of the dollar resources announced by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), the government seeks to restore the normality of economic activities, including the stability of hard currency inflow and exchange rate in order to restore balance in the local market.  

The CBE announced on Monday that some $925 million in indirect investments in local debt instruments were poured into the country since Wednesday of last week, increasing the reserves of hard currency.

The Egyptian pound hit its lowest-ever price last week, trading at EGP 31 against the US dollar before slowing down to EGP 29.63 at the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) and major banks.

Despite all the challenges, the country's exports in 2022 increased by around 20 percent to $53.8 billion, compared to $45 billion in 2021, while non-oil import bill remained unchanged at $80 billion, Madbouly said.

The petroleum exports registered $18.2 billion in 2022, compared to $12.9 billion in 2021, Petroleum Minister Tarek El-Moulla said during the presser.

Madbouly added that the government is working to further increase exports to bridge the dollar gap between revenues and expenditures.

Earlier this month, the Egyptian government issued a number of regulations for state bodies to cut spending till the end of the current of fiscal year in June amid the ongoing global economic crisis. This included postponing as-yet-to start projects that require US dollars.


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