Cement drives Egypt's first exports rise for 6 months

Ahram Online, Monday 15 Oct 2012

Libya's hunger for cement has led a significant rise in Egyptian exports, new figures show

 Cement drives Egypt first exports rise for first time in 6 months
New projects to boost cement production in MENA. (Photo: Reuters)

The value of Egyptian exports charted annual growth in September for the first time in six months, fuelled by demand from troubled Libya, data from the Department of Industry and Commerce showed on Monday.

The increase in the value of construction materials from LE2.8 billion in September 2011 to LE4.8 billion in September 2012 drove the spike.

Total value of all Egyptian exports reached LE 11.7 billion ($1.9 billion) in September 2012 versus LE10.17 billion in the same month last year.

An increase in construction materials to Libya specifically impacted the hikes, says Ahmed El-Zeini, head of construction material division in Cairo's chamber of commerce.

"Libya started to import large quantities of Egyptian cement, taking advantage of the lower costs, since it is transported via trucks, unlike Turkey and other countries," Al Zeiny says.

Not only did the quantity increase, but the cement pricing also rose. Since the start of the year it went from around some $50 per tonne to over $60 per tonne, further adding to the increase of exports revenue.

Egypt's proximity to Libya, however, still does not give Egyptian steel a major advantage, says El-Zeini, who reveals that "Egyptian steel exports to Libya are somehow limited because Turkey offers considerably better prices."

Over the first nine months of 2012, Egypt's total exports reached some LE97 billion ($16 bn), according to the latest figure from the Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade. This is a drop of around 20 per cent below last year, where exports reached $21 billion, according to central bank data.

In June, the trade deficit surged to 49 per cent, or LE 17.9 billion over the last year, according to the latest period for which data is available.

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