Egypt's trade minister expects 10pct rise in exports 'if and when devaluation happens'

Passant Darwish , Tuesday 20 Sep 2016

Tarek Kabil
Minister of Industry and foreign trade Tarek Kabil (Photo: Courtesy of Ministry of Industry and Foreign Trade official Facebook page)

Egyptian exports are expected to be boosted by 10 percent if and when the devaluation of the local currency happens, Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil said on Tuesday.

During the second and the last day of the Euromoney Egypt conference, Kabil said that since January the country’s imports have gone down by $7 billion and exports have risen by $1 billion, “but it takes time to boost [local] industry.”

The minister said he hopes there will be a free floating exchange rate of the Egyptian pound by the next Euromoney conference in September 2017.

Egypt, which relies heavily on imports of wheat and other staples to feed its population of 90 million, has been facing a dollar squeeze since the 2011 uprisings, which was followed by political and security turmoil that had spooked tourists and investors.

In March, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) weakened the local currency by 14 percent of its value against the dollar in an attempt to eliminate the black market.

In December, the CBE imposed import controls in an attempt to reduce the import bill by 25 percent in 2016 compared to the previous year that was estimated at $20 billion.

According to the latest official statistics, Egypt's trade deficit was down 15.7 percent in June compared to the same month last year, to reach EGP 29.7 billion.

*The official exchange rate for $1 = EGP 8.78

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