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Wednesday, 29 April 2020

Still up 2% against the USD for the year, Reuters wonders whether EGP’s “coronavirus immunity” could “wane.”

Still up 2% against the USD for the year, Reuters wonders whether EGP’s “coronavirus immunity” could “wane.” The EGP “has been a rare riser among emerging market currencies beaten down by the coronavirus fallout, but pressure is growing on it to weaken,” Reuters suggests after speaking with analysts and bankers.

Where’s the pressure coming from: The country’s top FX earners, including remittances and tourism, are under pressure amid a global storm, potentially limiting policymakers’ ability to help maintain FX-rate stability as Egypt looks for an IMF facility — and faces outflows of portfolio investment in the global risk-off. Reserves hit a two-year low of USD 40.1 bn in March after the CBE drew down USD 5.4 bn in response to the shockwaves roiling the global economy. The bank used the reserves to “partially cover foreign portfolio investment outflows through the CBE’s FX repatriation mechanism and accommodate for the domestic market’s foreign currency needs to import strategic goods, as well as for the repayment of external debt service obligations,” the CBE said.

“Risks have increased of some near-term adjustment,” Goldman Sachs MENA economist Farouk Soussa tells the newswire. “We have heard concerns that a new IMF programme may require greater EGP flexibility in the medium term as well, but the evidence would suggest that EGP stability and an IMF programme are not mutually incompatible.”

The EGP has so far been one of the few EM currencies to hold its ground in 2020, while the MXN and ZAR are each down c. 20%. The EGP has been steady at around 15.69 against the greenback since last month.

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