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Wednesday, 7 October 2020

Egyptian industries’ overall performance dropped 25.4% since the onset of the pandemic

Egyptian industries’ overall performance dropped 25.4% since the onset of the pandemic, with the drop driven primarily by weak domestic consumption and export activity, according to a report (pdf) from the Industrial Modernization Center (IMC) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). The index measures overall performance by looking at labor force, production lines, financing and liquidity, companies’ ability to make good on debt and tax payments, domestic sales and exports, companies’ reliance on digital technology, and their crisis management capacity.

Slower domestic sales and exports led to a liquidity crunch among manufacturers, which in turn forced layoffs and downsizing production activity, the report says. The ability to keep up with tax payments has also been negatively impacted by the pandemic, but a smaller segment of the country’s manufacturers reported difficulties with this indicator than with liquidity, labor force, and the production process, including shortages in raw materials.

On the flipside, industry reported a significant improvement in their uptake of technology and digital solutions for business continuity throughout the pandemic. The report does not specify the type of technology that companies relied on, or how this was integrated into their business operations. Companies also reported stronger crisis management policies since the pandemic broke out.

How stimulus measures helped industry: Nearly half of the companies surveyed said the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) six-month debt repayment holiday helped them weather the covid storm, with 74% saying they would like the holiday to be extended. CBE Governor Tarek Amer had said last month that the freeze would not be extended. Companies cited cuts to electricity prices for industry as the second-most helpful stimulus measure, but only 19% of respondents felt that lower natgas prices were helpful. 20% of companies surveyed said the CBE’s emergency 300 bps rate cut in March was positive for performance. The measures were disproportionately helpful for large and medium companies, however, with some small and micro companies saying they did not benefit at all from any of the measures.

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