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Monday, 19 April 2021

Trade deficit remains flat 1Q2021

Egypt’s non-oil trade deficit remained essentially flat in 1Q2021, narrowing just 1% to reach USD 9.55 bn compared to USD 9.68 bn in 1Q2020, Trade and Industry Minister Nevine Gamea said in a statement. The slim drop in the deficit came as non-oil exports rose 6% y-o-y to USD 7.44 bn in 1Q2021 despite the impact of covid-19 on global trade, while imports increased 2% y-o-y to USD 16.99 bn.

Chemicals and fertilizers accounted for the lion’s share of our exports, clocking in at USD 1.53 bn during the quarter, followed by construction materials (USD 1.35 bn) and food industries (USD 965 mn), head of the General Organization for Import and Export Control Ismail Gaber said in a separate statement.

Our biggest export markets: Turkey, the US, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and Malta, which together received nearly 31% of our exports during the first three months of the year, worth a combined USD 2.28 bn.

What about the CBE figures? Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) data on Egypt’s trade balance performance don’t line up with the figures from the Trade and Industry Ministry, which is a normal discrepancy because of how the two bodies calculate imports and exports, ministry spokesperson Yasser Gaber told Enterprise. According to Gaber, the ministry’s data is based on activity at Egypt’s ports, while the CBE relies on bank transfers. However, not all import and export payments are processed through bank transfers, Gaber noted.

Background: CBE figures released last week indicated that a rise in non-oil imports drove Egypt’s trade deficit to widen 6.6% in 1H2020-2021. Exports grew slightly during the first six months of the fiscal year by USD 131.5 mn y-o-y to record USD 9.3 bn. In 2020, non-oil trade deficit narrowed 17% y-o-y due to lower imports.

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