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Monday, 8 November 2021

A mixed picture

Arab Monetary Fund slightly more optimistic on Egypt’s GDP outlook than IMF: The Egyptian economy will grow at a 5.4% clip in FY 2021-2022, up from 3.3% last year, according to the Arab Monetary Fund’s latest Arab Economic Outlook Report (pdf). The estimate comes in slightly higher than the 5.2% growth pencilled in for Egypt for this fiscal year by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in its most recent regional forecast. The AMF expects Egypt to see inflation of 5.9% in the 2021-2022 fiscal year, 0.4 percentage points lower than the IMF’s estimate of 6.3% inflation over the same period.


Want growth in the private sector? The state needs to do more to level the playing field, Hasnain Malik, head of research at emerging market research firm Tellimer, told Bloomberg Daybreak yesterday (watch, runtime: 08:04). “Egypt is stuck in a high-government debt, low-growth equilibrium,” he said, commenting on recent PMI figures that showed that the Egyptian private sector contracted for the 11th consecutive month in October. “The only way to change that is for the state and the military enterprises to take a step back and level the playing field for the private sector, whether that’s domestically owned or foreign multinationals,” he said.

Supply chain issues are weighing on businesses already struggling for growth: Though the country’s non-oil private sector has now been in contraction for almost a year, activity weakened to its lowest level since May last month as bottlenecks in global supply chains caused prices to rise at their fastest rate in over three years. The headline urban inflation rate jumped almost 1% in September to 6.6%, led by a rise in food prices Malik described as “worrying.”

The recovery in the tourism sector could help to offset food price inflation, he said, but warned that many of the economy’s structural vulnerabilities have not been solved by the government or the IMF program,

On a more positive note: The EGX has woken from its slumber, said Malik, noting that equities have rallied around 10% in recent weeks thanks to more attractive valuations, persistent underperformance, and better-than-expected results at index heavyweight CIB. Equities remain cheap and are currently at a 20% below the historic five-year average, he said.

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