Egypt’s non-petroleum exports to rise to $22 bln before year-end: minister

Egypt’s non-petroleum exports should grow to reach around $22 billion before the end of this year, Trade Minister Tarek Qabil said Tuesday, as the country is keen to promote national production.

Last year, they were at about $20 billion.

“The ministry is determined to achieve its goal to increase the industrial sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP to reach 21.1 percent instead of 17.5 percent by 2020.” Qabil told an economic conference in Cairo.

Egypt has been looking to plug a gaping trade deficit that stood at $42.64 billion last year but which has been narrowing in recent months, helped by a currency float that halved the pound currency’s value, making Egyptian goods cheaper abroad and buying more expensive.

Earlier, Qabil said in September that the trade balance this year had been reduced by 37 percent, with imports down 23 percent to almost $30 billion and exports growing by 11.5 percent to $15 billion.

Egypt has been trying to market itself as a manufacturing hub for foreign investors, with easy access to European markets, relatively cheap labor, and economic reforms tied to a $12 billion International Monetary Fund lending program it hopes will instill confidence in investors, many of whom fled after the 2011 uprising.

Foreign direct investment for the financial year that ended in June hit $7.9 billion, but Cairo is hoping a new investment law offering a slew of incentives which is expected to be active within weeks will help it top $10 billion this year.