Egypt’s trade deficit narrows by 17% in 2020 – minister

Egypt’s balance of trade deficit shrank by 17 percent to $38.291 billion in 2020, compared to $46.225 billion in the prior year, Minister of Trade and Industry, Nevine Gamea said on Tuesday.

The North African nation’s exports inched down by 1 percent to $25.295 billion last year from $25.637 billion in 2019, while imports dropped by 12 percent to $63.587 million in 2020 from $71.862 million a year earlier, Gamea added.

The government managed to protect the local industries from the repercussions of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic through exceptional measures such as slashing gas and electricity fees and launching several initiatives to pay overdue export subsidies, she pointed out.

The steep drop in imports was driven by the national programme launched by the ministry for manufacturing production requirements and inputs locally.

Exports of building materials grew by 20 percent to $6.15 billion last year from $5.14 billion in 2019, while exports of medical industries rose by 1 percent to $548 million in 2020 from $540 million.

Meanwhile, imports of ready-made garments declined by 24 percent to $414 million from $544 million, whereas imports of handicrafts fell by 21 percent to $317 million from $401 million.

The UAE topped Egypt’s export destinations with $2.88 billion, while exports to the US, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, and Italy reached $1.556 billion, $1.7 billion, $1.614 billion, and $1.268 billion, respectively.

China was the largest exporter to Egypt with a value of $11.57 billion, while imports to the US, Germany, Italy, and Russia amounted to $4.577 billion, $3.959 billion, $3.15 billion, and $2.94 billion, in that order.