Economy, Foreign Trade
liberal policies, trade deficit, staple cotton, growing industries, aluminum products
Before the revolution of 1952, Egypt's foreign trade consisted mainly of exports of raw materials, particularly long-staple cotton, and imports of manufactured goods. After the revolution, the regime pursued a policy of discouraging imports by using high tariff barriers to protect its growing industries. It also brought most of the country's commerce under government control. More liberal policies were introduced in the 1970s. However, it was only in the 1990s that steps were taken to open up parts of the Egyptian market to foreign competition. There was also a new emphasis on exports. Apart from exports of crude petroleum and refined petroleum products, this policy has not alleviated trade imbalances. In 2000 exports were sold for $4.7 billion while imports cost $14 billion. As a result, the country runs a trade deficit. Part of this deficit is offset by the money Egypt earns from tourism, Suez Canal tolls, and remittances from Egyptians working abroad.
Petroleum and petroleum products contributed just over half of Egypt’s export earnings in the late 1990s. Other exports include textile yarn and fabrics, fruits and vegetables, clothing and accessories, and aluminum products. The principal imports are machinery and transportation equipment; basic manufactures, particularly iron, steel, and paper; food products, primarily cereals; and chemicals. The United States is Egypt's main trading partner, followed by Italy, Germany, and France.
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