Egypt’s balance of payments saw a total surplus of $523.5 million by the end of September 2022, according to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) this week.
The country’s economic transactions with the rest of the world, as reflected in the current account, also improved during the first quarter (July to September) of the 2022-23 fiscal year, with the current account deficit narrowing by 20.2 per cent to about $3.2 billion compared to about $4 billion during the same period of the previous year.
The CBE has attributed this improvement to the increase in both tourism revenues and income from petroleum and non-petroleum exports, in addition to the rise in income from the Suez Canal.
The CBE’s report also stated that financial transactions had recorded an inflow of about $4.4 billion as a result of a doubling of the net inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI) to about $3.3 billion.
Revenues from non-oil commodity exports in 2022 increased by 5.1 per cent to about $6.3 billion. The increase was concentrated in commodities like phosphate and mineral fertilisers, gold, ready-made clothes, and electronics.
On imports, payments for non-oil commodities decreased by 9.9 per cent to about $15.3 billion. The decline was concentrated in imports of passenger cars, telephones, and pharmaceuticals.
Tourism revenues increased by 43.5 per cent in the first 10 months of 2022 to about $4.1 billion, due to the increase in the number of tourist nights by 47.1 per cent to about 43.6 million nights and in the number of tourist arrivals in Egypt by 52.2 per cent to about 3.4 million.
The report stated that the remittances of Egyptians working abroad decreased by 20.9 per cent to about $6.4 billion in 2022 compared to about $8.1 billion during the same period of 2021.
Revenues from investments increased to about $4.8 billion compared to about $4 billion in 2021, with this reflecting the increase in profits of FDI in Egypt.
Khaled Abul-Makarem, head of the Export Council for Chemical Industries and Fertilisers, said that an increase in the performance of the sector’s exports in 2022 had reached a record of about $8.629 billion.
Exports of the chemical industries topped the list of non-oil exports, representing 24 per cent of the total, according to Abul-Makarem, achieving an unprecedented growth rate of 23 per cent compared to during the previous year which recorded $7.033 billion worth of exports.
“The sector’s exports witnessed a significant increase,” Abul-Makarem said, adding that the most noticeable were fertiliser exports, with an increase of 42 per cent to reach a value of $3.389 billion.
Exports of non-organic chemicals increased by 105 per cent, bringing the total value to $1.316 billion, he said.
He pointed out that despite the relative decline in Egyptian chemical-industry exports to the Turkish market by one per cent in 2022 compared to 2021, Turkey still topped the list of the most important markets for the Egyptian chemicals sector, with a value of $1.013 billion in 2022 compared to about $1.027 billion in 2021.
Italy, which ranked second in the list of the countries importing chemicals from Egypt, increased by 58 per cent in its imports, reaching about $726.5 million in 2022 compared to $460.9 million in 2021.
India came in third place, and France and Britain came in fourth and fifth place, achieving a growth rate of 16, 44, and 149 per cent, respectively.
“Egypt is looking forward to its fertiliser exports reaching $4 billion this year, an increase of more than 17 per cent over 2022,” said Sherif Al-Gebali, head of the Chamber of Chemical Industries at the Federation of Egyptian Industries.
He said that Egypt’s fertiliser exports had risen by 42 per cent in 2022 to reach $3.39 billion. This improvement came on the back of the increased demand for Egyptian fertilisers as an alternative to importing them from Russia.
“This has opened the door for Egyptian fertilisers to enter new European and African markets,” Al-Gebali said, adding that Egypt’s total exports had achieved a record level in 2022, increasing by 20 per cent compared to 2021 to reach $53.8 billion.
* A version of this article appears in print in the 9 February, 2023 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly