Sisi: Egypt should reduce imports to ease currency shortage

President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi suggested the country should “rationalize imports from abroad” to ease the burden on the state’s foreign currency resources. 


Egypt imports “many non-essential products that have local alternatives that offer higher quality and competitive prices,” the presidency added. 


The statement came after a Saturday meeting between the president, the governor of the Central Bank and members of the Cabinet.


Egypt’s foreign exchange policy has been the subject of high-level controversy in recent months. 


Egypt’s foreign reserves are dwindling, leading observers and officials — including the investment Minister — to call for a devaluation of the Egyptian pound


The pound, which is unofficially pegged to the US dollar, has risen in contrast to other global currencies like the euro.


The Central Bank has only allowed two small devaluations in 2015. In the meantime, it has enforced strict controls on dollar transfers and deposits, and rationed the supply of dollars via currency auctions.


The restrictions have come as a blow to local businesses, who say they are struggling to secure enough foreign currency to meet their importing needs. 


Sisi’s comments appear to support the Central Bank in continuing to tightly control the amount of hard currency available to importers.


Egypt’s trade deficit grew by almost 14 percent in the 2014/15 fiscal year, reaching US$38.8 billion. 


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