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Country Forecast Egypt January 2018 Updater

Country Forecast Egypt January 2018 Updater

  • January 2018
  • ID: 5300772

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  • The president, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, whom we expect to run in the March-April presidential election and win it, will maintain his tight grip on the political process, assisted by a loyal security apparatus and a co-operative parliament, which is dominated by pro-government political parties. However, The Economist Intelligence Unit's forecast entails an uptick in the incidence of protests and labour strikes in the first half of the outlook period, largely driven by the painful side effects of the government's economic reform agenda. We nonetheless expect the government to be able to contain this risk with the help of the security apparatus.
  • Difficult economic conditions-namely the soaring cost of living, persistent unemployment and stagnant household incomes-have persisted in 2017 as the country adjusted to the new currency float regime. The outlook should improve thereafter, owing to an expected surge in domestic natural gas supply and a sharp decline in costly fuel imports. The latter should improve US dollar liquidity, with a positive ripple effect throughout the economy.
  • The government will continue to diversify its donor base and focus on boosting local and foreign investment. It will try to encourage investment by introducing a new, more pro-business legal framework, although such efforts could meet some opposition from powerful interest groups within government.
  • With the support of Mr Sisi, economic policy will shift from a focus on stimulus to more moderate spending increases (in real terms) throughout most of the forecast period. Financing constraints will prove a major setback to the government's ambitious public investment programme and job-creation targets, prompting increased reliance on private investment and external financing.
  • We forecast that the fiscal deficit will narrow, albeit gradually, from 10.9% of GDP in fiscal year 2016/17 (July-June) to 6.8% of GDP in 2021/22 as new tax measures broaden the government's revenue base and spending is reined in by subsidy cuts.
  • The adoption of a floating currency regime in November 2016 means that the Egyptian pound was far weaker against the dollar in 2017 than in 2016. However, in the following years we expect the pound to regain some strength, reflecting increased confidence in the fundamentals of the economy and rising natural gas production.
  • The current-account deficit as a proportion of GDP will narrow throughout the forecast period, owing in part to the growing domestic natural gas supply and a reduction in costly fuel imports.






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