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The Africa Confidential Blog

  • 2nd November 2023

Egypt seeks economic aid as Israel-Hamas war escalates

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Already facing record levels of inflation, Egypt's economic woes were deepened by a credit rating downgrade in October attributed to growing concerns about its debt affordability. The IMF has warned that Egypt's foreign exchange reserves will continue southwards unless it again devalues its currency, which has lost half its value since March.

As Egypt becomes a focal point in the fallout from the war between Israel and Hamas, international agencies are looking for ways to prop up its economy. The European Union has been quick to recognise the strategic importance of Cairo amid the risks of war spreading. Officials in Brussels say that food imports, specifically Ukrainian grain, could be part of a broad package of economic support in exchange for Egypt controlling its borders in the event of a surge in migratory flows from Gaza. That is likely to be supplemented with direct budget support and finance for border controls and infrastructure projects.

Deserving or not, the winner in all this will be Egypt's President Abdel Fattah el Sisi with just six weeks until elections on 10 December. Details on the projects, and the sums of money involved, are secret, but we can expect the total value to be significantly higher than the €785 million deal cut with Tunisia in July. The United States is more restricted but may decide to unblock military aid frozen because of human rights concerns in Egypt.