Egypt Economy

Egypt Economy

Egypt’s economy became socialized after the enactment of a series of laws in early 1961. The government took over foreign trade, wholesale trade, banking, insurance, and most industries. Although agriculture, urban real estate, and some factories remained in private hands, strict regulation was imposed. A five-year plan introduced in 1960 caused a considerable expansion of industry and an increase in production. The plan was replaced in 1965 by a seven-year plan that was less successful, in part due to insufficient foreign investment; in return, a modest three-year plan was introduced in 1967. Casualties suffered during the Arab-Israeli War in June 1967, and the general economic maladjustment that persisted afterwards, seriously retarded economic and social development.

The ills of the Egyptian economy were one of the main reasons for peace in the late 1970s, because the country could not afford another military confrontation. Although the economy grew rapidly during the late 1970s and early 1970s, the plunge in oil prices in the mid- 1980s, followed by the Persian Gulf crisis of 1990, left Egypt in a difficult financial situation, to which was added the payment of interest on foreign aid, which in the mid-1990s amounted to $ 4 billion. Egypt responded by privatizing more than 300 state companies and implementing structural reforms.

The estimated national budget for 1995 consisted of $ 20.909 million in revenue and $ 20.249 million in expenditures. The gross domestic product (GDP) was 75,605 million dollars (1997).


  • Daily News Egypt [1]


According to educationvv, Egypt is a predominantly agricultural country, where 40% of the workforce is linked to agriculture or livestock. The form of ownership was greatly altered by the Agrarian Reform Law of 1952, which limited individual holdings to about 80 hectares, a size that was revised in 1961 to about 40 hectares, and was reduced again in 1969 to 20 hectares. Land seized by the government was distributed to the fellah (peasants), but economic differences still persist between the middle-class agricultural owners and the fellah.

Government programs have expanded farmland through plowing, irrigation (especially since the completion of the Aswan Dam in 1970), and the use of advanced technology (fertilizers and machinery). The last large-scale project, known as Nuevo Valle, was launched on January 9, 1997. Its dual purpose is to convert some 200,000 hectares of the Egyptian desert into arable land and, in this way, cause the displacement and subsequent settlement in this area of a population that is currently massively concentrated in the valley area and the Nile delta. This controversial project envisaged diverting water from Lake Nasser by means of electric pumps and a canal that communicated several oases. Experts estimated that the project would take about 20 years to complete. The Egyptian government would take care of 20% of the estimated total cost, about $ 30 million, and offered incentives and concessions to investors who were willing to finance the rest of the project.

Farm yields are among the highest in the world. Egypt is the most important producer of long-staple (cotton fiber). Cotton production in 1998 was 850,000 t. Corn yields are also among the highest in the world, with an annual production reaching 5.33 million t. Other important crops are sugar cane (13.8 million t), wheat (6.09 million t), Rice (5.59 million t) and vegetables (12.2 million t). Watermelons, millet, barley, onions, citrus fruits, mangoes, dates, figs and grapes are also produced.

Cattle raising

Livestock, in 1998, consisted of 3.18 million head of cattle, 3.15 million oxen, 4.30 million sheep, 3.20 million goats, 1.72 million donkeys and 103 million poultry.


Egypt has a significant fishing industry. In 1996 the annual catch was 309,576 t. Among the most productive areas are the shallow delta lagoons, Birkat Qarun and the Red Sea. Sardine catches along the Mediterranean coast, once very productive, have been greatly reduced since the construction of the Aswan Dam. The fishing industry is developing on Lake Nasser.


Annual production of crude oil, Egypt’s most important mineral product, was about 3.8 million tons in the early 1960s. Due to the discovery in the 1950s and 1960s of large oil fields in the -Alamein and in the Gulf of Suez areas, along with increased exploitation in the 1970s, the annual production of crude oil increased to 313 million barrels in 1997. Also produced annually 13,500 million m³ of gas natural. In the mid-1970s an Italian consortium built a pipeline to carry 80 million tons of oil a year from the Gulf of Suez to the Mediterranean Sea.
Other important products are: iron ore (1,700,000 tons), salt (890,000 tons), and phosphates (800,000 tons). In 1991 uranium mining began near Aswan.


The most important products of Egyptian industry (annual tons metric in the early 1990s) are cotton yarn (324,000), thread Jute and tissues (47,000), woolen yarn (19,000), refined sugar (366,000), sulfuric acid (101,000), nitrogen fertilizers (5,324,000), paper (197,000), cement (17,300,000), vehicle wheels and tires (3,391,000 units) and television receivers (264,000 units). Other industrial activities include iron and steel production (in Hulwan), automobile assembly and oil refining (in various places). These and other industries employed 22% of the Egyptian labor force in 1990. Other industries of less economic importance are leather tanning, beverage manufacturing and ceramic products, perfumes, handicrafts, cottonseed oil, etc. flour, other food products and asphalt. Most of the industrial activity is centered in the vicinity of Cairo and Alexandria.

Foreign trade

Egypt’s main imports are agricultural and food products, transport equipment, chemicals, mining and quarrying machinery, and metallurgical products. The main suppliers are the United States, Germany, Italy, France and Japan. Due to rapid population growth, the country has become increasingly dependent on imports, especially food, especially wheat, flour and meat. The main exports are petroleum and derived products, raw cotton, cotton fabrics and yarn, and food products. The main trading partners for these and other exports are Italy, Romania, Germany, Great Britain, France and Japan.
Despite large-scale investments and strict government controls, Egypt has a notable deficit in its balance of payments. The main sources of foreign exchange are provided by sales of cotton, oil, income from the passage of ships through the Suez Canal, tourism and foreign aid. In the late 1970s, revenues increased after the reopening of the Suez Canal and the peace agreement with Israel, which allowed for the handover of the occupied territory of Sinai (which contains oil fields). The external debt with Western countries, in the mid-1990s, amounted to 10 billion dollars. Egypt’s chronic trade deficit was increasing at a rate of $ 2.75 billion annually in the early 1990s. In 1996 exports accounted for 3,535 million dollars and imports 13,019 million dollars.


Tourism is one of Egypt’s main sources of foreign exchange income, both because of the tourists themselves and because of the significant investments made by international hotel chains. Due to the nature of the tourist activity, it generates a very important number of jobs, which include personnel from: Tourism agencies, Hotels, manufacturing and marketing of handicrafts, transportation, among others. Three main areas can be identified where tourist activity is focused:

  • Cairo and surroundings: the pyramids of Giza, together with the Great Sphinx (on the outskirts of the city) are the main attractions, which are complemented by the treasures of the Cairo museum that exhibits the treasure of Tutankhamun, and the Khan bazaar El Khalili (pronounced Jan El Jalili).
  • The southern area: with the Valley of the Kings, Abu Simbel and other archaeological treasures, as well as cruises on the Nile.
  • The southern part of the Sinai Peninsula: with very arid coasts on the Red Sea, it is a place famous for the richness and variety of its underwater fauna and flora, being a renowned diving center. The seaside resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, is a landmark in the area, which is served by numerous direct flights from Europe.

Egypt Economy