The North Africa Country Series: Arab Republic of Egypt

As part of its initiative to introduce non-conventional markets to Pakistani businesses, the Pakistan Business Council (PBC), in 2019, has initiated the North-Africa Country Series. The North Africa Country Series features four countries; Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Tunisia. This profile of the Arab Republic of Egypt (Egypt) is the second in the series.

Egypt, a Mediterranean country, is located on the north-eastern corner of Africa. The country, is bordered by Sudan, Libya, Israel and the Red Sea. Egypt, is one of the oldest civilizations in the world and has a rich and diverse history. According to various records, Egypt’s history can be traced back to 6000 BC, during which the region has been ruled by various local rulers as well as renowned conquerors and dynasties; Alexander the Great, the Byzantine Empire, the Abbasids, the Fathmids, the Ottomans, and the British. Currently, Abdul Fattah al-Sisi serves as the President of the country after winning the 2018 elections.

Following the riots in 2011, the Egyptian economy has been in shambles. At the end of 2017, Egypt’s GDP had contracted to USD 235.37 billion whereas annual inflation had soared to 29.5% this in turn also affected the net-FDI inflows which were recorded at USD 7.39 billion in 2017. The services sector is the largest contributor to the Egyptian economy followed by the industrial sector; constituting 33.75% of the GDP in 2017 whilst providing employment to 17% of the labour force. Agriculture has never been a major contributor to the Egyptian economy, owing to 96% of the land area being desert.

Egypt's Trade Overview

Egypt’s trade balance, as shown in the figure above, has not been in the country’s favour in the last five years. From having a deficit of over USD 37 billion in 2013, Egypt recorded a trade deficit of USD 40.4 billion in 2017 with exports valued at USD 25.94 billion against imports of USD 66.34 billion. The worsening of the BoT is primarily due to stagnant exports coupled with growing imports.

During recent years, the UAE has become one of the more favorable destination of Egyptian goods, surpassing Italy in 2016. Other major destinations of Egyptian exports include, Turkey, Saudi Arab and the USA. Regarding the major import sources for Egypt, China tops the list followed by Germany, Italy and Saudi Arab. Wheat, natural liquefied gas (LNG) and maize account for a significant proportion of Egypt’s import bill.

Egypt’s trade with Pakistan is not very significant. In 2017, Egypt’s exports to Pakistan were recorded at USD 133.7 million against an untapped potential of USD 2.15 billion whereas imports were valued at USD 81.78 million with an untapped potential of USD 1.26 billion. Currently, Pakistan’s exports to Egypt comprise of denim fabric, cotton and other woven fabrics whereas sanitary towels and raw cotton were the major imports from Egypt.

The PBC is a private sector not-for- profit advocacy platform set up in 2005 by 14 (now 79) of Pakistan’s largest businesses. PBC’s research based advocacy supports measures which improve Pakistani industry’s regional and global competitiveness. More information about PBC, its members, objectives and activities can be found on its website: