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Cablegate: Egypt's Economy: February 10 Press Round-Up

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RUEATRS/DEPT OF TREASURY WASHINGTON DC
RUEHC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHINGTON DC
RUEHEG/AMEMBASSY CAIRO

UNCLAS CAIRO 000284

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E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ECON ETRD SENV EG EAGR ENRG EFIN
SUBJECT: EGYPT'S ECONOMY: FEBRUARY 10 PRESS ROUND-UP

1. (U) The following are notable economic news stories that
appeared over the past week in the Egyptian press:

--------------------------------------------- ---

Egypt Opposes AU Stance on the Copenhagen Accord

--------------------------------------------- ---

2. (U) Mona Amr, the Assistant Minister for African Affairs in
Egypt's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, indicated that the GOE opposes
the decision of the recent African Union summit to endorse the
Copenhagen Accord on climate change. Amr said that Egypt, which has
declined to associate itself with the accord, bases its opposition
on Egypt's support for developing nations (Al Ahram, 2/3/2010).

-------------------------------------

Sugar "Crisis" in the Egyptian Market

-------------------------------------

3. (U) Al Ahram newspaper labeled the recent rise in sugar prices a
"crisis" for the Egyptian market, with prices reaching LE 6
(US$1.10) per kilogram and the expectation that they will continue
to rise. Al Ahram quoted unnamed market analysts who blamed
monopolistic practices for the rise in sugar prices. (Al Ahram,
2/4/2010).

--------------------------------------------- -------

Nazif and Rachid Pledge Support for Egyptian Exports

--------------------------------------------- -------

4. (U) Minister of Trade and Industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid held a
meeting with the heads of export councils representing several
economic sectors to discuss the plan of the Ministry to
significantly increase Egyptian exports within four years. Prime
Minister Ahmed Nazif has endorsed the plan, which calls for exports
to grow to above LE 200 billion (US$36.4 billion), nearly twice the
current value of Egypt's exports. Nazif described export growth as
essential to restoring Egypt's high GDP growth rates, and said that
the GOE will provide various incentives to exporters to help them
overcome the impacts of the global economic crisis (Al Ahram, Al
Alam Al Youm, Al Masry Al Youm 2/4/2010, 2/3/2010).

-------------------------------------

Shortage of Butane Gas Prompts Outcry

-------------------------------------

5. (U) Long lines and minor clashes were reported around Egypt as a
result of a shortage of subsidized butane gas cylinders. The
cylinders, which are used by many Egyptians for home energy needs,
have been selling for up to LE 60 (US$10.94) on the black market,
well above the official price of LE 4 (US$0.73). Several Members of
Parliament have called for an investigation into the shortage, and
have called upon the relevant ministries to act to alleviate it.
The Ministry of Petroleum has pledged to increase the available
number of cylinders by 100,000, out of an estimated 27-32 million
cylinders currently in use. The Ministry of Social Solidarity has
called for the cylinders to be distributed under an annual coupon
system (Al Ahram, Al Masry Al Youm, Al Shorouk, 2/3/2010, 2/4/2010,
2/8/2010).

--------------------------------------------

Report Says Poverty, Child Labor on the Rise

--------------------------------------------

6. (U) Al Masry Al Youm reports that a special committee formed by
the Parliament has concluded that poverty and illiteracy rates are
rising in Egypt. The Parliamentary committee warned that per capita
incomes and education levels are declining in Egypt, while child
labor is on the rise (Al Masry Al Youm, 2/8/2010).
SCOBEY

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