The fact that Egypt imported US$44.5 billion more worth of products than it exported during 2014 is good news for suppliers around the globe.
That’s because the multi-billion dollar trade deficit represents international sales opportunities for exports to Egypt since the country is a net spender on a specific set of goods highlighted below.
Drilling down from its overall negative balance, Egypt performed worst in its international trade with partners from Europe incurring a -$21.3 billion shortfall. Exporters in Asia also profited at Egypt’s expense, accounting for a -$18.6 billion trade deficit at Egypt’s expense. Middle Eastern exporters also satisfied demand as shown by a -$4.1 billion Egyptian deficit.
Country-specific trade deficits indicate Egypt’s competitive disadvantages and areas which foreign businesses can and do exploit. Egypt accumulated the world’s seventh-biggest trade deficit during 2014.
Egypt’s trade deficit in 2014 grew by 66.9% since 2010 when its negative balance totaled -$26.7 billion.
International Sales Opportunities for Exports to Egypt
The following list shows the top 10 general product categories under which Egypt racked up the severest trade deficits during 2014.
- Machinery: -US$5.5 billion (11.6% of all product deficits)
- Vehicles : -$5.1 billion (10.8%)
- Cereals: -$5 billion (10.6%)
- Iron, steel: -$3.7 billion (7.8%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$3.6 billion (7.7%)
- Electronic equipment: -$2.7 billion (5.8%)
- Articles of iron or steel: -$2.2 billion (4.6%)
- Wood: -$1.8 billion (3.8%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$1.7 billion (3.5%)
- Meat: -$1.6 billion (3.4%)
The above top 10 product categories represent 67% of Egypt’s overall product-category deficit subtotal which amounted to -$49.3 billion. For that subtotal, 69 of Egypt’s 97 general product categories incurred deficits in 2014 while the remaining 28 categories delivered surplus amounts.
Egypt deepened its trade deficit amounts at the greatest-pace during 2010 to 2014 under the product categories below.
- Sugar, sugar confectionery: Up 2,420% since 2010 (-US$299.1 million)
- Vegetable plaiting materials: Up 1,007% (-$1.3 million)
- Arms and ammunition: Up 743.7% (-$34 million)
- Aircraft, spacecraft: Up 726% (-$65.8 million)
- Other chemical goods: Up 562.3% (-$451.2 million)
- Lead: Up 478% (-$16.4 million)
- Cereal/milk preparations: Up 435% (-$77.7 million)
- Knit or crochet fabric: Up 280.6% (-$121.5 million)
- Food industry waste, animal fodder: Up 198.9% (-$959.8 million)
- Umbrellas and walking-sticks: Up 139.1% (-$1.5 million)
From the perspective of the more detailed 4-digit harmonized tariff system (HTS) level, below are 15 products that pushed Egypt into the most costly deficits versus its international trade partners.
- Processed petroleum oils: -US$3.1 billion
- Wheat: -$3.1 billion
- Cars: -$2.6 billion
- Corn: -$1.9 billion
- Phone system devices: -$1.7 billion
- Iron or non-alloy steel products (semi-finished): -$1.5 billion
- Medication mixes in dosage: -$1.4 billion
- Sawn wood: -$1.4 billion
- Miscellaneous iron or steel items: -$1.2 billion
- Frozen beef: -$1.2 billion
- Automobile parts/accessories: -$1.2 billion
- Soya beans: -$1.1 billion
- Iron or steel scrap: -$1 billion
- Refined copper, unwrought alloys: -$0.7 billion
- TV/radio/radar device parts: -$0.7 billion
Television, radio and radar device parts had the fastest-growing Egyptian deficit accelerating by 363.4% since 2010. In second place were processed petroleum oils up 347.8% while negative net exports for medication mixes in dosage appreciated by 110.7%.
Major Product Demand by Egypt’s Supplying Countries
The following list presents trade partners with which Egypt racked up the highest trade deficits in 2014.
- China: -US$7.7 billion (15.3% of Egyptian country-specific deficits)
- Germany: -$4.9 billion (9.6%)
- United States: -$4.1 billion (8.1%)
- Ukraine: -$3 billion (5.9%)
- Kuwait: -$2.9 billion (5.8%)
- Russia: -$2.6 billion (5.1%)
- Brazil: -$2 billion (4%)
- South Korea: -$2 billion (3.9%)
- Turkey: -$1.4 billion (2.8%)
- France: -$1.3 billion (2.6%)
The above 10 trade partners represent 63.1% of Egypt’s subtotal deficit of -$50.5 billion from the 107 geographic entities with which Egypt demonstrated strong import demand. That subtotal excludes the 95 geographic entities with which Egypt earned trade surpluses.
Egypt grew its trade deficit amounts with the geographic entities below at the fastest-pace during 2010 to 2014, providing evidence of accelerating demand for exports from these international suppliers.
- Moldova: Up 3,829% since 2010 (-US$24.7 million)
- Namibia: Up 3,337% (-$3.2 million)
- Paraguay: Up 1,683% (-$75.6 million)
- Ecuador: Up 1,075% (-$23.1 million)
- Lesotho: Up 700% (-$136,000)
- Botswana: Up 684.6% (-$102,000)
- Romania: Up 680.3% (-$698.6 million)
- Bolivia: Up 605.9% (-$1.9 million)
- United Arab Emirates: Up 524.6% (-$729.8 million)
- Switzerland: Up 502% (-$868.5 million)
From the above list, Egypt mostly showed major product sales disadvantages versus this group of traders with comparatively small populations and for generally small deficit amounts. However, Egypt did generate significant million-dollar negative trade balances with Switzerland, Romania and the UAE.
Below are the products that resulted in the greatest Egyptian deficits in international trade with China.
- Phone system devices: -US$575.4 million (7.4% of Egypt’s deficit vs. China)
- Synthetic filament yarn: -$298.6 million (3.9%)
- TV/radio/radar device parts: -$240.8 million (3.1%)
- Miscellaneous iron or steel items: -$206.1 million (2.7%)
- Baby clothing, accessories: -$157.8 million (2%)
- Women’s shirts (not knit or crochet): -$150.7 million (1.9%)
- Women’s singlets,pyjamas (not knit or crochet): -$150.2 million (1.9%)
- Synthetic yarn woven fabrics: -$147.2 million (1.9%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: -$131.4 million (1.7%)
- Computers, optical readers: -$128.9 million (1.7%)
Among these, women’s singlets and pyjamas (not knit or crochet) had the fastest-growing Egyptian deficit with China accelerating by 574.4% from 2010 to 2014. In second place were baby clothing and accessories up 203.6% followed by miscellaneous iron or steel items increasing by 179%.
Below are the products that resulted in the greatest Egyptian deficits in international trade with Germany.
- Medication mixes in dosage: -US$685.6 million (14.1% of Egypt’s deficit vs. Germany)
- Cars: -$264.5 million (5.4%)
- Phone system devices: -$262.3 million (5.4%)
- Miscellaneous iron or steel items: -$222.1 million (4.6%)
- Tractors: -$178.6 million (3.7%)
- Automobile parts/accessories: -$117.3 million (2.4%)
- Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays): -$110.8 million (2.3%)
- Trucks: -$99.4 million (2%)
- Connector/insulating parts: -$96.3 million (2%)
- Antibiotics: -$71.7 million (1.5%)
Among these, antibiotics had the fastest-growing Egyptian deficit with Germany accelerating by 114.5% from 2010 to 2014. In second place were phone system devices up 70% followed by cars increasing by 69.9%.
Below are the products that resulted in the greatest Egyptian deficits in international trade with the United States.
- Corn: -US$701.4 million (17.2% of Egypt’s deficit vs. US)
- Soya beans: -$383.7 million (9.4%)
- Miscellaneous iron or steel items: -$328.8 million (8.1%)
- Iron or steel scrap: -$321.4 million (7.9%)
- Vinyl chloride polymers: -$235.9 million (5.8%)
- Processed petroleum oils: -$222.8 million (5.5%)
- Red meat offal: -$218.6 million (5.4%)
- Phone system devices: -$144.4 million (3.5%)
- Beet-pulp, brew/distilling waste: -$139.5 million (3.4%)
- Wheat: -$115.2 million (2.8%)
Among these, corn had the fastest-growing Egyptian deficit with America accelerating by 659.4% from 2010 to 2014. In second place was iron or steel scrap up 68% followed by processed petroleum oils increasing by 28.3%.
The World Factbook, Country Profiles, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on December 23, 2015
Trade Map, International Trade Centre. Accessed on December 23, 2015
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on December 23, 2015