Egypt's trade deficit is chronic. In the early 1990s yearly exports amounted to some $3.5 billion and annual imports to about $10.5 billion.
The major exports of Egypt are petroleum and petroleum products, textile yarn and fabrics, vegetables and fruit, clothing and accessories, and aluminum products. The chief purchasers in the early 1990s were Italy, Israel, the United States, the former Soviet Union, France, Greece, Germany, and Romania. Because of rapid population growth, the country is increasingly dependent on imports and food grants, especially for wheat, flour, and meat. The principal imports of Egypt are machinery and transportation equipment; basic manufactures, particularly iron, steel, and paper; food products, primarily cereals; and chemicals. Leading suppliers included the United States, Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain, and Japan.
Despite large-scale investments and tight government controls, Egypt has a serious balance-of-payments problem. The major sources of foreign currency are oil, cotton, Suez Canal revenues, tourism, and foreign aid. In the late 1970s revenues expanded as the Suez Canal was reopened, and with the conclusion of the peace accord with Israel and the gradual returning of occupied Sinai territory (containing oil fields), Egypt realized rapid increases in revenues from both oil production and tourism. During the 1970s and 1980s, grants and credits from the United States to Egypt totaled $15.7 billion, and assistance from the United States was $2.2 billion annually in the early 1990s.
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