Egypt and Qatar took further steps to strengthen ties after years of dispute during a visit to Doha by President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi, as the North African nation looks to lure Gulf financing for an economy hit by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The two nations signed an agreement to cooperate on ports, and El-Sisi’s office said Qatari businessmen had expressed interest in boosting investments in Egypt, which is also in talks with the International Monetary Fund for funding. Details about the pact on ports weren’t disclosed.
The trip is another milestone in mending a relationship that had soured due to Qatar’s support for the now-defunct Muslim Brotherhood government that was in power shortly after the 2011 uprising that ousted Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
The two-day visit aims to buttress assistance already received from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Gulf Arab states have pledged upward of $20 billion in aid and investments for Egypt. Qatar earlier this year deposited $3 billion in Egypt’s central bank and pledged to pump $5 billion more in investments.
Egypt Backs Flexible Pound Amid Devaluation Calls, IMF Talks
Egypt allowed its currency to sharply weaken in March as it came under pressure from the Ukraine conflict. Rising global food prices especially were a major burden for one of the world’s biggest wheat buyers.
As details of El-Sisi’s talks emerged, the Egyptian pound continued a gradual slide against the US dollar. It reached 19.4 in the offshore market, still shy of the record low hit in December 2016.
Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Bank of America Corp. estimate Egypt may need to secure a $15 billion IMF package, although Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said it’s seeking a smaller amount. Analysts have said the aid could be in the range of $3 billion to $5 billion.
The country has seen foreign outflows of about $20 billion this year after bondholders exited what had been a favorite market.