BEIRUT: Egypt’s economic growth for the calendar year of 2010 will reach 6 percent, the country’s trade and industry minister said on Thursday.
Rachid Mohamed Rachid also said the economy of the largest Arab country would grow to 5.4 percent in fiscal year 2009/2010, in line with estimates by other Egyptian officials.
"Fiscal year 2009/2010 we’ll get to 5.4 (percent) maybe, but the calendar year 2010 we’ll get to 6 percent, that’s my expectation," Rachid told Reuters in Beirut.
"First quarter January-March was very positive … it gave us confidence that we’ll cross 6 percent during this year and that’s what I’m expecting," he said.
On Tuesday, the investment minister said the country would grow by 5 percent to 5.5 percent in fiscal year 2009/2010, which ends on June 30.
A Reuters poll showed on Thursday that the country’s economic growth is seen edging up over the next two years as the most populous Arab country continues to outperform many other regional states.
The Egyptian economy has benefited from more than five years of tariff cuts, sale of state companies, the liberalization of investment regulations, among other reforms.
Rachid also told Reuters unemployment in 2010 would be between 9-10 percent. Economists have said 6 percent plus is needed to create enough jobs for its growing workforce and to alleviate poverty.
Rachid was in Beirut as part of an Egyptian delegation headed by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif during which 18 agreements, from establishing regular air routes to cooperation between the Egyptian and Lebanese stock exchanges, were signed.
Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri said he hoped trade between the two countries would reach $2 billion within a few years. Trade between Egypt and Lebanon now stands at $500 million.
"We are working to reach this amount through the agreements which we signed today and which facilitate investment procedures between the two countries," Hariri said.