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US Treasury Secretary pledges support for Egypt amid IMF loan talks

January 10, 2024 at 9:05 am

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen makes statements to the press at Johns Hopkins University on the economic relations between the United States and China [Celal Güneş – Anadolu Agency]

US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen pledged America’s support for Egypt’s economy and reforms after meeting with the North African nation’s authorities on Tuesday in Washington, Reuters has reported. The pledge comes amid talks over expanding Egypt’s $3 billion International Monetary Fund loan programme.

Egyptian officials, including the country’s finance minister and central bank governor, were also due to meet with IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva during their visit to Washington, an IMF spokesperson said. No further details were provided.

The high-level meetings come as US Secretary of State Antony Blinken visits the Middle East and works to prevent the Israel-Gaza war from expanding into a wider regional conflict.

Georgieva told Reuters in November that the IMF was “seriously considering” augmenting Egypt’s $3 billion loan programme as the country struggles with the economic impact of Israel’s military offensive against the Palestinians in Gaza. Already facing high foreign debt levels, Egypt has been hit hard by the Israeli offensive in the neighbouring Palestinian territory, which threatens to disrupt tourism bookings and natural gas imports. Moreover, recent attacks on shipping in the Red Sea have had a major impact on traffic through the Suez Canal.

A statement from the US Treasury said that Yellen discussed challenges to Egypt from what has been described as Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians in Gaza during her meeting with Egyptian Finance Minister Mohamed Maait, Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat, and Central Bank of Egypt Governor Hassan Abdalla. “Secretary Yellen underscored strong United States support for Egypt and its economic reform programme. She underscored the goal of bolstering Egypt’s economy and supporting inclusive, sustainable growth,” said the Treasury.

Egypt’s $3 billion loan programme agreed with the IMF in December 2022 faltered after the North African country failed to let its currency float freely or make progress on the sale of state assets. The IMF, in which the US is the largest shareholder, delayed disbursements of about $700 million expected in 2023, but in December said it was in talks to expand the $3 billion programme given the economic risk from the catastrophic events in Gaza.

A spokesperson for Egypt’s embassy in Washington could not be reached by Reuters for a comment.

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