Foreign reserves rise $113M in March: CBE
Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt Hisham Ramez - YOUM7 (Archive)

CAIRO: Egypt’s foreign reserves edged up $113 million to register $17.420 billion at the end of March, compared to $17.307 billion in February, announced Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt Hisham Ramez late Tuesday.

Egypt’s foreign reserves steadily declined in the wake of the political and economical turmoil following the January 25 Revolution which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, with an average of $13.5 billion in 2013, compared to an average of $36 billion before 2011 .

Foreign reserves improved due to the $12 billion aid pledged to Egypt by the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait following the ouster of President Mohamed Morsi on July 3.

The government should encourage importing products of added valued rather than importing raw materials, fruits and vegetables amid rising local prices, Ramez added in an interview with  CBC channel late Tuesday.

Ramez told reporters after meeting with Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahab two weeks ago that the foreign reserves would continue growing despite continued political and economic turmoil.

In February, foreign reserves witnessed an increase of U.S. $202 million, totaling $17.307 billion, compared to $17.105 billion in January, the CBE announced early last month.

Early in December, CBE paid back a U.S. $500 million deposit from Qatar after the Gulf State requested to postpone the conversion of the funds to bonds as previously agreed.

Doha deposited $1 billion in late 2012 in the CBE, and the money was scheduled to be paid back in two installments. The CBE transferred U.S. $500 million to Qatar on Nov. 1 as the first installment.

The foreign reserves consist of the main international currencies: the U.S. dollar, the euro, the British pound, and the Japanese yen. The foreign reserve allows the government to purchase basic commodities such wheat and petroleum products, and pay off premiums and interest on foreign debts.

The currency basket changes on the basis of currencies’ exchange rate and stability in the global markets, according to a plan prepared by CBE officials.

In the wake of Morsi’s ouster, the UAE deposited $2 billion in the Central Bank and $1 billion as a non-refundable grant. Saudi Arabia deposited $2 billion in the Central Bank, $1 billion in cash and $2 billion in petroleum aid, while Kuwait deposited $2 billion in the bank, with $1 billion in petroleum aid and $1 billion as a non-refundable grant.

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