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Egypt keeps interest rates unchanged to start 2023

Inflation in Egypt was on the rise at the end of 2022, with food prices being of particular concern.
A peddler sells roasted corn cobs by the medieval Sultan al-Ghuri Complex in the Azhar district of Cairo.

The Central Bank of Egypt decided Thursday to keep its interest rates unchanged. 

The bank’s Monetary Policy Committee said they will leave four of their key policy rates as they are in order to “assess the impact” of last year’s rate hikes, saying that the effects of such actions tend to “lag.” The committee acknowledged that inflation is still present in Egypt and worldwide, according to a press release. 

Why it matters: Inflation is rising in Egypt, as it is in other parts of the region. Annual headline inflation rose to 21.9% in December, up from 19.2% the month prior. The Egyptian government attributed the December rise to the prices of food, water, gas, electricity, housing, health insurance and more. 

The Monetary Policy Committee noted the rising inflation in December in its press release. 

Food prices in particular are rising in Egypt. A January poll from Al-Monitor and Premise found that the majority of Egyptians are concerned about their access to food. Amr Emam reported for Al-Monitor from Giza last month on the effects of rising food prices on Egyptians

The Central Bank of Egypt raised interest rates in December. The bank raised rates a few times throughout 2022. 

Thursday’s interest rates decision is the Central Bank’s first since the International Monetary Fund (IMF) agreed in December to provide Egypt with a $3 billion loan. Egyptian President Abdel Fatal al-Sisi approved a sweeping privatization strategy following the agreement, Marc Espanol reported for Al-Monitor at the time. 

Know more: The central banks of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain raised their interest rates Wednesday after the US Federal Reserve did the same, while Qatar kept its rates unchanged. 

The Egyptian Central Bank follows its own schedule for determining interest rates and does not directly follow the Fed.

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