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Inflation hits 33.9% in Egypt as food prices surge

Egypt’s Central Bank continues to raise interest rates amid surging inflation, but past rate hikes have failed to alleviate the situation.
A pedlar sells roasted corn cobs by the medieval Sultan al-Ghuri Complex (built in 1505) in the Azhar district of Egypt's capital Cairo on January 16, 2023. (Photo by Khaled DESOUKI / AFP) (Photo by KHALED DESOUKI/AFP via Getty Images)

Inflation in Egypt increased considerably in March, hitting 33.9%, the Egyptian government said on Monday. The increase exceeded that of the previous month and follows the Egyptian Central Bank raising interest rates to no avail. 

Annual headline inflation nearly tripled year-on-year, from 12.1% in March of 2022. Inflation is largely being driven by rising food prices. Food and beverage prices increased 62.7% on the year during March, according to the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics. 

Why it matters: Inflation has been significantly rising in Egypt for more than a year. In February, annual headline inflation increased to 32.9%. March’s figures thus indicate a worsening situation. 

The rising inflation comes amid the Central Bank of Egypt raising interest rates by 2% in late March, in addition to several rate hikes throughout 2022. Some economists have questioned Egypt’s recent interest rate hikes due to the failure of past ones to curb inflation, Amr Emam reported for Al-Monitor this week. 

Raising interest rates itself can have adverse effects due to the pressure it puts on the financial system. 

What’s next: The Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet again May 18.

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