© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A view of the city skyline and River Nile from Cairo tower building in the capital of Cairo, Egypt December 5, 2019. REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh/File Photo
CAIRO (Reuters) – Egypt’s net external debt climbed by $8.1 billion in the fourth quarter of 2021, central bank data showed on Sunday. Egypt had been increasing its borrowing to plug current account and budget deficits even before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February and the first U.S. Federal Reserve rate hike in March, analysts say. Fed hikes have put pressure on Egypt to raise its own interest rates, pushing borrowing costs higher, and the Ukrainian crisis has increased the cost of imported commodities and cut into tourism revenue. Egypt has raised its benchmark overnight interest rates by three percentage points since March.
Egypt’s total external debt rose to $145.5 billion at the end of December from $137.4 billion as of the end of September, the central bank data showed. Foreign debt was equivalent to 33.2% of gross domestic product at the end of December, up from 32.6% at the end of September, the data showed.