July 25, 2018 / 4:09 PM / 24 days ago

Egypt's economy grows 5.3 percent, highest in 10 years: minister

CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt’s gross domestic product grew by 5.3 percent in the 2017-18 fiscal year ending in June, the highest rate in 10 years, Planning Minister Hala al-Saeed said on Wednesday, in a further sign of recovery amid tough reforms and an IMF loan.

Finance Minister Mohamed Maait also said in a statement the country’s budget deficit had fallen below 10 percent for the first time since 2011, but gave no precise figures.

Egypt’s economy has been battered by years of turmoil that began after mass protests in 2011 forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

But the country has been showing signs of recovery in recent months amid tough reforms including cuts to energy subsidies implemented by the government of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as part of a $12 billion IMF loan agreement aimed at luring back foreign investments.

Saeed said non-oil exports grew in the fiscal year that ended in June by 12.3 percent to around $24.1 billion.

She added that the balance of payments had achieved a surplus of around $11 billion during the first nine months of the fiscal year, attributing that to an 18 percent growth in commodities exports and to growth in the service sector and foreign remittances.

But a survey by Emirates NBD said Egypt’s non-oil private-sector business activity has been in contraction for months, with reductions in output and new orders despite a slight improvement in June.

Egypt has forecast a 9.8 percent deficit for the fiscal year that ended in June. The country targets a deficit of 8.4 percent in the fiscal year to June 2019.

Reporting by Ehab Farouk, writing by Sami Aboudi; editing by John Stonestreet and Alexandra Hudson

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