Economy: On taking power in 1952, President Nasser quickly instituted a Soviet-style command economy that was closed to Western investment. After Nasserís death, his successor, Anwar Sadat, gradually dismantled the existing system in favour of a policy of infitah (openness) towards investment. Egyptís economy underwent rapid growth during the 1970s with the swift expansion of the oil industry, tourism and the Suez Canal. During the 1990s stern fiscal policies, agreed with the IMF and World Bank, and further market-oriented measures brought the Egyptian economy to its current condition. As of mid-2003 annual growth has fallen to under 3 per cent, inflation was about 2 per cent while official unemployment was 12 per cent (although there is considerable under-employment). Egyptís major industries are textiles, fertilisers, rubber products and cement. There are also steel production works and several vehicle-assembly plants. The main crops are cotton, rice, wheat, sugar, maize and a range of fruit and vegetables. Egyptís major trading partners are the USA and the major EU economies (especially Italy and Germany). Expansion of the tourist sector was briefly hampered by the activities of Islamic fundamentalists. Agriculture, which relies on irrigation from the Nile, employs one-third of the working population. Foreign aid, especially from the USA, is an important source of government funds. Commercial Information: The following organisations can offer advice: Egyptian-British Chamber of Commerce, PO Box 4EG, 4th Floor, 299 Oxford Street, London W1A 4EG, UK (tel: (020) 7499 3100; fax: (020) 7499 1070; e-mail: email@example.com; website: www.theebcc.com); or Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce, 4 Midan el-Falaky Square, Cairo (tel: (2) 795 1136; fax: (2) 795 7940); or Cairo Chamber of Commerce (address as for the Federation; tel: (2) 354 2943; fax: (2) 355 7940). Conferences/Conventions: Cairo has many hotels and three large meeting halls (seating up to 2000 people) which are equipped for use as conference centres. The new Cairo International Conference Centre, 12km (7 miles) east of Cairo International Airport, has seating for 2500 people, with an exhibition hall, banquet hall and comprehensive facilities. There is also a new convention centre at Alexandria University, which has a main hall with seating for 2400. For more information on conference facilities in Egypt, contact the Egyptian State Tourist Office (see Contact Addresses section); or Cairo International Conference and Exhibition Centre, Nasr Road, Nasr City, Cairo (tel: (2) 263 4631 or 263 4632; fax: (2) 263 4640; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; website: www.cicc.egnet.net); or Egyptian General Company for Tourism and Hotels, 6th floor, 4 Latin America Street, Garden City, Cairo (tel: (2) 795 7867 or 795 0603; fax: (2) 796 4830).
GDP: US$158.3 billion (2008). Main imports: Machinery and equipment, food, chemicals, wood products and fuels. Main exports: Crude oil, petroleum products, cotton, textiles and metal products. Main trade partners: USA, Italy, China, Spain and Syria.