Egypt's effort to industrialize the country started in the 19th century, under Muhammed Ali, the then ruler. Though machines and technology were imported, often at a high cost, local industries gradually developed and by World War 1, textile industries had gained a strong foothold. At present, Egypt's industries include the production of cement, iron and steel, chemicals, fertilizers, tobacco, canned foods, rubber products, refined sugar, cottonseed oil, small metal products, shoes and furniture. Mining has also emerged as a vital industry in the last 20 years with products like crude petroleum, salt, phosphate, iron and manganese.
In the last 30 years a lot of reformation has been made to the highly centralized economy inherited from President Nasser. Though the rate of structural reforms, for instance privatization and new business legislation, has been slower than the IMF envisioned, Egypt's steps toward a more market-oriented economy have encouraged increased foreign investment. It has made substantial progress in growing its legal, tax and investment infrastructure. In 2005 personal, corporate tax rates and energy subsides were reduced and several enterprises privatized by Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif.
Egypt has been rated as one of the top countries in the world undertaking economic reforms by the IMF in their annual report. Some of the steps taken by the government include a dramatic slashing of customs and tariffs, a new taxation law implemented in 2005 that decreases corporate taxes from 40% to the current 20%, resulted to the stated 100% increase in tax revenue by the year 2006. Foreign Direct Investment into Egypt has also increased considerably in the past few years making Egypt the highest earner of FDI on the African continent in 2008. The stock market boomed, with the GDP rising about 5% per year in 2005-06. Even with these achievements, the government has failed to raise the standard of living for the average Egyptians, and has had to continue providing subsidies for basic necessities.
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- GDP (purchasing power parity): $328.1 billion (2006 est.)
- GDP (official exchange rate): $84.51 billion (2006 est.)
- GDP - real growth rate: 5.7% (2006 est.)
- GDP - per capita (PPP): $4,200 (2006 est.)
- GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 14.7%
services: 49.8% (2006 est.)
- Labor force: 21.8 million (2006 est.)
- Investment (gross fixed): 19.2% of GDP (2006 est.)
- Public debt: 102.9% of GDP (2006 est.)
- Industrial production growth rate: 5.1% (2006 est.)
- Exports: $24.22 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
- Imports: $35.86 billion f.o.b. (2006 est.)
- Reserves of foreign exchange and gold: $26.3 billion (2006 est.)
- Debt - external: $29.59 billion (30 June 2006 est.)
- Fiscal year: 1 July - 30 June