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Egypt to Receive Boost in US Aid - 2002-01-10

Egypt has received a big boost in aid from the United States. The government of Hosni Mubarak is set to get what amounts to a bonus for efforts to reform its economy.

Egypt is about to get an almost $1 billion payment from the United States. It represents about $300 million more than the usual amount of yearly US aid to the country.

On Thursday, the director of the US Agency for International Development in Cairo, Willard Pearson, praised Egypt's devaluation of the pound and other economic reforms. He said the increased US payment "is designed to support Egypt in its economic reform efforts."

The country's economy, which has been in a downturn for years, was dealt a severe blow by the terrorist attacks in the United States In September. Tourism dollars all but vanished after the attacks; and unemployment, while officially at 7.6 percent, is widely believed to be much higher.

Speaking in Cairo, Mr. Pearson said the US welcomes recent Egyptian efforts on economic reform. Last month, Egypt devalued its currency, the pound, by more than eight percent. Currently the exchange rate is about 4.5 Egyptian pounds to the dollar.

In an effort to protect Egyptian businesses, the government last week imposed high taxes on imported clothing. At the same time the government announced a renewed commitment to create jobs.

The health of Egypt's economy is of major concern, not only to the administration of President Hosni Mubarak but to the United States as well, which views Mr. Mubarak as a dependable ally in the region.

Next month a meeting of foreign donors is expected to generate between 1.5 billion to two billion dollars for Egypt.