Egypt's inflation drops again in March, continues decline

CAIRO — Egypt's inflation rate dropped to 13.1 percent in March, the month of the country's presidential election, from 14.4 percent in February, the country's official statistics agency said Tuesday.

The drop continues a decline since inflation peaked last summer, hovering around 30 percent after the government cut fuel and electricity subsidies. The inflation rate in March 2017 was 32.5 percent.

The latest figures, announced by the state-run Central Agency for Mobilization and Statistics, showed that inflation was at 13.3 percent in urban areas and 12.9 percent in rural areas in Egypt in March, when President Abdel Fatah el-Sissi won a second, four-year term in office with more than 97 percent of the vote.

The figures showed the initial shock of floating the national currency and slashing subsidies is fading. The government expects the annual inflation to be around 13 percent in 2018.

In November 2016, Egypt under el-Sissi took an unprecedented step of floating the national currency and hiking fuel prices, to meet key demands by the International Monetary Fund under a $12 billion loan agreement to overhaul the ailing economy of the most populous Arab state.

The tough measures caused prices of basic goods to spike, hitting poor and middle class Egyptians especially hard. Previous Egyptian governments had been reluctant to touch the subsidies, fearing that any cuts could spark street protests. However, a heavy crackdown on dissent and a ban on unauthorized protests have left few outlets for expressing public anger.

Egypt's economic troubles began with the 2011 popular uprising that toppled autocrat Hosni Mubarak. The turmoil and violence that followed, including a stepped-up militant insurgency, have weakened the economy, scaring away investors and foreign tourists and unleashing a wave of industrial unrest.

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This story has been corrected to show that March inflation in Egypt dropped to 13.1 percent, not 13.3 percent.

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