Workshop Report

Project: Middle East and North Africa Programme

Chatham House

Download the paper in Arabic العربية

This report is a summary of a workshop held in Cairo on 29 September 2011. The event brought together a specialised group of economists, business people, political activists, and journalists. Part of Chatham House's Egypt Dialogue project, the workshop focused on the role of international loans and capital in Egypt's economy, particularly the role of funding from the IMF, World Bank and other international financial institutions.

Key findings:

  • Widespread distrust of the motivations of foreign lenders reflects a perception that international financial institutions lavished praise on the economic policies of the previous government, despite rising poverty and inequality during this period. 
  • This legacy of distrust has left many sceptical about the proposed IMF loan, despite there being little awareness of the specific terms under which it has been offered. This has been compounded by a lack of communication on the part of the IMF. 
  • It is difficult to verify and track the use of public funds. As a result, there are calls for international agencies and governments to prioritise transparency in their financial dealings. This will allow for increased understanding and trust in the role of government, and of foreign loans and capital.  
  • The impact of financial assistance from the both the West and the Gulf are seen as cause for concern. Participants questioned the motivations and priorities of these funders, emphasising the potential for this aid to distort the dynamics of local civil society. 
Project: Egypt in Transition

Also read:

Egypt's Economy in the Transitional PeriodWorkshop Report, September 2011