The Importance of Providing U.S. Food Aid during Egypt’s Ongoing Political Crisis

The ongoing political crisis in Egypt has an economic foundation. Long-standing economic weaknesses have contributed to economic stagnation and high unemployment. To ease discontent, the government has heavily subsidized a number of essential commodities, including food and fuel. Given the fact that Egypt relies heavily on imports for key commodities, foreign exchange reserves—already hit by lower tourism revenue during the recent instability—have declined sharply. If the government is forced to cut these subsidies abruptly, already disruptive political tensions will be augmented by food riots. The U.S. can and should provide food assistance as a short-term solution. However, Egypt’s long-term economic stability requires fundamental economic reforms to install a more market-oriented economy backed by the rule of law.

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