Egypt traders play down unrest impact, call for credible elections

22 November 2011 17:04  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--As protesters continue to clash with security forces near Tahrir Square in Egypt, traders in the country remain confident the impact of the disturbances on the local polymer trade has so far been minimal, sources said on Tuesday.

A regular buyer of polypropylene (PP), who sells household appliances, said: “The problem is only at the centre, at Tahrir Square. The media is exaggerating a bit: there are a few hundreds, thousands even, but life is going on.

“Of course, the nearby shops are affected, but all other shops are open and working,” the source added.

An Egyptian PP producer agreed, saying: "[The protest] has only been a few days, and it is concentrated in a small area.”.

Most are quick to add, however, that a democratically held election is vital for trade. Most had been looking forward since earlier in the year to the elections in November, which they were expecting to prompt growth in the PE/PP market.

But the fresh protests have highlighted the uncertainty surrounding elections due to be held next week, sources said.

The political turmoil in Egypt has already resulted in slow growth for the region this year. The conflict in Libya and Egypt will slow economic growth in northern Africa to 0.7% in 2011, compared with 4.7% in 2010, according to the African Development Bank.

“[We] need to leave work early at 2.00pm,” said a polyethylene (PE) supplier. "People are fearful about their future."

There are currency concerns for traders involved in import/export, the source added. "The dollar is selling at Egyptian pounds 6.10 in the black market."

As an upside, some local plastic manufacturers are trying to stock up on product, said the supplier, but it cautioned against seeing this as a sign of improved demand.

“It's difficult to judge if it is a good market or a bad market,” the PE supplier said. "Because people are afraid, they are not buying because demand is good, but to build stock.

Most other suppliers maintained that demand for PE and PP continues to be sluggish in Egypt.

Egypt has local producers for both PE and PP. It it is also an importer of both products.

By: Cuckoo James
+44 (0) 208 652 3214

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