In Chinese, the word “crisis” connotes both risk and opportunity, and the key distinction between the two is in how the situation will be addressed, be it by the state or by the individual.
A crisis is an exceptional situation that has an impact on people or nations. Occasionally, it may be sudden and involve the absence of reassuring days in which things are normal according to custom, habit, or a previously devised strategy.
Two threats emerge in times of crisis. First, those who are experiencing a crisis may lose sight of their current situation and abilities, or think that what is happening to them has never happened to anyone else or has never happened to them. Second, they may fail to recognize the opportunity or opportunities that are present in the situation, starting with the fact that overcoming the crisis gives people many new financial, moral, and intellectual capabilities that not only prepare them for future crises but also lift them above them.
Fortunately, there is widespread agreement in Egypt that an economic crisis -characterized by high inflation and rising prices- is exerting pressure on the Egyptian government’s internal and external relations. Was it possible to avert or lessen the negative effects of this crisis? Was the Ukrainian War’s direct impact on food, energy, supply chains, tourism, etc., a sufficient external cause?
The answers to these questions should be left to economic analysts and historians but crossing the crisis and taking advantage of the opportunities it will present are what matter most at this time, and if we fail to do so, history will hold us accountable. The fact that this crisis has affected all countries, that some are in a worse situation than we are, and that even the largest and wealthiest countries have all been hit by pain should not make us any less determined.
Egypt has certainly experienced many crises in the past, and as for our generation, they have continued unabated. From the Great Defeat in 1967 to the three years of revolution and Brotherhood rule to the fight against terrorism and the response to Covid-19, Egypt has weathered many crises, and the current economic crisis will be no different.
Perhaps what gives us a great deal of reassurance in this case is the fact that the International Monetary Fund’s report did not deviate significantly from what has been prevalent in recent Egyptian discussions and dialogues. It did not also go beyond what the state discussed in official documents and statements regarding the role of the private sector and reestablishing a balance between the roles of states and private initiatives.
The crisis has made it more urgent and more assertive that a new phase of economic reform is mandatory, or else the rule of time will be severe. In fact, the cost of time in economic conflicts is never less than the cost of blood in military conflicts; the former, however, is paid for with unrest, the stifling of growth, and the imposition of mistrust from both internal and external circles.
It is also established that Egypt is better equipped than ever to handle the current crisis, despite its many hardships, given its outstanding accomplishments in agriculture, industry, scientific research, urban modernization, and the substantial assets it has built up in preparation for achieving economic rebalancing. The prompt implementation of Egypt’s agreement with the International Monetary Fund is a result of the IMF’s high regard for the Egyptian economy’s fundamentals and its growing capabilities.
In addition, the agreement paves the way for Egypt to attract foreign aid, investments, and markets, all of which will help the country pull itself out of its current economic crisis and set the stage for a future phase of economic development that will be vastly different from the one just concluded. And if Egypt wants to create a “new republic” that fits in with its era and is more modern and advanced, then this interaction will lead to the same rapid growth seen in those instances, which weren’t without the bitter pill or the difficult treatment.
This op-ed was originally published in Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper on 15 January 2023.