Egypt’s foreign reserves fell to $13.6 billion at the end of January from $15.01 billion the previous month, the central bank said on Tuesday, despite a mid-month currency deposit by Qatar to support the ailing economy.
The central bank adopted currency controls to try to stem a fall in reserves, which have tumbled from $36 billion before the uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak in early 2011.
The Qatari deposit, the size of which was not disclosed, had raised the reserves to $15.5 billion, Finance Minister Al Mursi Al Sayed Hegazi said on January 19.
Qatar had previously said it had lent Egypt $2 billion and given it $500 million outright to help support the country through the political turmoil and violence that has scared away investors.
The minister said the reserves should rise further after the approval of a draft law allowing Egypt to issue sovereign Islamic bonds, known as sukuk.
Egypt is also negotiating with the International Monetary Fund, but talks have stalled because of the government’s delay in implementing the economic reforms the fund has demanded as a condition for a $4.8 billion loan.
An IMF team is due back in Cairo for more talks in coming weeks.
The central bank has said reserves have reached a critical level. At $15 billion, they cover roughly three months of imports.