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Egypt’s Suez Canal earnings top $5 billion for 2011

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Egypt’s Suez Canal Authority earned 5.22 billion dollars in revenues last year, almost half a billion dollars more than the previous year, its chairman said on Sunday.

Ahmad Fadel told reporters that revenues for 2011 increased by 456 million dollars compared with the previous year.

The rise came despite a 1.1 percent drop in the number of ships that passed through the canal to 17,799 vessels in 2011 compared with the previous year, Fadel said, without providing a reason.

Along with tourism and remittances from workers abroad, the canal is one of Egypt’s key revenue earners.

Later Sunday, Egypt was to issue its 2012 tourist sector outlook and give final data for last year, which saw a slump in arrivals amid an uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak.

And a delegation from the International Monetary Fund begins a visit to Egypt on Sunday at Cairo's request to launch talks on helping shore up the economy, which took a beating during last year's unrest.

According to the central bank, foreign reserves in Egypt have fallen to 18 billion dollars from 36 billion dollars at the beginning of the year.