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Egyptian economy still chugging along amid protests

Julia Simon Nov 28, 2011

Steve Chiotakis: Egyptians began voting today in the first phase of parliamentary elections. The country’s been in economic turmoil since Hosni Mubarak was booted from office earlier this year.

But in some parts of Cairo, reporter Julia Simon says, it’s business as usual.

Julia Simon: In the area of Shubra in northern Cairo, a boulevard lined with factories has continued to spurt smoke all throughout the Arab Spring. Despite the violence just a half-hour away in Tahrir Square, tens-of-thousands of Egyptians show up here every day for work — as they have been all this year.

Haisam El Said: Everything in Egypt is same before, nothing change.

Haisam El Said is the production manager of a clothing factory in Shubra. The factory makes inexpensive clothes that sell in stores in the U.S. Egypt’s GDP is about the size of Louisiana’s, and while the country’s economy has slowed to a 1 percent growth rate since Mubarak’s ouster, the unrest downtown against the army doesn’t mean people aren’t going to work. El Said says it’s important to remember, Tahrir isn’t Egypt.

El Said: Maybe I’m not happy with all things that happen in Tahrir Square because I don’t like foreigners to hear that we have a problem in Egypt.

The latest instability closed the Egyptian stock market last week, but it hasn’t scared off all investors. Just last week, General Motors announced that it plans to open a car assembly factory in Egypt starting in 2012. And because he exports to America, El Said says he’s just as worried about the U.S. economy as he is about Egypt’s.

In Cairo, I’m Julia Simon for Marketplace.

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