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Egypt’s pound weakened to a record low as the government seeks to clinch a loan from the International Monetary Fund. 

The pound slipped 0.2% to 19.6736 against the dollar in the offshore market on Tuesday, surpassing the record low of 19.6725 reached in December 2016, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. 

Some of the world’s biggest banks have said the Egyptian pound is still too expensive and the IMF would demand a looser exchange rate -- even after the central bank devalued it by about 15% in March. The government has already conceded a more flexible currency is necessary to support the economy.

While a rally in the dollar has weighed on the currencies of Egypt’s trading partners and other developing peers, energy and food shocks from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have also strained the North African nation’s finances.

Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told Bloomberg in September that Egypt hopes to reach an IMF deal within one or two months, although the loan amount is yet to be determined. Egypt has also secured pledges of more than $22 billion in deposits and investments from its wealthy Gulf Arab allies, and possible financing from Japan and China is also on the table.

In 2016, the government agreed to a $12 billion IMF program and devalued the currency, committing to measures that burnished its appeal for foreign investors. Drawn to Egypt’s high interest rates, a stable pound and its track record of market-friendly moves, foreigners had pumped billions of dollars into its debt market.

But price pressures have by now pushed the nation’s inflation-adjusted rates below zero, just as central banks elsewhere tighten policy. Egypt has seen $22 billion in outflows from the local debt market since March.

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