Egypt is a developing country that faces a number of economic problems, such as that of foreign debt, which arises out of the cost of its imports being in excess of its income from exports. Service Industries have become increasingly important to the Egyptian economy, many Egyptians work in such services as banking, government, and trade, as well as communication, education, and transportation. Food processing and textile production are among the most important industries in Egypt, apart from cement, chemicals, fertilizers, motor vehicles, and steel. Cairo and Alexandria are the leading manufacturing centers of Egypt. Egypt has about six and a half million acres (2.6 million hectares) of farmland, situated mostly along the Nile, and primarily under private ownership. About 70 percent of Egypt’s farms are 1 acre (0.4 hectare) or less in area. Cotton is Egypt's most valuable cash crop, as the country is a world leader in the production, of high quality long-staple (long-fibered) cotton, which is known for its strength and durability. Important crops of Egypt include corn, potatoes, rice, sugar cane, tomatoes and wheat. The most important fruits grown in Egypt include apples, bananas, grapes, oranges and other citrus fruits, and watermelons. Egypt leads the world in the production of dates, which are cultivated mainly in the desert oases. Livestock including goats and sheep are raised for meat, milk, and wool. Cattle and water buffaloes are kept chiefly as work animals, though they also provide some milk.

Egypt's most important minerals are petroleum and natural gas, apart from iron ore, manganese, and phosphate rock. Egypt imports more goods than it exports, which has led to foreign debt. The major imports of Egypt include food, machinery, and transportation equipment with its major suppliers being China, France, Germany, Italy, and the United States. Egyptian exports include cotton fibers and products, fruits, and petroleum, which are chiefly marketed to India, Italy, and the United States. Alexandria, on the Mediterranean Sea, ranks as Egypt's leading port, with two other key ports, Port Said and Suez, lying on the Suez Canal.