CAIRO- Foreign holdings of Egyptian treasuries stood at $17.5 billion at the close of the fiscal year at the end of June, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait told a news conference on Thursday.
The number represents a sharp drop from the end of March, when holdings stood at $23.1 billion.
"Around $3-4 billion in foreign investment in Egyptian government debt exited during the latest emerging markets crisis ... but our yields are still the best among the emerging markets," Maait said.
Egypt's short- and long-term debt yields climbed steadily between April and July as part of a broad global sell-off in emerging markets.
Bankers and economists told Reuters this month that an estimated $4-5 billion had left Egypt's debt market during the sell-off. (nL8N1U84F7)
Yields have cooled since, with 12-month yields declining at an auction on Tuesday to an average of 19.134 pct from 19.379 a week earlier. Yields also fell on three-, six-, and nine-month treasuries auctioned on Tuesday.
Egypt floated its currency in November 2016, as part of an ambitious economic reform plan tied to a $12 billion IMF loan programme aimed at boosting growth after years of turmoil drove tourists and foreign investors away.
It became one of the world's hottest destinations for portfolio investors last year after short-term yields touched 22 percent, the result of aggressive central bank rate hikes aimed at curbing inflation.
Egypt sold $7 billion in Eurobonds in 2017, returning to international markets after turmoil following the overthrow of President Hosni Mubarak in 2011.
"No decision has been made thus far over international bond issuances in 2018-2019 and there will not be any decision for another month or two," Maait said on Thursday.
Former finance minister Amr El Garhy said in April that Egypt aims to issue dollar-denominated Eurobonds worth $6-7 billion in the 2018-2019 financial year.
(Reporting by Ehab Farouk; Writing by Nadine Awadalla; Editing by Kevin Liffey) ((Nadine.Awadalla@thomsonreuters.com;))