Thursday, 5 August 2021

EnterprisePM — Central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee expected to keep rates on hold today

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TONIGHT

It’s been a busy end to an uncharacteristically busy week in August, which usually sees local and international news slow down for the summer. So if you’ve been busy all week, give yourselves a pat on the back and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- It’s interest rate day, as the central bank’s Monetary Policy Committee is meeting today to decide on interest rates. Expectations are high that the CBE will err on the side of caution and hold interest rates amid global inflationary pressures. All 12 analysts we’ve surveyed expect the central bank to leave interest rates unchanged for the sixth consecutive time. Ditto Bloomberg, whose 11 surveyed analysts also see interest rates unchanged.

Inflation, inflation, inflation: Egypt so far has largely been insulated from the inflationary pressures, with inflation barely moving from 4.3% in January, with the headline urban rate inching up only 60 bps to 4.9% in June, remaining below the lower-bound of the central bank’s 7% (±2%) target range. However, the situation globally has policy makers jittery. Policymakers need to pre-empt heightened food prices stoked by rising international commodity prices, Beltone’s director of macro and strategy Alia Mamdouh told us. Add to that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s call on Tuesday that the price for subsidized bread needs to be increased. Inflation figures for July should be out next Tuesday.

The other consideration is, of course, the carry trade. Egypt still has the highest real interest rates among more than 50 economies tracked by Bloomberg. “That ranking has helped raise foreign holdings in Egyptian debt to more than USD 28 bn, important funding while the tourism industry awaits full recovery from the coronavirus pandemic,” the newswire says. However, other emerging-market peers such as Russia, Brazil and Ukraine are tightening policy, potentially competing with Egypt’s debt. Analysts, however, including Simon Williams, HSBC’s chief economist for Central & Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa, see no need for Egypt to do the same, according to Bloomberg.

The MPC’s decision should be out by 6pm CLT today. We will have detailed coverage on the decision in Sunday’s EnterpriseAM.


** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:

  • J&J vaccines coming in next week: Egypt will next week receive its first shipment of Johnson & Johnson vaccines, but individuals who have already received a vaccine dose will not be privy to the traveler-approved jab.
  • Dormant bank accounts get new life breathed into them: Egyptian banks will have much less leeway to close dormant accounts under new policies from the Central Bank of Egypt, requiring banks to notify customers with inactive accounts three months before freezing them.
  • Speed Medical to list on DFM in 4Q2021: Speed Medical expects to list on the Dubai Financial Market (DFM) in 4Q2021, with plans to complete regulatory requirements in Egypt and Dubai within the next few weeks.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- Monetary policy remains the big story of global markets, as speculation is rife on when the US Federal Reserve might begin stimulus tapering. That speculation only seems to have intensified following this morning’s announcement from the US Treasury Department that it might begin cutting the size of government debt sales in the fall, as funding needs for covid economic relief is reduced. This would be the first reduction undertaken by the US Treasury in five years, notes the FT. Should the tapering begin, it is anticipated that the reduction in supply of US debt will keep yields steady, notes the salmon-colored paper.

This should keep carry traders on our side of the fence: The Treasury Department announcement comes as the value of the global stock of negative interest rate debt has ballooned to more than USD 16.5 tn — the highest in six months. “While some of the biggest moves have come in the US Treasury market as traders unwind their bearish bets, bonds in Japan and the eurozone — the two main bastions of negative-yielding debt — have also benefited,” notes Tommy Stubbington in the FT. Lower yields in these economies should keep carry traders’ eyes firmly on EMs, and with Egypt showing the highest real interest rate, keep us among the most attractive of EMs.

🗓 CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Euromoney Conferences is organizing a two-day virtual conference from 7-8 September to talk sustainable finance and investment. Titled “GlobalCapital Sustainable and Responsible Capital Markets Forum,” the online event will feature on day one Vice Minister of Finance Minister Ahmed Kouchouk, who will participate in a live panel discussion on green sovereign bonds. You can register for the webinar here.

The Dokki Book Fair will be held from 5-10 August at the Ebda3 Villa, boasting 1 mn books on sale at this year’s event.

Inflation: Inflation data for July will be out on Tuesday, 10 August.

🚙 FOR YOUR COMMUTE-

SPACs are on the hunt for EM prospects: SPACs have been increasingly looking to emerging markets for companies to merge with, with the number of special-purpose acquisition companies hunting for companies in Asia, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and MENA growing at a faster clip than their conventional counterparts, according to The Wall Street Journal’s analysis of data from SPAC Research. 60 new SPACs focused on emerging markets filed documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1H2021, almost triple the number for all of 2020, while the number of non-emerging-market SPACs grew by about 67% to 515 over the same period.

What countries are gaining traction? The Wall Street Journal names Brazil, Israel and Turkey as hotspots for SPAC mergers, in addition to a number of Asian based companies.

Notably absent from the analysis is Egypt, as mass transportation startup Swvl could soon go public through a merger with US SPAC Queen’s Gambit Growth Capital (a story broken by the WSJ ironically). The move could see the company arguably become the MENA region’s first unicorn and subscriptions to the transaction sees it valued at USD 1.5 bn.


The US is expected to call for half of all vehicles sold in the country to be clean by 2030, Bloomberg Green reports citing senior administration officials and a White House fact sheet. The ambitious goal aims to put more battery-electric, plug-in hybrid or fuel cell-powered vehicles on the streets in the coming years and to urge car makers to invest more into manufacturing them. However, the potential statements were met with reciprocating calls to the government to increase infrastructure spending on EV charging stations nationwide to meet the increased supply of vehicles, especially after it cut the expected spending in half recently.

📺 ON THE TUBE TONIGHT-

OSN’s Beirut Blast: The Story of Warehouse 12 is a documentary retelling the events of last year’s explosion. Through 30 interviews and closeup footage of the event and aftermath, the day is pieced together. The documentary also explores how the incredibly dangerous stock of lethal explosive ammonium nitrate was mysteriously held in the port for seven years — a clear case of government negligence. Beirut Blast shows the emotional side of recent history, with interviewees who felt the situation is reminiscent of the civil war and others who lost homes, loved ones, and hope. You can check out the trailer here (watch, runtime: 00:45).

🏅 TODAY IN THE TOKYO OLYMPICS-

Egypt’s handball team will be meeting Spain on Saturday at 10am to compete for the bronze medal. The Pharaohs had a strong run for the gold, but lost 23-27 to France in the semifinals today.

Wrestler Diaaeldin Gouda Abdelmottaleb will play for the bronze after losing to Geno Petriashvili of Georgia in the men's freestyle 125kg round of 16 event, but qualifying to the bronze medal round after his opponent made it to the final.

Wrestler Amr Reda Hussen could be in the same position after reaching the round of eight in the men's freestyle 74kg and losing to Khazakhstan’s Daniyar Kaisanov. If Kaisanov reahces the finals, Hussen will have a shot at bronze.

Mostafa Amr Hassan claimed 8th place in the men’s shot put finals.

Haydy Morsy finished in 11th place in the fencing ranking round of the women's pentathlon, while Amira Kandil came in 19th. They duo will play a bonus round tomorrow.

Ahmed ElGendy placed 15th in the fencing ranking round of the men’s pentathlon and Ahmed Hamed snagged 21st place.

Karate fighter Ali El Sawy isn’t going to the semis after coming in third place in Group A after four matches today, while the first two advance to the next round.

Karate fighter Radwa Sayed is out of the Olympics after coming in 5th in the women's kumite 55kg Pool B elimination round.

WHAT TO WATCH tonight and tomorrow-

  • 3:20am: Habiba Marzouk is competing in the women's rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around qualification round.
  • 6:02am: Giana Farouk has four matches to play in the women’s karate kumite 61kg elimination round.
  • 7:30: Amira Kandil and Haydy Morsy are up in the women’s modern pentathlon, competing in three rounds tomorrow.
  • 8:00am: Mohab Mohymen Ishak will compete in the men’s diving 10m platform preliminary round.
  • 10:07am: Abdalla Abdelaziz will play four matches in the men’s karate kumite 75kg elimination round.
  • 12:30am: Egypt’s women artistic swimming team will compete in the finals.

🍤 EAT THIS TONIGHT-

Seafood by the sea: Flip is next up in our coverage of Sahel foods you need to try this summer. Specializing in seafood burgers, salad bowls, and wraps, Flip offers a healthy and delicious option to snack on by the beach. Their salmon teriyaki burger and crispy shrimp burger are fan favorites and are great to pair with sweet potato fries. You can also grab one of their light salmon wraps or colorful salads for those who care about their beach bodies. That doesn’t mean they don’t offer sweet delights such as their honey fritters with vanilla soft serve or a fried bites treat of poppin shrimp. You can find them at Stella Sidi Abdelrahman and Hacienda White.

🎤 OUT AND ABOUT-

Zawya Cinema is screening several interesting films and docs this week, including Gaza Mon Amour, The Man Who Sold His Skin, Another Round, and Lift Like a Girl. You can check out their schedule here.

Attend an expressive arts workshop in Sahel by art therapy MA student Nour Elbeblawy. The one day workshop aims to give participants an idea of how different art practices can be used for self expression and self regulation, exploring visual arts, dance and movement, voice and storytelling. The event will be held on 13 August and 20 August at North Coasts’s Beitna 21.

💡 UNDER THE LAMPLIGHT-

The story behind the Abraaj fraud: Private Equity investor Arif Naqvi was not only good at what he did, running Dubai-based Abraaj for years, he was also highly respected by leaders worldwide. From speaking alongside Bill Gates at Davos, winning the support of former President Barack Obama’s administration, and even being considered for a leadership role in his native Pakistan, the world would have never expected the events to come. The Key Man by Simon Clark and Will Louch explores the Abraaj debacle that shook the finance industry, calling it “the true story of how the global elite was duped by a capitalist fairy tale.” In 2019, Naqvi was accused of playing a role in a multi-mn USD fraud, where his firm posted returns that were “fictional”. If found guilty, he faces up to 291 years in jail. The Financial Times is a fan of the book, writing up a great review.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- Cairo weather is peaking this weekend, with 43°C and 44°C highs on Friday and Saturday that fall to 27°C and 26°C at night, according to our favorite weather app. Meanwhile, Sahel is at 36°C and 34°C on Friday and Saturday, with the mercury falling to 24-25°C at night.

SPEED ROUND: TAXATION

The ACI carrot

Finance Ministry rolls out new financial incentives for registering for the ACI: In a bid to incentivize importers, multinationals, and foreign companies selling goods to Egypt through seaports to register during the ACI’s pilot phase, companies that register to join Egypt’s Advance Cargo Information (ACI) website Nafeza in August will get 50% off registration fees, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement (pdf). Anyone registering during the first half of September will get a 30% discount, and signing up during the second half of September will get you 20% off.

…a few operational advantages will be given as well: Those that have registered during the pilot phase, which ends on 1 October, will see their import and export operations fast tracked at every logistical hub, allowing for faster clearing and checking of cargo, Maait says. The government had originally set a 1 July deadline for registration on the new system, which was then postponed in response to calls from the business community, who said they needed more time to prepare.

These are only the latest incentives by the ministry to get companies to join the system, as earlier this month new rules were set that would allow importers and their agents to defer paying 70% of taxes and fees to clear cargo at shipping ports until after the cargo arrives. Importers will be required to pay 30% of dues in advance before cargo arrives at Egyptian ports and will be entitled to a refund in the event that their shipment is banned from entry or disposed of.

Over 4.6k importers and customs agents were so far trained to use the ACI system, head of the Customs Authority El Shahat Ghatoury said in the statement.

What is this new digital customs system? The Nafeza digital customs system is being rolled out to speed up customs procedures and improve border security. Through Nafeza, businesses importing goods at ports will file shipping documents and cargo data digitally and ahead of arrival via the ACI, which is a World Customs Organization (WCO) protocol that runs on blockchain technology.

Want a breakdown of all you need to know on how to prepare for the new ACI system? We have this in-depth explainer here.

SPEED ROUND: TAXATION

The Tax Authority stick

The Tax Authority referred 10 more companies to the prosecution this week due to their failure to comply with the authority’s e-invoicing system, Tax Authority head Reda Abdelkader said in a statement (pdf) today.

This brings the total number of non-compliant companies to 53 across all three registration phases, he adds. The first two phases were launched last November and February, respectively, with a total of 481 companies participating in them. During those phases, 23 companies were non-compliant. In the third phase, which kicked off mid-May and focused on the remaining companies in the Large Taxpayer Center, 30 companies did not register, according to the statement.

All public and private sector companies are expected to register in the e-invoicing system by April 2023, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait had previously said.

What is the e-invoicing system? The government is attempting to develop a unified digital tax payment system, which will enable businesses to file and pay income tax, stamp tax, VAT and real estate tax through a single online platform. The e-invoicing system, a crucial part of that move, is seen as a key part of the ministry’s efforts to curb tax evasion.

SPEED ROUND: CABINET WATCH

Tourism topped the Madbouly cabinet’s meeting agenda this week

TDA under new management? The Madbouly cabinet is placing the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) under the purview of the Housing Ministry, transferring its administration from the Tourism Ministry, according to a cabinet statement today. Consequently, the TDA’s board will be reshuffled, with the Housing Minister being made chairman of the agency.

The move is meant to expedite the development of major tourism projects by minimizing the red tape involved in obtaining land, considering that the Housing Ministry’s New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA) is in charge of distributing land for projects, cabinet media adviser Hany Younes tells Enterprise. The TDA is currently offering investors USD 15 bn in tourism projects, with plans to inaugurate new tourist destinations including El Galala and New Mansoura in the “coming months, Tourism Minister Khaled El Enany said back in May.

Attention tourism operators: The Madbouly Cabinet is looking to hire a tourism operator to manage a number of tourism facilities and services at key landmarks, according to the statement. These include managing the outdoor venues at the Egyptian Museum in Tahrir, the rest area at the Sakkara Pyramids, and the outdoor facilities at the Mohamed Ali’s Palace in Shobra.

Other decisions taken by the Madbouly Cabinet today, include:

  • Appointing Telecom Egypt to run five IT technical colleges and providing them with the required infrastructure.
  • Having the Health Ministry designate a number of teaching hospitals to be managed by the Higher Education Ministry.

SPEED ROUND: COVID WATCH

We’re not done with the cabinet just yet

The Health Ministry will begin importing two new meds that it plans to add to its covid treatment protocols, Health Minister Hala Zayed said following today’s cabinet meeting today. Clinical trials for Bamlanivimab and Etesevimab used for mild and moderate covid cases have proven successful, she added. The treatment makes symptoms less severe, reducing the need for hospitalization and the probability of death. Agreements to import the medication have already been signed and they should arrive “soon,” she stated.

IN OTHER COVID NEWS-

US sees the severity of covid spread here as ‘moderate’: As for our overall performance in limiting the spread of covid, Zayed points out that the the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently ranks Egypt at level 2 in terms of cumulative covid cases and infection rate per 100k persons, which is considered “moderate.” The Health Ministry reported last night that there were 57 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 53 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 284,472 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 10 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 16,550.

YOUR MANDATORY GLOBAL COVID STORY- The UK has loosened travel restrictions for a number of countries, including France, India, Bahrain, the UAE and Qatar, according to a government release. These countries will be moved from the red list to its medium-risk “amber” list, meaning arrivals will no longer need to quarantine in a government-approved hotel. Six other European countries were moved to the green list, with individuals not needed to quarantine no matter their vaccination status.

Umm El Donia is still on the UK’s red list, where it was placed in June due to the risks of people contracting new covid variants in the country. Georgia, Mexico, La Reunion and Mayotte joined us on the most recently updated red list.

SPEED ROUND: STARTUP WATCH

B2B e-commerce is still hot, with Teegara being the latest funding recipient

E-commerce startup Teegara closed a five-figure pre-seed round led by Alexandria Angels Network, and angel investors from KSA, Egypt and the Netherlands, according to a press release.

The investment will be geared towards geographic expansion and building up its tech. Teegara has so far only been active in Cairo and Giza, and is planning to expand into Egypt’s governorates, founder and CEO Ahmad Kayyali tells us. In terms of tech, Teegara wants to integrate AI features that will help merchants easily place their orders.

What is Teegara? Teegara wants to make it easier for merchants and vendors to find each other. The B2B2C marketplace focuses on household products and streamlines the buying process, eliminating middlemen that hike up prices and offering different payment methods. Moreover, it offers small merchants and new users a credit line and financial services through its partners, who include Cassbana.

GO WITH THE FLOW

It’s the global earnings watch edition

GLOBAL EARNINGS WATCH- Gold miner operator Centamin saw its 1H2021 profits after tax fall 20% y-o-y to USD 59.5 mn, amid a drop in production, according to its interim results. Centamin’s revenues fell 18% y-o-y in 1H2021 to USD 367.4 mn. These results reflect a 20% y-o-y fall in gold production to 204k oz and a 25% y-o-y drop in gold sales, which fell to 204k oz. The London-listed company will look to divulge its operations in Burkina Faso which are “no longer aligned with its investment criteria”

The company paid out USD 57 mn in profit share and royalty payments to Egypt in the first six months of the year, the earnings statement notes. Centamin’s future outlook includes future growth in Egypt and West Africa, with the company also announcing a new contract for exploration ground in Egypt's Arabian Nubian Shield saying it “demonstrates the quality and potential of our portfolio.”

Meanwhile, France’s Crédit Agricole posted its highest-ever 2Q2021 earnings, beating analyst expectations by 60%, according to their financial results (pdf). Net income more than doubled y-o-y to EUR 1.97 bn, and were 60% higher than pre-pandemic levels in 2Q2019.

MARKET ROUNDUP-

The EGX30 rose less than 0.1% at today’s close on turnover of EGP 1.64 bn (21.9% above the 90-day average). Local investors were net buyers. The index is down 1.1% YTD.

In the green: Cleopatra Hospital (+2.9%), AMOC (+2.4%) and Qalaa Holdings (+2.3%).

In the red: Ezz Steel (-2.6%), Eastern Company (-1.9%) and Rameda (-1.0%).

CALENDAR

23 July-11 August (Friday-Wednesday): Tokyo 2020 Olympics.

5 August (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

9 August (Monday): Islamic New Year.

9 August (Monday): Russian flights to Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada resume.

12 August (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Islamic New Year.

September: Delegation of Russian companies to visit Russian Industrial Zone.

3-5 September (Friday-Sunday): The World Karate Federation will hold the third competition of the 2021 Karate 1-Premier League in Cairo.

7-8 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): Euromoney Conferences will host the GlobalCapital Sustainable and Responsible Capital Markets Forum 2021, featuring Vice Minister of Finance Minister Ahmed Kouchouk.

12-15 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Sahara Expo: the 33rd International Agricultural Exhibition for Africa and the Middle East.

15 September (Wednesday): The CFO Leadership & Strategy Summit is taking place in Egypt.

16 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

21-22 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September: Closing of 2021’s first oil and gas tender in the Gulf of Suez, Western Desert, and the Mediterranean.

October: New legislative session begins.

1 October (Friday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

1 October (Friday): State-owned companies and government service bodies selling goods and services to customers that have not yet signed on to the e-invoicing platform will suffer a host of penalties, including removal from large taxpayer classification, losing access to government services and business, and losing subsidies.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

11-17 October (Monday-Sunday): IMF + World Bank Annual Meetings.

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

24-28 October (Sunday-Thursday) Cairo Water Week, Cairo, Egypt.

27-28 October (Wednesday-Thursday) Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski, Cairo, Egypt.

28 October (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

30 October – 4 November (Saturday-Thursday): The first edition of Race The Legends, Egypt.

31 October – 12 November (Sunday-Friday): The 26th UN Climate Change Conference, Glasgow, UK.

November: The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

2-3 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo.

12-14 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Food Africa Cairo trade exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

14-19 December (Tuesday-Sunday): The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater.

14-15 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

16 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

**Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

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