Sunday, 19 March 2017

Trump to host El Sisi at White House in April. Is he also playing counselor between Cairo and Riyadh?


What We’re Tracking Today

Business could take a back seat to foreign policy over the next couple of weeks. Look for plenty of discussion of Cairo-Washington ties in from now through early April, when President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is apparently now set to visit the White House. In parallel, speculation is mounting that US President Donald Trump may have played a role in the rapprochement between Cairo and Riyadh, where Aramco has already made its first deliveries under an until-now suspended supply contract. We have chapter and verse in Speed Round, below.

With so much attention on matters political, look for any one of “Egypt’s latest outrages” (to borrow from the New York Times’ editorial writers) to similarly dominate coverage of Omm El Donia in the Western press in the weeks ahead. It is, to quote James Hetfield, “Sad But True.” (Watch, runtime: 5:27)

World Bank-backed Upper Egypt development program to launch today: Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr and Trade Minister Tarek Kabil will hold a joint press conference today in Cairo with World Bank Group’s Egypt Executive Director Mezra Hassan to officially launch the Upper Egypt development program in Sohag and Qena. The WB providing some USD 500 mn in funding for the program, Youm7 reports.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is arriving in Cairo today to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and other regional issues with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi ahead of the Arab Summit scheduled for 29 March, according to an emailed statement from Ittihadiya.

Goodnight, Johnny B. Goode: The real King of Rock ‘n’ Roll is dead at 90. Chuck Berry, groundbreaking rocker who more than Elvis Presley was the King of Rock and Roll and helped both popularize and define the genre, has died at age 90. As the New York Times puts it in their obit of the great man: “While Elvis Presley was rock’s first pop star and teenage heartthrob, Mr. Berry was its master theorist and conceptual genius, the songwriter who understood what the kids wanted before they knew themselves. With songs like ‘Johnny B. Goode’ and ‘Roll Over Beethoven,’ he gave his listeners more than they knew they were getting from jukebox entertainment.” Listen to Berry’s Johnny B. Goode, catch a cover by Judas Priest, or watch the tribute scene in the original Back to the Future.

** Weather warning: Picking up where we left off yesterday, look for high winds across much of mainland Egypt this morning accompanied by rain along parts of the North Coast as well as sand storms and blowing dust south of Cairo. The capital city will see cooler temperatures, a chance of fog early this morning and some blowing sand later in the morning.

What We’re Tracking This Week

Janet Heckman, the EBRD’s new boss for the SEMED region, will hold her first formal press conference this week. Meanwhile, the bank is preparing a study that will provide technical guidance and assistance to the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) on its project to link the canal with Cairo, according to SCZone chief Ahmed Darwish. This comes as a new study from the bank shows that crop and livestock waste in Egypt, mostly centered in Beheira, Sharkia, Dakahlia, and Kafr El Sheikh, “could unlock an energy potential of more than 750 MW, which is equivalent to 7 percent of [Egypt’s renewable energy] target,” according to Biomass Magazine.

The Council of State is expected to complete its review of the executive regulations to the Civil Service Act within days, Central Authority for Organization and Administration head Mohamed Gamil tells Youm7.

Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Al Hariri will be heading a business delegation of 40 companies visiting Cairo on Wednesday.

On The Horizon

Egypt expects to receive the second USD 1.25 bn payment of a USD 12 bnInternational Monetary Fund loan in May or June, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy told Reuters on Thursday. His remarks confirm those by IMF Mission Chief in Egypt Chris Jarvis, who had previously noted the payment is expected to come in June. An IMF team coming to assess progress on the reform agenda ahead of disbursing the second payments is due in Cairo on 8 May. The visit has been delayed to allow the Finance Ministry time to finish its 2017-18 budget.

Meanwhile, the House of Representatives appears to have scheduled its plenary vote on the IMF agreement for 26 March, according to statements by House Legislative Committee member Alaa Abdel Moneim which we noted on Thursday.

El Garhy briefs president on new budget: Meanwhile, next year’s budget will apparently be ready to present to the cabinet economic group within two weeks, Al Masry Al Youm reports, citing an unnamed government official. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with El Garhy and Prime Minister Sherif Ismail yesterday to discuss the economy and the basic planks of the new budget, including the strategy to reduce the budget deficit, according to a presidency statement.

On that front, the EGPC will be calculating its fuel subsidy costs for the FY2017-18 budget using the average EGP-USD exchange rate since the pound was floated in November and the average price for international crude, Al Borsa reports. The Petroleum Ministry’s subsidy bill for the current fiscal year has nearly doubled after the float, according to Minister Tarek El Molla.

Central Bank of Egypt’s monetary policy committee (MPC) will meet on 30 March to review interest rates.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Lamees Al Hadidi was finally back on the airwaves last night and took a moment to reassure everyone that Amr Adib is out of the hospital and on his way to a full recovery from his unspecified health crisis (watch, runtime: 2:56).

Al Hadidi spoke with Petroleum Minister Tarek El Molla about the resumption of oil shipments from Saudi Arabia’s Aramco this weekend (we have more on that in the Speed Round), which he said cost Egypt an average USD 320-340 mn a month, or about 40% of the country’s monthly spending on petroleum products. El Molla also said that the return of Aramco’s fuel shipments will not affect Egypt’s agreement to import crude oil from Iraq (watch, runtime 9:47).

She then spoke to Careem’s former managing director Wael Fakharany, who had threatened to sue the company last week after he was fired unexpectedly. Fakahrany told Lamees that a non-disclosure agreement prevents him from sharing the exact details of what happened, but confirmed that he was going to pursue international arbitration because he had been sabotaged and then fired “without cause” (watch, runtime 10:22).

Meanwhile on Masaa DMC, host Eman El Hosary spoke to Union Capital CEO Hany Tawfik about his alliance with BPE Partners to establish a EGP 150 mn bailout fund for distressed factories. Tawifk said that the process would prioritize certain types of facilities, such as those where operations are suspended due to liquidity shortages, very labor-intensive, or facilities that don’t rely much on imports or export (watch, runtime 6:55).

El Hosary also hosted the new head of the Press Syndicate,Al Ahram managing editor Abdel Mohsen Salama, who was elected by a high margin of 67% on Friday, according to AMAY. He tells El Hosary that his first order of business will be to free jailed reporters and lobby for legislation that guarantees and protects the free flow of information (watch, runtime 3:07).

Yahduth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer was off last night.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

Saudi Aramco has resume shipments of petroleum products to Egypt, which received shipments on both Friday and Saturday, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla told CBC’s Lamees El Hadidi last night (watch, runtime 9:47). The next two shipments are scheduled to arrive on 25 and 26 March and will then return to a regular schedule from next month. Egypt is set to buy c. USD 320-340 mn each month at today’s prices. El Molla had told Reuters’ Arabic service on Thursday that the shipments were expected to resume by the end of March or in early April. The resumption of shipments — part of a USD 23 bn, five-year supply agreement halted last year amid rising tensions between Cairo and Riyadh — was announced last Wednesday.

Commitments to other fuel import agreements putting financial strain on the EGPC:The agreement to import 1 mn barrels of crude oil per month from Iraq is still on and was not a replacement for Saudi oil, El Molla added. Sources from the Oil Ministry said the Iraq contract will go into effect by mid-April at the latest, according to Iraq Tradelink News Agency. The Oil Ministry had confirmed last week that Egypt remains committed to oil import agreements signed during the spat with Saudi, prompting a cash squeeze at the Egyptian General Petroleum Company (EGPC), according to its CEO Tarek Al-Hadidi. The EGPC issued international tenders and sought deals “with more than 50 international suppliers” after Aramco suspended shipments in October, he told Ahram Weekly. The international tenders required the EGPC to pay for shipments within one month of delivery, whereas the Aramco agreement allows Egypt to pay for the shipments in instalments over 15 years.

In another sign of warming ties between Cairo and Riyadh, the Saudi-Egyptian businesscouncil is preparing to hold an investment conference in Cairo this May, with 200 Saudi businessmen expected to attend, the council’s vice president Abdallah bin Mahfouz tells Al Borsa. According to Mahfouz, none of the agreements signed between the Saudi and Egyptian governments during King Salman’s visit to Cairo last year have been suspended. Bin Mahfouz says the Kingdom’s private sector has continued to invest in Egypt despite “economic hardships” at home.

Has Trump been playing marriage counselor? Analysts speaking to the Financial Times say Donald Trump had focused Egyptian and Saudi minds on a rapprochement. “Because of the Trump factor and the new Saudi strategy to counter Iran, we are back into a ‘forgive and forget policy,’” said Abdullah Alshammri, a former Saudi diplomat. “Riyadh’s policy towards Egypt can be described as emergency diplomacy — it is time to work only against Iran, and we need Cairo.” Ziad Akl, an analyst at Cairo’s Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies, said neither country could afford a prolonged rift.

Saudi is also kicking up the rhetoric about the Muslim Brotherhood being the root ofall evil, playing music to Egypt’s ears. A long statement released by a senior advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman after the latter’s meeting with Trump notes: “Osama Bin Laden … was among Muslim Brotherhood since he was a college student, and Al-Zawahiri himself was a member of the Muslim Brotherhood as well.”

Cairo’s ties to Washington will be in the global media spotlight over the coming month. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is heading to Washington, DC, in the first week of April to meet with US President Donald Trump, state-owned daily Al Ahram reports. The news comes as speculation mounts that Trump is playing ‘peacemaker’ between Cairo and Riyadh, as we note above, and will also take place as regional governments that receive about 62% of US foreign aid (30% is earmarked to MENA and 32% to sub-Saharan Africa) wonder what looming US budget cuts mean to them.

Could Trump’s budget cuts impact aid to Egypt? US President Donald Trump’s proposed fiscal budget for 2018 has included cuts to foreign aid and other diplomatic initiatives, which could possibly impact Egypt. Details on the cuts remain scant, but reports from the Wall Street Journal suggest that USAID, which funds a substantial amount of humanitarian aid to Egypt from the US, will see its budget allocation reduced. Funding for other humanitarian and climate change focused NGOs is also on the chopping block. The Trump administration has stated that it will shield the USD 3.1 bn in annual aid Israel receives from the US, but it is still evaluating what it will do with aid to Egypt and Jordan, Reuters reports. The US is committed to assistance to both Egypt and Israel under the Camp David peace accords, though the threat of suspension of that aid to Egypt had popped up a few times under the Obama administration. Aid from the US to countries had been anchored on fighting terrorism, according to Bloomberg, something which Trump has praised President Abdel Fattah El Sisi for. US support for the UN and its missions will also see a decline.

One person who could play a role in shaping where aid is cut is Egypt-born Dina Habib Powell, Trump’s deputy national security adviser for strategy, Politico reports. Powell is US President Donald Trump’s senior counselor for economic initiatives. In her new role, “Powell is expected to work closely with national security adviser H.R. McMaster and focus on long-term issues. She is also expected to help lead an interagency policy process working with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, CIA Director Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James Mattis.”

Of particular local interest on the budget cut front is a hint in the New York Times a US Navy laboratory in Egypt could be on the chopping budgetary block. We’re taking this to mean the US Naval Medical Research Unit three (NAMRU-3), part of the US’s network of global sentinels against infectious diseases. NAMRU’s site was down at dispatch time, but you can learn more here about the history of the Cairo outpost (dating back to 1946).

And speaking of things that make America happy: We a have a permanent diplomatic mission to NATO now. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi issued a decree establishing an Egyptian permanent mission to NATO, Ahram Online reports. The decree followed a visit by NATO Military Committee Chairman Petr Pavel to Egypt earlier this month. Expect the news to be closely followed in Moscow, where officials are working overtime to regain market share in the global arms trade. The Wall Street Journal had a nice piece on that subject over the weekend, noting that Russia has made particular inroads with traditional US allies including Egypt and the UAE.

Still not enough coverage of US foreign policy for you? Go read Bloomberg or the Wall Street Journal on US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s visit to the G-20 this weekend, were the US made it clear that protectionism is going to be a hallmark of its trade policy going forward. It’s going to be an interesting few years, folks.

Foreign investors’ holdings of Egyptian treasury bills by foreign investors have almost tripled since January, Bloomberg’s Ahmed Feteha reports. Overseas holdings of T-bills amounted to EGP 60.8 bn (USD 3.3 bn) as of March 14, the Finance Ministry’s head of public debt Samy Khallaf said in an interview. The number was EGP 22 bn at the end of January. “Foreign investors also bought [EGP 3.8 bn] of six- and 12-month notes in a finance ministry auction on Thursday,” according to Khallaf. Yields on six-month notes rose by 73 basis points to 19.39% and by 69 points on 12-month notes to 19.24%, he added.

Egypt’s reform agenda and the IMF loan will positively impact its credit ratings in the medium term, said Stephen Dick, Vice President of sovereign risk at Moody’s. He tells CNBC Arabia in a short interview (watch, runtime: 1:02) that he expects Egypt’s GDP growth to come in at up to 5% in the medium term, depending on the government’s commitment to the reform program and whether foreign investors continue to buy in to Egypt.

Are cuts to the bread subsidy system still a red line for the Ismail government? That’s the opinion hinted at by a number of traders speaking to Reuters, who note that Egypt is ratcheting up its wheat purchases on the global market at a more aggressive pace to keep up with rising consumption rates. The General Authority for Supply Commodities has purchased nearly 1 mn tonnes of wheat over the past two weeks, over 20% more than what it bought all of last year. More recently, Egypt purchased 420k tonnes of wheat from Russia, Ukraine, and France on Thursday, at an average price of USD 209.54 per tonne, according to BlackSeaGrain. Traders noted that consumption in Egypt increased from 700K tonnes to 900K tonnes since the EGP float in November as costs of other staples were allowed to increase. This, coupled with how fast the government backtracked on a minor attempt to reform the bread subsidies system after protests, suggests that conventional wisdom on bread subsidies still prevails.

These purchases, however, could also improve Egypt’s already-commanding positionon the international market. CNS Canada is noting that Egypt’s rejection of three wheat shipments from Russia and Argentina over quality of the grain — coming from a need to ensure that all FX spent on wheat is worth it — is driving speculation in the market. Other elements in the global market to look out for is Turkey suspending licenses for Russian wheat imports. Sputnik notes that Turkey is one of Russia’s three main wheat export customers, and this suspension raises the latter’s dependence on Egyptian purchases.

Five major shipping lines reportedly ceased operations in the port of East Port Said last Wednesday in response to the Transportation Ministry’s raising of port fees late last year, according to sources from the Suez Canal Economic Zone. The lines include Hapag-Lloyd, K Line, Yang Ming Marine Transport, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, and the NYK Group. Sources tell Al Masry Al Youm that the Suez Canal Authority has responded over the weekend by slashing transit fees for large container ships by half.

Naguib Sawiris told Investment and Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr he will ramp up new investments in Egypt within three months. Nasr met with Naguib on Thursday to discuss increasing his investments here at home and views on how to improve the business climate. Nasr told Sawiris her role is to resolve problems facing investors. On that front, Nasr was credited for moving along CIB’s sale of investment bank CI Capital to a consortium of investors, with a source close to the transaction saying “she’s being very hands on — a nearly year-old transaction is closing because she is making the clearing of hurdles a priority.” Naguib’s OTMT-owned subsidiary Beltone Financial had bid for CI Capital last year and fell short of the mark after EFSA effectively declined to give the acquisition regulatory clearance.

Some companies want better terms on agreement to settle pre-float LCs and demand loans: Some companies have reportedly refused a settlement agreement on pre-float LCs brokered by the Central Bank and the Union of Egyptian Investors Associations (UEIA). The complainers will be meeting with the UEIA this week to discuss alternate solutions and present a list of demands to the CBE’s Deputy Governor Gamal Negm in a few days, Al Borsa says. The central bank had reached an agreement with the UEIA in February.

Two Egyptian startups were among the 70 winners of the French Tech Ticket season two competition: GBarena and SunCity Energy. GBarena is an online gaming community that connects the gamers to global tournaments and challenges, providing the tournament organizers with a platform that helps them manage and organize their tournaments by automating the whole process through an integrated APIS. SunCity Energy develops, builds and commercialize mobile solar pumps for small farmers. The French Tech Ticket is a program designed for entrepreneurs from all over the world who want to create their startups in France. The full list of winners can be found here. The French Ticket has been renewed until 2020 and applications for next season will open in June.

The Roman Catholic Church’s Pope Francis will be visiting Egypt on 28-29 April tomeet with religious counterparts, including Pope Tawadros II and Al Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El Tayeb, an emailed statement from Ittihadiya says. The pontiff will also visit St. Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo, which was the site of a deadly attack last year that claimed dozens of lives. Western media is presenting the story as a chance for the Pope to “mend ties” between Catholics and Muslims (cf: Reuters).


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The Macro Picture

Mexico, Asian and central European bourses led the MSCI Emerging Markets Index toa 20-month high on Thursday and its best one-day gain since last July as EM shrugged off the US Federal Reserve’s rate hike, the Financial Times reports. Be careful about unbridled optimism, though: “Emerging market equities in particular have tended to struggle when the USD is strong, so another key test may face this asset class if the Fed keeps raising interest rates through 2017 and beyond,” said Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell.

Image of the Day

Bad khamaseen season? More like the worst. The pesky spring storm that’s been keeping our nostrils clogged and eyes perpetually is among the worst we’ve experienced in years, particularly outside the capital city area. The further south you are, the worse it is, with reports of more than 250 citizens in Upper Egypt needing hospitalization and medical attention due to breathing problems and traffic accidents caused by the weather in cities including Minya, Qena, and Asyut. Most roads to Upper Egypt have also been shut down, Al Ahram reports. Al Arabiya has images of the storm that can only be described as apocalyptic.

Egypt in the News

Topping coverage of Egypt this morning is the upcoming visit by Pope Francisto Egypt and his policy of promoting interfaith dialogue and thawing relations with Al Azhar.

The new administrative capital project “is part nationalist symbol, part desert reclamation project, and part suburban fantasyland,” Ursula Lindsey writes in Places Journal. She says the project “serves a rhetorical purpose. The government and media can talk about this chimera rather than what is really happening on the streets of Egypt. They can act like they are trying to solve the country’s problems, not avoiding (or, in fact, aggravating) them.” Oh, and Lindsey also believes the project has been finally given a name: Wedian.

Egypt is stepping up the charm offensive on returning to the Nile Basin Initiative, with diplomatic sources which attended last week’s NBI Ministerial Committee talks in Khartoum telling Al Monitor that Egypt’s delegation had stressed the possibility of Egypt reactivating its NBI membership and putting aside differences. The Egyptian delegation appeared open to restarting talks on the Entebbe agreement, which rearranged Nile water allotments and what drove Egypt to withdraw in the first place.

Chinese investors dominate the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) so far, Chairman Ahmed Darwish tells Xinhua in an interview lauding the TEDA Industrial Zone in Ain Sokhna. TEDA completed the first phase of the 7.23 sq km zone, with 68 companies including fiberglass company Jushi, he says.

The BBC World Service’s Rex Bloomstein recorded a documentary with musicians from around the world who are being persecuted for “raising their voices against political, cultural or religious repression” for a radio documentary. He talks to artists whose songs have led to their imprisonment, torture and to the continuing threat of violence. Among those interviewed is Ramy Essam, who told Bloomstein about “how he was brutally tortured after his songs rallied the crowds in Tahrir Square during the Arab Spring. Two weeks later, after recovering from his injuries, he was back performing his songs aimed at bringing down the regime of Hosni Mubarak” (runtime 49:29).

Egypt’s strategy in Sinai is being explored in the foreign press over the weekend, with the usual alarmist tinge coloring the conversation. First off is Human Rights Watch, which ran a report which alleges that security forces may have arbitrarily detained and forcibly disappeared men in Sinai and then staged a counter-terrorism raids to cover it up. Security tactics were also questioned by Voice of America, which blames them for the Sinai insurgency gaining strength.

Other coverage of Egypt in the international press worth noting in brief

  • For the nation’s pigeon fanciers — unlike other Egyptians — the birds are not a meal, Reuters reports. “Fanciers carefully breed their birds and often sell young pigeons to traders on a lucrative market.”
  • The Nile Delta might soon be unable to support the population of Egypt, Lily Kuo writes in Quartz.
  • Canada’s federal government apologized and offered compensation to three Canadians who were detained and tortured in Syria, one of whom was also tortured in Egypt, CBC News reports. The New York Times also has an Associated Press pickup of the story.
  • Satire can be used as a tool for political activism but “it is really up to the people to make the change,” Bassem Youssef tells Salon in the umpteenth story about his groundbreaking time as “Egypt’s Jon Stewart.”

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met yesterday with delegates from the UK Conservative Party for talks about terrorism and investment, according to a statement from Ittihadiya.

Aid from Kuwait: Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr two cooperation agreements worth a combined USD 65 mn with the Kuwait Fund for Arab Economic Development, according to the State Information Service.

Arman Issagaliyev has been appointed as Kazakhstan’s Ambassador to Egypt, the Kazakh president’s press service said in a statement.

Sudan trade rift continues: The Trade and Industry Ministry is in talks with its Sudanese counterpart over Khartoum’s decision to ban imports of Egyptian ketchup, jam, tomato sauce and canned fish, Al Borsa reports. Sudan’s Foreign Trade Ministry issued the ban on Thursday, citing health concerns, according to the newspaper. The move is the latest in a string of trade-related incidents between the two countries, including Sudan’s decision to restrict imports of Egyptian agricultural goods in September, when a number of countries boycotted Egypt’s goods following the Hepatitis A strawberry scare.

The Agriculture Ministry is looking into all meat and poultry products imported from Brazil to ensure they are up to health standards after Brazilian authorities shut down and are investigating several factories accused of selling rotten meat, some of which export their products to Egypt, Al Masry Al Youm reports.

Egypt, Poland cozied-up at Egyptian-Polish Business Forum on Friday, AMAY reports. Egyptian Trade Minister Tarek Kabil launched inaugurated the event, which saw over 200 Polish companies attend. Senior Polish government officials were also on hand, Al Mal says.


New natural gas regulator to fall under cabinet’s jurisdiction, not Oil Ministry

The House of Representatives’ Energy Committee amended clauses of the Natural Gas Act placing the new market regulator under the jurisdiction of the cabinet and not the oil ministry, committee member El Sayed Hegazy tells Al Borsa. He expects the committee to vote on the much-anticipated law — which deregulates the gas market and limiting the government’s role to that of regulator — next week before sending it over to the House general assembly for a vote.

Elsewedy Electric, Marubeni sign MoU with EETC to develop 500 MW wind power plant

Elsewedy Electric and Japan’s Marubeni Corporation signed an MoU with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company in Tokyo Thursday to develop a 500 MW wind power plant on the Red Sea’s Gabal El Zait, according to a press release. The project will be developed under a BOO framework over two phases with commercial operations set to begin in mid-2020. The release does not disclose the project’s value, but says the consortium allows access to Japanese finance.

Electricity Ministry completes USD 23 mn Imbaba transformer substation

The Electricity Minister completed the USD 23 mn 220 KV Imbaba transformer substation, Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company chairman Gamal Abdel Rehim says, Al Borsa reports. A consortium including China’s AVIC was awarded the contract for the Imbaba station in February 2016 on EPC-plus-finance basis.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt back to the International Olive Council

Madrid-based International Olive Council ratified Egypt’s request to return to it that was filed two weeks ago, Agriculture Minister Abdel Moneim El Banna says, Al Borsa reports. Egypt’s membership was revoked last month after it did not sign an agreement on changes to standards of olive cultivation, production, or trading, according to BBC Arabic. The International Olive Council is an intergovernmental organization that helps develop and coordinate policy on the olive industry among member countries.

Telecoms + ICT

ICT Ministry, Honeywell to sign cooperation protocol to produce smart meters in Egypt

ICT Minister Yasser El Kady and Honeywell Vice President and General Manager Gary Bennett agreed on Saturday to sign a cooperation agreement within the next few weeks to produce smart meters and establish a software development center in Egypt, Al Borsa reports.

Other Business News of Note

Bayer Foods to invest EGP 400 mn to expand production operations

Bayer Foods is planning to invest EGP 400 mn to expand its production operations in Egypt, establishing pasta and biscuit production facilities, Al Borsa reports. The company expects its annual sales this year to reach EGP 600 mn, and is targeting boosting that figure to EGP 1.3 bn upon completing its expansion plans in 2020.

Microsoft to partner with Flat6Labs, Greek Campus, TIEC to support budding entrepreneurs

Microsoft is teaming up with incubator Flat6Labs, Ahmed El Alfi’s Greek Campus, and the Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC) to support budding entrepreneurs by offering training sessions on Microsoft programs and providing entrepreneurs with workspaces, Al Borsa reports.

Egypt Politics + Economics

No 30% state salary increases -IDSC

The cabinet’s Information and Decision Support Center denied rumors that the government is raising salaries in FY2017-18’s budget by 30% y-o-y, according to Al Masry Al Youm. The Finance Ministry insists that the amount that will be earmarked for salaries has not yet been set but that the Civil Service Act allows for periodical raises that could mean that salaries would increase by more than 10-15%.

State Commissioners body advises authorities to backtrack on Al Nadeem Center shut down

The State Commissioner’s body at the Council of State issued a report recommending that the government backtrack on its decision to shut down the Nadeem Center for the Rehabilitation of Victims of Violence since the organization doesn’t seem to be in clear violation of any building or medical codes, Al Shorouk says.

Hosni, Gamal, and Alaa Mubarak file lawsuit to lift hold on EGP 61 mn

Former president Hosni Mubarak and his sons Alaa and Gamal filed a lawsuit against the Justice Minister and Prosecutor General to lift an administrative hold, issued on 8 January 2016, on EGP 61 mn of the Mubaraks’ shares held at Misr for Central Clearing, Depository & Registry, Al Shorouk reports. The court hearing is scheduled for 23 March.

National Security

Egypt provides military training to Libya’s national army -National Security Council Secretary-General

Egypt has been training elements of Libya’s national army in an effort to protect our western neighbor’s security and stability, which will reflect on Egypt’s national security, National Security Council Secretary-General Khaled El Bakly told El Watan. El Bakly also denied that Egypt launched airstrikes against Daesh in Libya, saying “the Libyan Air Forces are the ones doing that.”


Madagascar Football Association head elected CAF president

Madagascar Football Association chief Ahmad Ahmad was elected President of the Confederation of African Football on Thursday, BBC reports. Ahmad replaces Issa Hayatou who is under investigation by prosecutors in Egypt over allegations of bid-rigging related to broadcast rights. Hayatou had been running CAF since 1989.

On Your Way Out

One of Alexandria’s most iconic pubs is the Spitfire. Gamal, who now manages it, says he’s seen the world through the iconic watering hole. Gamal also says he “met guests from all nationalities, most of which came to Alexandria on business trips to visit companies or factories or on ships stopping at the port,” according to Cairobserver. He is in love with the pub, “Its walls talk to me every day,” he says. “He is equally in love with the sea of Alexandria for no particular reason and cannot imagine his life anywhere else.”

53% of Egyptians don’t sleep well one or two nights each week, according to research by Bupa Global, Al Shorouk reports. Of those surveyed, 12% say they sleep less than five hours every night and 30% say they get their worst sleep on Saturdays. 23% blamed pressure from work. The study shows that caffeine intake throughout the day, exercise and technology use before sleeping are all factors affecting how well and how long we sleep.

If you’re planning on traveling before mid-June, you might want to check out EgyptAir’s latest offers: The carrier is reportedly offering discounts on business class and some coach tickets to a number of European and Arab cities if they are purchased before the end of March, according to Al Mal.Discounted routes include those to Amman, Riyadh, and London, among others.

The markets yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 18.00 | Sell 18.10
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 18.10 | Sell 18.20
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 18.00 | Sell 18.10

EGX30 (Thursday): 12,984 (+1.9%)
Turnover: EGP 1.7 bn (280% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +5.2%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session up 1.9%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent rose by 2.8%. The EGX30’s top performing constituents were: TMG Holding up 9.1%, Orascom Construction up 5.8%, and Ezz Steel up 4.3%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks included Porto Group down 3.9%, Egyptian Resorts down 2.7%, and Egyptian Iron and Steel down 2.1%. The market turnover was EGP1.7 billion, which is the highest turnover MTD, and regional investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP – 12.5 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP + 40.1 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP – 27.6 mn

Retail: 60.4% of total trades | 59.4% of buyers | 61.3% of sellers
Institutions: 39.6% of total trades | 40.6% of buyers | 38.7% of sellers

Foreign: 24.4% of total | 24.0% of buyers | 24.8% of sellers
Regional: 9.4% of total | 10.6% of buyers | 8.2% of sellers
Domestic: 66.2% of total | 65.4% of buyers | 67.0% of sellers

WTI: USD 48.78 (+0.06%)
Brent: USD 51.76 (+0.04%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.95 MMBtu, (+1.59%, April 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,230.20 / troy ounce (+0.25%) TASI: 6,921.6 (+1.3%) (YTD: -4.0%)
ADX: 4,424.9 (+1.1%) (YTD: -2.7%)
DFM: 3,521.3 (+1.2%) (YTD: -0.3%)
KSE Weighted Index: 422.3 (+0.3%) (YTD: +11.1%)
QE: 10,361.0 (+0.7%) (YTD: -0.7%)
MSM: 5,668.3 (+0.1%) (YTD: -2.0%)
BB: 1,374.6 (+0.3%) (YTD: +12.6%)

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18-19 March (Saturday-Sunday): Delegation of Japanese food industries companies visits Egypt.

20 March (Monday): SWIFT Business Forum Egypt 2017, Cairo.

29-30 March (Wednesday-Thursday): Cityscape Egypt Conference, Nile Ritz-Carlton, Cairo.

29-31 March (Wednesday-Friday): Balanced Development of Siwa Oasis International Tourism Conference, Siwa Oasis.

30 March (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee meeting.

31 March – 03 April (Friday-Monday): Cityscape Egypt Exhibition, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo. Register here.

03-06 April (Monday-Thursday): Agri & Foodex Africa, Khartoum International Fair Ground, Khartoum, Sudan.

04 April (Tuesday): Emirates NBD Egypt PMI reading for March announced. The report will be available here.

08-10 April (Saturday-Monday): Pharmaconex, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo.

16 April (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday.

17 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim, national holiday.

20 April (Thursday): Closing date for the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority bid round number 1 for 2017 for gold and associated minerals.

24-25 April (Monday-Tuesday): Renaissance Capital’s Egypt Investor Conference, Cape Town, South Africa.

25 April (Tuesday): Sinai Liberation Day, national holiday.

25-26 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): MENA New Energy conference, Hyatt Regency, Dubai.

30 April – 03 May (Sunday-Wednesday): Cement & Concrete 2017, Riyadh International Convention & Exhibition Center, Saudi Arabia.

01 May (Monday): Labor Day, national holiday.

08 May (Monday): IMF delegation visit to Egypt to assess economic reforms.

08-09 May (Monday-Tuesday): Third Egypt CSR Forum, Intercontinental Citystars Hotel, Cairo.

16 May (Tuesday): Official expiry date for the decision to suspend capital gains taxes on stock market transactions.

22-23 May (Monday-Tuesday): North Africa Mobile Network Optimisation Conference, Cairo.

27 May (Saturday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

26-28 June (Monday-Wednesday): Eid Al-Fitr (TBC).

30 June (Friday): 30 June, national holiday.

23 July (Sunday): Revolution Day, national holiday.

02-05 September (Saturday-Tuesday): Eid Al-Adha, national holiday (TBC).

17-19 September (Sunday-Tuesday): Pipeline-Pipe-Sewer-Technology Conference & Exhibition, Intercontinental Citystars Hotel, Cairo.

20-23 September (Wednesday-Saturday): 2017 Automech Formula car expo, Cairo International Convention Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

22 September (Friday): Islamic New Year, national holiday (TBC).

06 October (Friday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

01 December (Friday): Prophet’s Birthday, national holiday.

08-10 December (Friday-Sunday): RiseUp Summit, Downtown Cairo.

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