Tuesday, 18 April 2017

World Bank sees Egypt growth accelerating from 3.9% this year to 5.4% in 2019


What We’re Tracking Today

We hope you survived the fiseekh and managed to rest up over the (blessedly uneventful) long weekend. We’re all going to need the energy: It’s a short work week and we have two more holidays coming up (Sinai Liberation Day on 25 April and Labor Day on 1 May), but we’re also entering the pre-Ramadan rush.

Expect lots of talk about growth in the coming week. The World Bank thinks Egypt’s economy will grow 3.9% in 2017 and will unveil its World Economic Outlook 2017 at around 3pm CLT this afternoon. The bank has already released its Egypt Economic Outlook April 2017 report (pdf) and sees growth this year lagging an estimated 4.3% last year before accelerating to 4.6% in 2018 and 5.4% in 2019. Growth this year will largely be a function of public spending and state investment as well as marginal improvement in Egypt’s exports thanks to a weaker EGP. The weaker EGP will also help attract new FDI in the second half of this year and will spur a recovery in the tourism sector. That said, growth will be held back by limited consumer spending in the short term on the back of rising inflation. The World Bank expects inflation to cool thanks to prudent monetary policy and as the one-off effects of the reform agenda wear off. Look for consumer inflation to drop to 20.1% for 2017, then ease to 14.2% next year and 11.4% in 2019. The fiscal deficit should narrow to 10.5% in the next state fiscal year, contingent on the government holding steadfast to its fiscal consolidation plan, including implementing the value-added tax, the report added.

Parts of the April 2017 edition of the World Economic Outlook are already out on the report’s landing page. Chapter two (pdf) covers emerging markets, which the World Bank notes “now account for more than 75 percent of global growth in output and consumption, almost double the share of just two decades ago.” The catch: “With the global economy in the midst of potentially persistent structural shifts, emerging market and developing economies may face a less supportive external environment going forward than they experienced for long stretches of the post-2000 period.” The World Bank’s solution: Reform, and lots of it.

The report comes ahead of the IMF and World Bank Spring Meetings, which will take place 21-23 April. Confirmed attendees (so far) from Egypt include Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr and Central Bank of Egypt Governor Tarek Amer. You can catch Nasr’s pre-meeting press release here (pdf). The minister also plans to meet with US companies in DC this week, sources told Al Mal.

A six-day heat wave begins today, with a forecast high today of 32°C, rising to 38°C on Friday and Saturday. The one upside: Humidity will remain well below 30% all six days, according to the weather folks.

What We’re Tracking This Week

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is due in Cairo on Wednesday to discuss regional security issues, according to a Pentagon statement. Mattis’ visit to Egypt will be the second stop on his tour of the Middle East that begins today in Saudi Arabia. It’s meant to “reaffirm key US military alliances, engage with strategic partners in the Middle East and Africa, and discuss cooperative efforts to counter destabilizing activities and defeat extremist terror organizations.” Mattis is scheduled to visit Israel, Qatar, and Djibouti after Egypt.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Talking heads last night went out of their way to demonstrate just how festive (and safe) the country was during this Easter Sunday break on one of the most insipid nights of talk shows we can remember in the 600 or so nights we’ve been forced to watch these people.

Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi aired a report on large gatherings of Egyptians in streets, and public gardens and parks (watch, runtime: 1:58). The show also had a National Council for Women official on to downplay the 58 harassment complaints she said she received, quoting her as saying the number was lower than on previous Easter holidays (watch, runtime: 4:18). Lamees had the Egyptian Choir perform in the studio for the rest of the show (watch, runtime: 38:37).

A spokesperson for the Interior Ministry Ahmed El Khodary gave 90 Minutes’ Moataz El Demerdash the lowdown on the extent of the police presence in public places during the festivities (watch, runtime: 5:59). El Demerdash then showcased a report about Easter celebrations in the North Sinai churches, (watch, runtime: 2:22).

Yahduth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer had Salalem Band perform hymnals for the entire episode.

Kol Youm’s Amr Adib was off last night.

Speed Round

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The nation’s Christians marked Easter scaled-back church services under tight security and in a somber mood, Reuters reports. Soldiers were stationed outside the St Mark’s and St George’s cathedrals in Alexandria and Tanta, where worshipers attended Mass one week after the two churches were bombed on Palm Sunday. “We are paying our condolences to [the bombing victims] and to their families and it is a bad situation,” one worshiper told the newswire, highlighting that the stringent security measures were only implemented after the bombings.

Bishop Macarius, head of the Coptic diocese in Minya, told Reuters he is skeptical that the recently declared three-month state of emergency imposed was adequate and said the church wanted further security guarantees. “We can consider ourselves in a wave of persecution, but the church has gone through a lot in 20 centuries … There are waves of persecution. It reaches to the highest point like a pyramid and then it goes down again … We are at a very high point.”

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi visited Pope Tawadros II at Saint Mark’s Cathedral in Cairo on Thursday to offer his condolences for Palm Sunday’s bombings, Ahram Gate reports. El Sisi also pledged to hunt down the perpetrators of the attack, according to AFP.

Tawadros visited the families of the victims of Sunday’s attacks on Saturday, Al Ahram reports. Tawadros also visited the Alexandria security directorate to extend his condolences for the policemen who were killed in the bombing at St Mark’s Coptic Church in the nation’s second-largest city.

Catholic Pope Francis expressed on Good Friday his “shame for all the scenes of devastation, destruction and drownings that have become ordinary in our lives,” according to Reuters. Francis is due in Cairo on 28 April.

French presidential candidate François Fillon also attended Easter celebrations at a Coptic church in Paris, saying in a tweet that he wanted to “stand by the Coptic community that was the victim of the barbarism of the Islamic State.”

Raya Contact Center’s international offering to institutional investors was c.4.0x oversubscribed, the company said in a statement (pdf) announcing that RCC is pricing its IPO at EGP 16.50 per share. The company had originally guided on EGP 16.00-17.91 per share. That makes the IPO worth about EGP 808 mn and will give Raya Contact Center a market cap of EGP 1.65 bn before Raya Holding for Financial Investments, RCC’s parent company, subscribes to some EGP 100 mn worth of shares in a closed offering, effectively injecting a bit more than 12% of the IPO’s gross proceeds back into RCC. RCC offered a bit over 44 mn shares to international institutional investors, while about 4.9 mn shares are being offered to Egyptian retail investors.

The subscription period for the Egyptian retail offering ends on Thursday, 20 April. EFG Hermes is sole global coordinator and bookrunner for the IPO. Dechert LLP is international counsel to the issuer, Zaki Hashem and Partners is local counsel to the issuer, Matouk Bassiouny is local counsel to the sole global coordinator and bookrunner.

Cabinet spent the long weekend hyping up social welfare spending ahead of its budget debate in the House after its draft 2017-18 budget ‘leaked’ to the media. The Ismail government spent the long weekend promoting its social welfare spending as it prepares to sell the House of Representatives on its FY2017-18 budget, a draft of which has been sent to the House and subsequently leaked to Al Mal. The budget discussion comes as the nation prepares for both Ramadan and a visit to Egypt by an IMF delegation next month.

Finance Minister Amr El Garhy led the charge, announcing that the budget for social welfare spending (including the Takaful and Karama cash benefit programs) will grow 50% to EGP 15 bn from EGP 10 bn under the current budget. El Garhy said that next fiscal year would see food subsidies spending increase 30%, by far the most interesting item on the budget to the local media. This would primarily come from increasing the allocation of subsidies to smart card holders to EGP 27 per month from EGP 21. Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy also revealed that the ministry is considering giving subsidy card holders a EGP 7 cash handout every month for Ramadan, Al Mal reports.

More goodies are up for grabs: The government is also considering an “exceptional bonus” to state employees, but has not settled on an amount yet, said Deputy Finance Minister Mohamed Maait. He reiterated previous statements that the ministry is working on a new tax code that would offer further tax refunds to low income families, according to the newspaper.

Egypt is not sending 40k troops to Yemen, an unnamed government official said after a spokesman for the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen alleged that Egypt had volunteered to send as many as 40k troops as well as naval forces and warplanes. Coalition spokesman Ahmed Al Asiri had told Al Arabiya in an interview on Sunday that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi had offered to send the troops in addition to naval and air forces on the condition that the coalition’s strategy relies on only using Yemeni troops on the ground (watch, runtime 0:45). The unnamed Egyptian official said Egypt has not agreed to intervene on the ground in Yemen, adding that any decision to send Egyptian troops into another country would require approvals from the National Defense Council, cabinet, and the House of Representatives, the source said.

Meanwhile, the rift between Cairo and Riyadh continues to heal, with the Saudi cabinet approving an MoU with Egypt signed in April last year to jointly clamp down on corruption, according to a statement from the Saudi cabinet.

Feed-in tariff program to receive USD 3 bn in investment? Norway’s Scatec Solar, the International Finance Corporation, and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development are planning to invest a total of USD 3 bn under the feed-in tariff program, Scatec’s regional director Morten Langsholdt said on Saturday, without providing details on the timeline. Langsholdt also told Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr that Scatec is planning on investing USD 500 mn in solar projects in October, and said that the company will establish 40 solar power plants to generate 1800 MW by 2018, according to a ministry statement.

A Cairo court acquitted Egyptian-American activist Aya Hijazi and sevenothers associated with her Belady NGO of charges of human trafficking and child abuse on Sunday, Reuters reports. Prosecutors can appeal the verdict, which comes after Hijazi had been held for nearly three years for her work with street children. The decision also comes two weeks after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with US President Donald Trump, where one of the items of the conversation included Hijazi. Hijazi’s detention was an issue of concern and was being watched closely by the Trump administration, an administration official had said at the time. Following the verdict, Hijazi and her husband and co-founder Mohamed Hassanein vowed to continue advocate for street children and declared they were undeterred by the three-year stint in prison. The story leads coverage of Egypt in the international press this morning. See pieces from the New York Times, Washington Post, Associated Press, the BBC and the Guardian.

EARNINGS WATCH- The Egyptian Resorts Company reported consolidated net profit of EGP 10.2 mn in FY 2016 compared with EGP 217.5 mn in 2015, according to its earnings release (pdf). Net revenues in 2016 were EGP 208 mn, down from EGP 400.4 mn in FY 2015. The company continues to “control the supply of land [to the market] with the aim of maximizing the future value of the ERC’s land bank as well as that of its development partners and investors.”

Charge Egyptians for using Facebook? Good luck. Some MPs are reportedly looking to making Egyptians pay a monthly fee for using Facebook, and will discuss proposals for a draft bill on this soon, Egypt Independent reports. “The purpose behind the suggested subscription is to put all users under government surveillance so it can effectively restrict any attempt by Egypt’s enemies to use social media as a mean to broadcast rumors and incite [people] against Egypt’s army and police forces,” explained MP Ryad Abdel Sattar, who proposed the law.

Abdel Sattar, whose understand of the how the interwebs work is clearly somewhat, uhm, challenged, was subtly rebuked by Rep. Ahmed Badway, deputy head of the House Committee on ICT, who simply denied on Sunday that the committee intends to discuss charging fees for Facebook use in Egypt.

Meanwhile, a Times of London reporter is accusing Facebook of failing to remove extremist posts, according to Reuters. The social network did not remove the posts even after the moderators were directly informed of the potentially illegal content. “Facebook moderators removed some of reported images but left untouched pro-jihadist posts praising recent attacks [in the UK and Egypt] and calling for new ones. The company appeared to take action only after The Times identified itself as reporting a story on the matter.” Facebook Vice President of Operations Justin Osofsky apologized later, saying “it is clear that we can do better, and we’ll continue to work hard to live up to the high standards people rightly expect of Facebook.”

The Cairo Criminal Court sentenced former Interior Minister Habib El Adly and two of his deputies to seven years in prison on corruption charges on Saturday, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The court also decided that the three must return EGP 196 mn they were found guilty of misappropriating. El Adly and nine others were also required to return another EGP 529 mn in illicitly obtained funds. Other former Interior Ministry officials on trial were handed down prison sentences of three or five years. Yesterday’s verdict could be appealed.

MOVES- Carmen Haddad was appointed as the head of Citigroup Saudi Arabia, Bloomberg reports. Haddad is currently the chief executive of Citi’s business in Qatar and Citi’s senior private banker for the GCC, Egypt, and the Levant. Citigroup has appointed Haddad to rebuild the bank’s activities in the kingdom after a 10-year absence and “is in advanced discussions with Saudi Arabia’s Capital Market Authority for an investment-banking license to operate in the country.”

Forbes’ 2017 Arab rich list is out: Prince Alwaleed bin Talal remains the richest Arab with a net worth of USD 18.7 bn. He is followed by Majid Al Futtaim and family and Mohammed Al Amoudi with net worths of USD 10.6 bn and USD 8.1 bn, respectively. Nassef Sawiris is the fifth richest on the list and, as the richest Egyptian, his estimated net worth is USD 5.6 bn. Naguib is in at eighth with USD 3.9 bn. In Egypt, seven people made the bn’aire list, and the third richest, after the Sawiris brothers, is Mohamed Mansour, with an estimated net worth of USD 2.7 bn. Globally, Bill Gates, Warren Buffet, and Jeff Bezos are the three richest people in the world, followed by Zara founder Amancio Ortega and Mark Zuckerberg.

Banana sultanate: Turkey has gone from banana republic to banana sultanate after voters reportedly gave its president and longtime Napoleon Complex sufferer Recep Tayyip Erdogan broad executive powers under Monday’s referendum to change the constitutional to a presidential kleptocracy from a parliamentary one. And what did they get for their troubles? Why an extension on the state of emergency imposed following last year’s coup attempt. Erdogan won by a slim margin and after using state assets to hound political opponents. US President Donald Trump called the sultan to offer congratulations despite widespread criticism of the vote by international monitors. Erdogan has dismissed the criticism.

Ahoy, matey: It’s Vanguard’s world, and we just live in it. From a long profile of the purveyor of low-cost mutual funds in the New York Times: “In the last three calendar years, investors sank USD 823 bn into Vanguard funds, the company says. The scale of that inflow becomes clear when it is compared with the rest of the mutual fund industry — more than 4,000 firms in total. All of them combined took in just a net USD 97 bn during that period, Morningstar data shows. Vanguard, in other words, scooped up about 8.5 times as much ¬ as all of its competitors.”

What do you do when you’re stuck in North Korea — and have internet access? Light up Twitter, of course. Journalists invited to cover North Korea’s “Festival of the Sun” (ie: the 105th anniversary of the birth of founding father Kim Il Sung) spent nine hours in the airport waiting to leave the parallel dimension for Beijing. They covered mounting anxiety at the prospect of never leaving the DPRK with beer and a steady stream of tweets from their trip, including a poster depicting the 14 state-approved haircuts for men. Tap the image above for LA Times Beijing Bureau Chief Jonathan Kaiman’s feed and start scrolling backward.


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Egypt Holiday Photo of the Day

Today’s Egypt Holiday Photo of the Day is of the Blue Hole in Dahab. The Blue Hole in Dahab, South Sinai, is a 94-meter deep submarine sinkhole known as the “World’s Most Dangerous Dive Site” due to its depth. The image was shot for CIB’s 2016 Annual Report (microsite and print edition) by Zeina Abaza at Inktank Communications, which has produced the bank’s annual report for the past eight years.

Egypt in the News

The release of Aya Hijazi was the story that topped coverage of Egypt thismorning in the foreign press, with most publications stressing her being held in pretrial detention for three years in violation of the Egyptian constitution. They also note the timing of the release, coming two weeks after President El Sisi met with President Trump in DC. The New York Times’ Declan Walsh also reminds us that Irish citizen Ibrahim Halawa is still being held in pretrial detention. Heba Farouk Mahfouz and Louisa Loveluck emphasize for the Washington Post how the prosecution’s case fell apart at the trial, with some of their lead witnesses apparently defending Hijazi and her organization.

Journalists also spent the holiday long weekend covering muted Easter services at the nation’s Christian churches continued to churn out op-eds on the topic. The folks at the Washington Post, never ones to miss the opportunity presented by a tragedy to cast some shade on Trump, are recycling old material about how Coptic Christians do not share Trump’s confidence in El Sisi’s handling of the terror attacks, and noted the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom’s recommendation that Egypt should be classified as a Country of Particular Concern because of its failure to adequately uphold religious freedom and protect religious minorities. The Associated Press is running a piece on the how the heightened security around churches during Easter Sunday prayers reflect the environment of fear in which Christians find themselves.

Meanwhile, the Financial Times is taking a larger look at the situation of Christians in the region as a whole, declaring that the West needs to take a stand against the meddling of other actors including Turkey, Russia and Iran, all of whom it sees as fomenting religious strife in the region. The newspaper dismisses Coptic leaders standing behind El Sisi without providing context for why they gave that support in the first place.

Portraits of grief: Jonathan Rashad travelled to Tanta to capture the suffering of the families of people who were killed in the Palm Sunday bombings in a portrait series for Time Magazine. Rashad attended funerals and was introduced to families through a local priest. Among those portrayed is “Daniel Maher, a priest who was in the church at the time, lost his son, Beshoy. Mark Samir Iskander lost his brother, Michael. Emad Tadros lost his father, Medhat. Enayat Shenouda lost her husband, Saad Zaki Badawi.”

Although the state of emergency may be short-lived, its intended effects may be long-lasting, Nathan J. Brown writes in The Washington Post. Brown says the state of emergency “is sending a loud, internal message to toe the line.” He writes: “instead, the declaration of emergency is likely intended to communicate to Egyptian society … to get on board with the new regime. Egypt’s courts, in particular, have been given a stern implicit message: Judges shouldn’t let strict legalism obstruct their more important role in the fight against terrorism.” Brown says “the state of emergency is designed to get others to cooperate.”

Moving away from coverage of the Palm Sunday’s attacks, BBC’s Nicola Kelly attended a Nubian Muslim-Christian wedding in Aswan. “We’re the first people to marry outside of our religion here. That’s very difficult, especially for my parents … We agreed to get married at night, so as not to bring shame on either of the families … For me, inter-marrying is not a big deal. I want people to accept each other. Muslims and Christians, we can live in peace” the groom tells Kelly. The bride said she does not care about the wedding vows: “That’s all for other people, not for us, the couple. It’s not my priority … have always loved him, but I didn’t think we would be allowed to marry. My father said no for a long time, but now the imam and the pastor have agreed… I hope now everyone will accept our marriage and it will become easier for us.”

Other coverage of Egypt in the international media worth noting in brief:

  • Security forces arrested 13 suspected terrorists who were allegedly planning attacks against government, Christian, and police institutions in four northern provinces including Alexandria, the Times of Israel reports.
  • The West’s embrace of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will “backfire,” Meir Walters writes for Foreign Affairs (paywall). El Sisi “may cooperate with the West to maintain the status quo in the short-term, he is not a reliable partner for bringing stability to Egypt or the region,” Walters writes.
  • Egypt should disclose whether it is holding four Hamas-affiliated Palestinians whose whereabouts are unknown, Human Rights Watch said.
  • There needs to be a comprehensive change in the strategy Egypt uses to combat terrorism, Jihad Abaza writes for the Atlantic Council.
  • Bloomberg is noting the minor role Egypt played in jumpstarting the North Korean weapons program back in the 1980s by selling it Scud Missile launch pads.
  • Al Jazeera English reporter Baher Mohamed, who was arrested in the so-called Marriott Cell case in 2013, wrote a mini-memoir reflecting on his time in jail and solitary confinement.
  • President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has “proved he outdoes his teacher Mubarak,” Haaretz’s Zvi Bar’el says in a highly critical piece on freedoms under El Sisi’s rule (paywall).

On Deadline

Will anybody be held accountable for Aya Hijazi’s unjust imprisonment? Now that a court has cleared Hijazi, her husband, and the five other defendants in the Belady Foundation case of all charges, will someone be held accountable for the shoddy investigation that cost them three years of their lives, Hamdy Rezk asks in a column penned for Al Masry Al Youm. The case should be a red flag for the authorities to review how prosecutors moved forward with a case that damaged Egypt’s image, Rezk adds. Hany El Salamouny also takes to the pages of AMAY to level criticism at the prosecution, pointing to holes in the police report on the foundation, including what he says is a lack of evidence to back up any of the charges.

Worth Watching

“Nothing less than a cruel shop of horror”: The Giza Zoo, which once upon a time was considered one of the world’s best, has been in a downward spiral of decay that has led to the death of many of its animals. An entry ticket for the zoo costs EGP 5, which is not sufficient to cover maintenance and animal care costs. The zoo’s financial troubles have given rise to a number of illegal and inhumane practices, including workers abusing animals, allowing visitors to take pictures inside the animals’ cages for tips, or even going as far as selling the animals. The solution? Pressuring the government to approve the Egyptian Society of Animal Friends’ draft animal care and protection draft law, and sign the petition to shut down zoos in Egypt where animals continue to suffer, Cairo Scene, who have found the only moment to be noted here, suggests (runtime 1:29).

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

The World Trade Organization hascompleted its review on Egypt’s trade policies and had very nice things to say about them apparently, according to statements attributed to the WTO delegation by Al Shorouk. The delegation was apparently impressed by the government’s efforts to revamp its trade policies and its “2020 export strategy.” They noted the level of cooperation which they said had facilitated future policy reviews. The platitudes-ridden statement does not provide concrete opinions on specific policy which have been brought to the WTO, including the exporters registry and (possibly) the automotive directive which has upset European manufacturers.

This comes as six major export councils have formulates their collective strategy for boosting Egypt’s non-oil exports to USD 34 bn by 2020, Al Borsa reports. Targets set by the strategy include raising construction materials exports 145% from their 2015 levels to USD 7.7 bn, increasing petrochemicals exports to USD 6.6 bn, up 124%, and food industries to USD 4.6 bn, a jump of 76%. Among the challenges they name to reach these targets are high electricity and gas prices for industry, weak logistical capabilities, especially when exporting to west Africa. Financing was also named as a challenge, stating that EGP 20 bn in funding are needed and should be offered at 10% interest to factories that are exporting. The councils will discuss their strategy with Kabil soon.

Deputy Investment and International Cooperation Minister Shehab Marzban discussed Germany’s pledges and investments with German government officials in Berlin, Al Masry Al Youm reports. German funding to SMEs is set to increase, and its government is apparently considering participating in the ministry’s entrepreneurship fund, Marzban says. Marzban also says Federal Minister for Economic Cooperation and Development Gerd Müller will visit Egypt in July.

A delegation of 17 Greek companies is set to visit Egypt next month to discuss investment opportunities, particularly in the Suez Canal Zone, Tarek Kabil announced yesterday, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The companies will also participate in a joint summit with Egyptian businessmen during their visit.

Oil Minister Tarek El Molla met with his Cameroonian counterpart in Cairo yesterday to discuss increasing cooperation, Al Mal reports.


European Investment Bank to finance feasibility study on building logistics center in East Port Said Port

The Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) reached an agreement with the European Investment Bank to finance a feasibility study on building a logistics center in East Port Said, SCZone head Ahmed Darwish said, Al Ahram reports. The center will offer services including loading and unloading ships, storage and renting out containers.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Sugar export tariff will not have significant impact

The EGP 3,000 per tonne sugar export tariff the government placed last Wednesday “won’t change anything on the ground as no locally produced sugar is being exported at the moment,” one trader told Reuters. Sugar produced in Egypt by Savola is exported, the trader says, but it will be unaffected because its operation is based in a free zone. Ashraf El Gazayerli, Chairman of the Food Chamber at the Federation of Egyptian Industries, told Reuters’ Ihab Farouk the decision will not have a significant impact. The real problem, El Gazayerli says, is smuggling, not legal exports. There needs to be a domestic price that matches the international one, he says.

Supply Ministry delays enforcing printing prices on rice, sugar until 31 May

Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy acquiesced to pleas by rice and sugar producers to delay the decision to have them print prices on their goods to 31 May from 15 April, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce had previously been lobbying to postpone the deadline for printing prices to after Ramadan to avoid incurring losses for manufacturing.


Tarek Kabil meets with SC Johnson Chairman

Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil met with SC Johnson Chairman and CEO Herbert Fisk Johnson on Saturday to discuss the company’s expansion plans in Egypt, Al Mal reported.

Health + Education

Hep C treatments to be approved for children within two weeks

The National Committee for the Control of Viral Hepatitis will approve using Sovaldi and Harvoni to cure children with Hepatitis C within two weeks, Chairman Wahid Doss tells Al Mal. This follows the US FDA’s recent approval to use the medications to treat children. Doss expects the medication will be used starting from June.

Health Ministry is developing a new tracking system for meds

The Health Ministry is launching a new digital tracking program to monitor distribution and sale of meds, with an eye to ensure expired or smuggled meds are off the market, a ministry spokesperson tells AMAY. The move was reportedly done in cooperation with pharma companies.


Hotel occupancy rates up over Easter weekend

Hotel occupancy rates were up over the Easter weekend, with foreigners accounting for most of the boost, tourism industry sources tell Al Shorouk. Cairo hotels saw the biggest increase in occupancy rates, which have driven up room rates by 10-12%, according to Hilton Cairo manager Soha El Torgoman. Sharm El Sheikh and Hurghada hotels also saw their occupancy rates spike to as much as 70% over the holiday, but sources stress these rates are not indicative of the general state of tourism.

Other Business News of Note

Misr Cafe, Green Fields looking to boost exports this year

Misr Cafe exported products worth USD 20 mn last year, including USD 1.5 mn exported to African markets, Misr Cafe chairman Mounir Massoud told Al Borsa. Massoud said that the company is looking to increase its exports to Africa by 25%, and is planning to participate in a number of food expos, including Food Africa at the end of this month. Green Fields is also targeting a 30% year-on-year increase in its exports from EGP 52 mn last year, the company’s assistant export manager Mohamed Khedr said, Al Borsa reports. Egyptian food companies have been pushing to maximize their exports to Africa with a report from the Food Export Council saying that Egypt’s food exports to Kenya have increased 53%, Al Ahram reports.

Legislation + Policy

Manpower Ministry holds “national dialogue” over Labor Act

The Manpower Ministry began holding a “national dialogue” with business owners and worker representatives to discuss the Labor Act, Al Masry Al Youm reports.

Egypt Politics + Economics

House discussion of Tiran and Sanafir agreement to be broadcast?

In a surprise on the same scale as Brazil’s 7-1 loss at the World Cup, House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal reportedly approved yesterday broadcasting the discussion on the Saudi-Egypt maritime border demarcation agreement, unnamed MPs tell Al Mal. According to the sources, the decision is meant to “increase transparency” on the debate of the contentious deal. Abdel Aal had referred the agreement to the House Constitutional and Legislative Committee last week, but the committee has yet to set a date for its discussion of the agreement. Parliamentary sessions have not been broadcast since January 2016, when a majority of MPs voted to temporarily halt airing their sessions.

Parliament reportedly looking to extend its mandate

Members of the House of Representatives may vote to take a shorter summer break, extending their current legislative session past its scheduled end in June to address a backlog of legislation MPs have yet to consider, parliamentary sources tell Al Shorouk.

National Security

Military Chief of Staff meets with Kuwaiti counterpart

Armed Forces Chief of Staff Gen. Mahmoud Hegazy met with his Kuwaiti counterpart, Mohamed Ahmed Al-Khader, in Cairo on Monday for security talks, Al Masry Al Youm reports.

On Your Way Out

One person was killed and 10 injured on Saturday after a sanitation worker ruptured a gas pipeline just before the turnoff onto New Cairo’s Road 90. The fire burned for nearly two hours before firefighters, police and the military brought it under control.

The editor-in-chief of Vogue Arabia left her post after only two print issues of the magazine, the Associated Press reports. Saudi princess Deena Aljuhani Abdulaziz had led the project since its web launch last fall and its March inaugural print edition.

The markets yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 18.0341 | Sell 18.1371
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 18.05 | Sell 18.15
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.95 | Sell 18.05

EGX30 (Thursday): 12,967 (-0.1%)
Turnover: EGP 646 mn (43% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +5.0%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session down 0.1%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended down 0.5%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were: Eastern Co. up 2.4%, Juhayna up 1.6%, and Ezz Steel up 1.5%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks included: Egyptian Resorts down 2.6%, TMG Holding down 1.8% and ACC down 1.2%. The market turnover was EGP 646 million, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +35.6 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -20.9 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -14.7 mn

Retail: 66.6% of total trades | 62.0% of buyers | 71.3% of sellers
Institutions: 33.4% of total trades | 38.0% of buyers | 28.7% of sellers

Foreign: 13.3% of total | 16.1% of buyers | 10.6% of sellers
Regional: 20.0% of total | 18.3% of buyers | 21.6% of sellers
Domestic: 66.7% of total | 65.6% of buyers | 67.8% of sellers

WTI: USD 52.70 (+0.09%)
Brent: USD 55.36 (-0.95%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.16 MMBtu, (+0.03%, May 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,285.70 / troy ounce (-0.48%)

TASI: 7,076.9 (-0.3%) (YTD: -1.9%)
ADX: 4,518.1 (-0.8%) (YTD: -0.6%)
DFM: 3,509.3 (-0.9%) (YTD: -0.6%)
KSE Weighted Index: 416.4 (-0.9%) (YTD: +9.6%)
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20 April (Thursday): Closing date for the Egyptian Mineral Resources Authority bid round number 1 for 2017 for gold and associated minerals.

22-24 April (Wednesday-Friday): Food Africa, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo.

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.

26-27 April (Wednesday-Thursday): Corporate Governance Case Study Workshops by the Egyptian Private Equity Association and IFC.

28-29 April (Friday-Saturday): Pope Francis visits Cairo.

28 April – 08 May (Friday-Monday): IMF delegation visit to Egypt to assess economic reforms.

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

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

05-07 May (Friday-Sunday): Egypt Property Show, DWTC, Dubai.

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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