Sunday, 7 May 2017

Egypt is the sixth most-expensive place in the world to buy an iPhone


What We’re Tracking Today

Will we have an Investment Act today? The House of Representatives is scheduled to hold its final vote on the Investment Act today, ending a long, drawn-out debate. The move comes after the deadlock last week on some of the bill’s key issues was resolved on Thursday. We have more in Speed Round, below. The House will also vote today on a 10% social welfare raise for state employees not covered under the Civil Service Act, Al Ahram reports.

AmCham’s annual Doorknock Missing to Washington, DC, ended on Friday. We have coverage of the last couple of days in a special report at the end of today’s Speed Round, below.

Following up on the drumbeat of new investment we noted in Thursday’s edition, we have news this morning of two investments worth a combined USD 800 mn. Once again, details in Speed Round.

An IMF delegation is still in town to review the Ismail government’s progress on its economic reform package. The World Bank is sending a delegation this week to meet with the government on economic reforms before disbursing the USD 1 bn third tranche of its USD 3 bn loan to Egypt, as we reported from Washington last week. The third tranche should be disbursed by year’s end.

Finance Minister Amr El Garhy is expected to announce the state’s haul from this year’stax season at a press conference scheduled today, according to Al Masry Al Youm.

The government will announce this week that GDP growth for 3Q16-17 reached 3.9%, Planning Minister Hala El Saeed told Al Mal.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is due in Kuwait today for a two-day visit during which he is expected to meet with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah. El Sisi will then head to Bahrain to hold similar talks with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

CIB removed on Thursday its cap on international use of debit cards, the bank announced in a statement. The bank had also dropped international spending limits on its credit cards last month.

The French will be heading to the polls today to elect their next president amid a potentially damaging hack against front-runner Emmanuel Macron.

The majority of our readers — like us — are bilingual, and that apparently means we all experience time “differently” because we can shift between different concepts and measurements of time in each of the languages we speak. It’s not rocket science, but if you have a moment, check out the Independent and marvel that there is so much left to study in this world.

What We’re Tracking This Week

The Trade and Industry Ministry is expected to finish the executive regulations of the Industry Permits Act this week, said Minister Tarek Kabil, according to Al Mal. The act, which would require the Industrial Development Authority respond to a request for a license within 30 days, was passed by the House of Representatives at the end of last month.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Talk of the Investment Act once again led the conversation on the airwaves last night. Hona Al Asema’s Lamees Al Hadidi focused on the conflict surrounding the moribund notion of a “one-stop shop” policy. Defending the policy was GAFI chief Mohamed Khodeir, who insisted that the policy will be in effect and will see GAFI become the go-to place for commercial licenses for companies of all forms (including factories) in addition to allocating land (watch, runtime: 9:53). Khodeir’s remarks run contrary to claims over the weekend that multiple other agencies will retain the power to allocate land to the private sector, and it’s unclear how the one-stop shop would mesh with the Industrial permits Act.

House Economic Committee member Medhat El Sherif also backed the notion of the one-stop shop, saying GAFI will issue permits if the relevant authorities do not respond to a permit request within 60 days. House Housing Committee member Alaa Waly spoke against the policy, saying an investor would work with his or her industry’s regulator anyway, seeing how it has the capacity and know-how to assess the project. EK Holding Chairman Moataz Al-Alfy came on to speak for business and said it would be better for businesses to work with the regulator for their industries.

Lamees next suggested there is a campaign afoot to postpone today’s vote on the law due to deadlock among cabinet ministers over its most contentious clauses (the biggest being the one-stop shop). Legislative Affairs Minister Omar Marwan called-in to insist that today’s plenary vote will go through as planned.

You can catch the full episode on the Act and its contentious debates with MPs here (runtime: 2:23:21).

Cabinet spokesperson Ashraf Sultan was in damage-control mode to downplay reports of conflict around the cabinet table over the law during a call-in with Kol Youm’s Amr Adib. He told Adib that the cabinet was in agreement on the law when it was approved and submitted to the House (watch, runtime: 6:58).

Adib then went on to talk about his favorite topic of the last few weeks: the presidential elections. He posited that former presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabbahy would run again and even stated that former anti-corruption boss Hisham Genena was making a run. The former head of the Central Auditing Organization subsequently told Al Shorouk that he does not plan to run for the presidency.

MP El Sayed El Sherif confirmed the House will discuss the FY 2017-18 budget on Monday in a call-in to Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Assal (watch, runtime: 13:58).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

The House of Representatives has approved all remaining articles of the InvestmentAct, according to a statement (pdf) from the Investment and International Cooperation Ministry on Thursday. The bill as a whole will now be put to a vote at the House in a plenary session today, Al Ahram reports. The Finance Ministry appears to have made its peace with the return of private-sector-run free zones, with Deputy Finance Minister Mohamed Maait telling Al Masry Al Youm that the ministry will be working on regulations to govern the zones. Establishing a private free zone would require the approval of the entire cabinet, a condition which helped win over the Finance Ministry, said Deputy Finance Minister Amr El Monayer, according to Al Mal. Deadlock on this and other contentious amendments to the law were apparently resolved during a sitdown between Prime Minister Sherif Ismail and House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal. El Monayer added that the amendment would set a cap on investment incentives at 80% of the capital invested in any one project.

The act’s executive regulations will be out within a month, Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr told Al Masry Al Youm. She made sure to point out that all ministries will be consulted during the drafting. Ministry officials also took to the local press to remind everyone that it was the House Economics Committee that raised the ceiling on investment incentives for any one project above the 40% specified in the ministry’s first draft of the act.

GAFI will not be the final arbiter of land allocation for business: The House also reportedly approved articles that would give the Trade and Industry Ministry and the CIT Ministry the authority to sell state land to the private sector, Al Mal reports. An earlier draft had granted the General Authority for Free Zones and Investments the overall power to privatize land for investment. It is still unclear how this will work given what appear to us to be conflicts with other laws including the State Lands Act, which grants ministries and authorities the right to tender land under their jurisdiction.

Foreign investors have increased their holdings in Egyptian treasury bills to USD 5.8 bn as of end of April, up from less than USD 1 bn before the EGP was floated in November, Finance Minister Amr El Garhy told President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in a meeting on Saturday. At the current exchange rate, this figure would be higher than the EGP 91.8 bn that we noted at the end of April. Foreigners also invested USD 134 mn in Egypt’s equity markets in April alone, according to an Ittihadiya statement picked up by Al Borsa.

Continuing last week’s drumbeat of investment stories: Chemplast Sanmar plans to investUSD 300 mn to “turn around” its Egyptian business, India’s LiveMint reports. “We are investing USD 300 mn in doubling our PVC capacity (in Egypt to 400k tonnes). One particular approval to build a pipeline did not come through and as a result our alternative approach was to make entire finished product there to cut our dependency on the pipeline,” the story quotes Sanmar Group Deputy Chairman Vijay Sankar as saying in an interview. The story then recaps the challenges Sanmar has faced in Egypt since its 2007 investment: “Egypt then was coming off 30 years of stable regime. Taxation was more progressive than in India and with project finance available, cost of production was low. Then all hell broke loose.” Sanmar is backed by leading Canadian investor Prem Watsa’s Fairfax (also a shareholder in CIB here in Egypt), the story notes, and is “betting on improving economic and political conditions in Egypt.”

The government signed an agreement activating the financing of Sonker’s liquid bulk terminal in Ain Sokhna, Al Masry Al Youm reported. Sonker is investing USD 500 mn to construct and operate a bulk-liquids terminal for the import and storage of gasoil and LPG in the third basin of Ain Sokhna Port. USD 320 mn of the project’s cost is being financed by IFC, EBRD and CIB. Amiral is providing the rest of the financing.

Women on unpaid maternity leave are still entitled to annual wage rises, the Supreme Constitutional Court ruled yesterday. The court was ruling in a case brought by employees of the Nasser Social Bank who argued it was unconstitutional to grant them “only part or none of their annual pay increases while on unpaid leave,” Ahram Online reports. Separately, the newspaper reports, the court ruled that early retirees are entitled to full pensions provided they paid into the state’s social insurance fund for at least 240 months. Early retirees were previously eligible for 85-95% of their total pension.

Egypt is tied with Italy as the sixth-most expensive place in the world to buy an iPhone. Deutsche Bank’s annual “Mapping the World’s Prices" report is out, and found Turkey, Brazil and Russia as the three most expensive places in which to acquire a 128 GB iPhone 7, according to Business Insider. Egypt isn’t on DB’s list, but by our math, the EGP 17,999 price of an iPhone 7 at Tradeline (our Apple-pusher of choice when shopping here at home) is the equivalent of USD 995 and change, or just about the same price as in Italy. That makes Egypt cheaper than Poland and more expensive than the Czech Republic.

Move to cash-based subsidy system won’t happen until inflation cools, El Moselhy suggests in interview with the Financial Times: Rising food prices are forcing families to rely more heavily on subsidized bread, straining an already-embattled bread subsidy system, writes Heba Saleh for the Financial Times. With food price inflation topping 41% in March, more people are dumping other staples such as rice and pasta and replacing these meals with subsidized bread. “We do need every pound [of savings] to decrease the budget deficit and improve the economy but now prices are not stable and inflation is extremely high,” Social Solidarity Minister Ali El Moselhy says. “If we stabilise inflation, I am totally with the cash subsidy. But the subsidy is to protect the poor and the needy in order to provide them with basic commodities. If we don’t achieve this objective, we would be doing something wrong.”

Saleh’s story comes as the visiting IMF delegation met with the officials at the Social Solidarity Ministry to discuss Egypt’s social safety net, including how the ministry has gotten a head start on disbursing cash subsidies, Deputy Social Solidarity Minister Nevine Qabbaj told Al Mal.

MOVES- OCI Partners LP (NYSE: OCIP) has appointed Ahmed El-Hoshy as president and CEO of the general partner effective 12 May. El-Hoshy will remain a director of the general partner and will also continue as CEO of OCI N.V. in the Americas, the company said in a statement. El-Hoshy has been with Euronext-listed OCI N.V. for seven years and now heads all investment, operations and activities in the Americas. A veteran of Goldman Sachs in New York and Dubai, El-Hoshy is a Harvard grad and succeeds Frank Bakker. OCI Partners LP owns and operates an integrated methanol and ammonia production facility on the Texas Gulf Coast near Beaumont. The partnership is headquartered in Nederland, Texas, and has a methanol production design capacity of 912,500 metric tons per year and an ammonia production design capacity of 331,000 metric tons per year.

MOVES– Porto Group’s board of directors approved on Thursday appointing Mohamed Mekkawi as the group’s new chairman and managing director, replacing founder Mansour Amer, Al Borsa reports.

German holidaymakers are returning to Egypt, according to German tourism portal FVW. The number of German tourists visiting Egypt increased by 35% y-o-y in 1Q2017. In addition, new charter airline Azur Air will launch flights from Düsseldorf in mid-June to destinations including Egypt.

No trace of explosives on EgyptAir MS804 victims: French investigators said no traces of explosives were found on the passengers of EgyptAir flight MS804 that crashed last May en route to Cairo from Paris, French newspaper Le Figaro reports. According to the report, investigators found no traces of explosives on the remains of 12 French victims. The French investigation comes at odds with statements from Egyptian investigators, who said in December that they had found traces of explosives on passengers’ bodies. Sources speaking to Le Figaro are alleging that Egypt has been trying to pin the crash on an explosion to “mask the poor maintenance of the national company’s aircraft, which is currently plagued by economic difficulties.”

Shakeup at Al Azhar: Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed El Tayeb sacked Al Azhar University President Ahmed Hosny after the latter called controversial Islamic researcher Islam El Beheiry an apostate. El Beheiry, who advocates a ‘modern’ take on many questions of Islamic jurisprudence, rose to fame via a popular night-time talk show, but was drummed off the air after a campaign by Al Azhar and other critics. He was eventually sentenced to a year in prison for the offense of “contempt of religion.” El Tayeb named Mohamed Hussein Al Mahrsawy as acting president. Hosny has since apologized for his comments.

Hamas appointed yesterday former deputy chief Ismail Haniyeh as the group’s new political leader, succeeding Khaled Meshaal, who reached his term limit, Reuters reports. The change in leadership comes less than a week after Hamas issued a new policy document cutting its ties with the Ikhwan and touting a more “moderate” tone.

A cuppa is about to get more expensive: A drought in many parts of Kenya’s farming areas has cut its 1Q2017 tea production by more than third y-o-y, according to Reuters. Pakistan, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are among the top buyers of Kenyan tea, the newswire says.

US business schools are reporting declining applications from foreign students for the first time in more than a decade, the Wall Street Journal says. Biz school types point to “the Trump administration’s immigration and work visa policies” as being behind the decline in foreign interest.

AmCham’s annual Doorknock mission wrapped up on Friday in Washington, DC, on a positive note. We joined the media delegation for a chat with outgoing AmCham President Anis Aclimandos and Omar Mohanna, chairman of the Egypt-US Business Council, for a briefing on this year’s mission. Key takeaways:

  • Overall, the delegation felt that the view of Egypt in DC is very positive — that “a new page” has been turned in Egypt-US relations. This was fueled by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s visit to the US. For the first time in years, US administration officials and members of Congress spoke of Egypt as an “ally.”
  • The delegation came seeking partnership, not aid. Egypt brings significant opportunities to the table given its large domestic market of more than 90 mn people and its network of interlocking trade agreements.
  • Egypt’s economic reform program was well received in Washington, where policymakers and lawmakers welcomed the elimination of the FX parallel market and moves to allow the repatriation of profits and capital.
  • There were concerns about the high level of inflation in Egypt, but a recognition that the economy has so far proven able to absorb shocks and that Egyptian consumers are resilient. Other concerns raised centered on savings and tax revenues as a percentage of GDP.
  • A backlog of USD 400-450 in unused US economic aid from previous budget cycles will not be recalled, which sends a positive sign.
  • The strategic dialogue between Egypt and the US will likely have a business component — a significant achievement, in our view.
  • The Doorknock delegation brought up the issue of a free-trade agreement with the US, a perennial “ask” on the Egyptian side that has in the past seen the US counter with conditionality on human rights. (We’re of two minds here: On the one hand, it’s hard to remember a president more predisposed to engage with Egypt than Trump. On the other, Trump’s skepticism of free trade is exceptionally clear.)
  • There appears to no significant US objection to reducing the minimum percentage of Israeli content in exports to the US from Qualifying Industrial Zones to 8.5% from 10.5%. That said, the delegation was told the issue must be dealt with at the political level between Egypt and Israel.
  • Creating better economic opportunities is a weapon in the war against terror. The US sees Egypt as a moderating force in the global struggle against religious extremism.
  • Concerns about human rights and lawsuits related to US NGOs were brought up.
  • The AmCham delegation held a total of 87 meetings including 54 with Congressmen, and nine with executive authorities such as the USTDA, the EXIM Bank, the Small Business Administration, and the Departments of Treasury, of Commerce, of Energy, and of State.
  • The delegation met with International Finance Corporations (the OPIC, the World Bank, and the USAID), influential figures like NY Times columnist Thomas Friedman and George Washington University scholar Nathan Brown. They also met with 16 think tanks.

Egypt’s ambassador to the US Yasser Reda also hosted the delegation at the embassy. Key takeaways:

  • A bilateral “strategic dialogue” on policy implementation is in the works. That dialogue will be run by Egypt’s minister of foreign affairs and the US secretary of state. The ambassador did not specify when the dialogue could kick off, but said he hopes it will be before autumn.
  • Reda highlighted that Egypt will benefit from credit guarantees from the US.
  • There was talk during El Sisi’s visit about a free-trade agreement between the US and Egypt, and early talks are still ongoing at the ministerial level.
  • El Sisi’s visit to Washington wasn’t to sign agreements, but to have Egypt present its views on regional matters to the new US administration while the latter is still shaping its policies.
  • El Sisi met with US companies to promote investment in Egypt. A positive political climate has an indirect effect on encouraging businesses to invest, the ambassador said.
  • Egypt did not come to the US looking for aid, but for a strategic partnership and to attract investment.

Enterprise sat with Hazem El Beblawi, executive director of the IMF and former Egyptian prime minister and finance minister, along with the media delegation accompanying the AmCham Doorknock mission. Key takeaways from the luncheon:

  • The second USD 1.25 bn tranche of the USD 12 bn facility to Egypt will be disbursed six weeks after the IMF concludes its current mission to evaluate progress on the economic reform agenda, said El Beblawi.
  • Asked whether interest rates are an effective means of transmitting and inflation-targeting monetary policy given Egypt’s large unbanked populated, El Beblawi said it is one tool that can be used as part of a larger set of economic reform policies that work together.
  • The IMF’s extended fund facility has made it easier for Egypt to access global credit markets and is a seal of approval on Egypt’s economic reform program.
  • Improving the quality of local goods is the key to boosting Egypt’s exports — it’s not just about cost-competitiveness.

State Department official describes Egypt as “major non-NATO ally”: We visited the State Department last week with the media delegation, where an official described Egypt as a “major non-NATO ally of the United States.” President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s visit was very successful, he said, adding that the US is looking forward to working with Egypt make progress on files including security, the economy, trade, and regional issues. The official suggested that talk of any specific agreement to liberalize trade between the two countries would be premature.

“The most important thing about El Sisi’s visit is that it happened”: The delegation also sat with Mirette Mabrouk, deputy director and director of research and programs at the Atlantic Council’s Rafik Hariri Center for the Middle East. “The most important thing about [President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s] visit is that it happened,” Mabrouk said, adding that it is too early to discuss what to expect of the Trump administration because it is still shaping its policies and many Department of State positions are still vacant. It’s also key to remember that Trump does not rule alone, Mabrouk said, noting that Congress will have an influence on how relations between the two countries unfold. That said, it’s clear the Trump administration is putting significant focus on security issues. Mabrouk said the US is “concerned” about what is happening in Sinai, but that it believes it is up to the Egyptian government to deal with it its own way. On fears relating protectionism, she said the US will always be open for business. The only impediments to more US companies doing business in Egypt will be security and the regulatory framework.


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Image of the Day

Mohamed Salah receives death threat in Italy: Mohamed Salah and fellow AS Roma players Radja Nainggolan and Daniele de Rossi were targeted with a death threat on Thursday, when dummies wearing the three football players’ jerseys were found hanging in a Rome street, King Fut reports. The effigies were accompanied by a banner reading, “A warning, without offense … Sleep with the lights on!” Italian police are investigating the incident.

Egypt in the News

Coverage of Egypt in the international press this morning is relatively light and neutral, ranging from the stupid (the notion of Egypt “charging” for Facebook use, courtesy the Independent) to the depressing (bread lines, from the always on-point Heba Saleh for the Financial Times).

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is “trying to neuter the courts, with the help of a pliant parliament,” The Economist writes. The newspaper says defenders of the Judicial Authorities Act argue that the government needs more power to fight terrorism and slow judicial proceedings hamper that. However, other motives could be “to block the promotion of judges who irritatingly rule against” the government, it says, pointing specifically to the likes of Yehia El Dakroury, who had been expected to become chief judge of the State Council in July, and ruled against the president’s handover of the Tiran and Sanafir Islands, as well as Anas Omara, who was next in line to lead the Court of Cassation and had revoked Ikhwan death sentences. The Economist says the Supreme Constitutional Court could reject the law altogether, “setting up a showdown with the president.”

Over at The Hill in Washington, the Middle East Forum’s Cliff Smith writes that the US mustback El Sisi, arguing that, “Egypt must be viewed through the lens of former U.N. Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick’s influential essay ‘Dictatorships and Double Standards.’ It boils down to this: when presented with the choice between a non-ideological authoritarian regime and totalitarian political ideological regime, choose the former. They are often better for America’s interests and, over time, are more likely to improve human rights and allow for democratic reforms.”

The counterpoint, in the form of This Week’s Most Insipid Hit Job on Egypt: How Sisi could wreck the Egyptian economy,” which recycles the standard crowding-out of the private sector, brink of disaster verbiage. Would that someone took the time to write a meaningful critique of Egypt’s economic policy — there would be value in that.

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

  • The region would be in better shape if the United Arab Republic (UAR) could be re-established, Neil Clark writes for Sputnik, because “had the original UAR survived the Middle East would be a very different place today.” He says it could be formed initially between Egypt, Syria and Iraq, with other countries invited to affiliate.
  • Robert Fisk thinks Egypt could turn into Iraq because, as he alleges, a “killer-militia” is being used in the fight against Daesh in Sinai.
  • Security forces killed two suspected bomb-makers during a shootout yesterday, Reuters says. The two men allegedly made bombs for terrorist groups Hasm and Lewaa El Thawra.
  • Mannequin manufacturers in Egypt have been struggling to continue practicing their craft since the EGP float, which pushed up the cost of imported raw materials used to make the shop dummies, Reuters says.
  • Eman Ahmed left her hospital in Mumbai bound for Abu Dhabi, Reuters reports. Her doctor says the medical team brought her weight below 200 kg, from 500 kg, but she would need further surgery to walk again.

Worth Watching

“I want to show people that a woman is capable of doing everything”: TRT World did a short report on Ferial Khalil, a female Egyptian truck driver. Khalil says she started driving trucks to be able to take care of herself and earn a living after being inspired when she saw a female taxi driver (runtime 01:51).

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Trade rift with Sudan escalates: Sudan refused to grant entry to some 500 Egyptian trucks until the truck drivers receive entry visas, Al Masry Al Youm reports. Sudan had issued last month an entry visa requirement for all Egyptian males aged 18-50. According to Transportation Ministry sources, Sudan has also imposed a cap on visas issued for truck drivers to 10 per day. An average of 70 truck and buses crossed into Sudan from Egypt each day before the row.

Uruguay’s President Tabaré Vázquez is visiting Egypt at the end of May, Al Masry Al Youm reports. A delegation of Uruguayan investors will accompany the president in his trip to Egypt, Uruguay’s ambassador to Egypt told members of the Cairo Chamber of Commerce.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met his Eritrean counterpart Othman Saleh in Cairo yesterday to discuss bilateral cooperation and regional issues including the situation in South Sudan, Al Mal reports.

The Egyptian-Saudi Business Council is expected to meet “within days,” Abdel Hameed Abou Moussa, who heads the Egyptian side of the council, tells Al Borsa.


Elsewedy Electric subsidiary signs contract for 356 km-long transmission lines

Elsewedy Electric’s subsidiary Elsewedy Electric for Trading & Distribution has signed an EPC contract with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company (EETC) for two 500 kV electricity transmission lines in Upper Egypt with a total length of 356 km. The contract consists of an EGP 2.02 bn tranche and another one for USD 69.1 mn. The first transition line is 180 km in length and connects East Assiut with Akhmim. The second is 176 km long and connects the East Canal with Akhmim.

Iraq loads first Egypt-bound crude cargo

Iraq said it started loading a tanker with 2 mn bbl of crude bound for Egypt, according to Reuters. The shipment would be the first under a one-year bilateral agreement under which Iraq will sell 12 mn bbl of oil to Egypt. The agreement was reached last month.

AMOC to buy condensates from Dana Gas

Alexandria Mineral Oils Company (AMOC) has reached an agreement to buy condensates produced by Dana Gas, according to Al Shorouk. The agreement will be signed within a week, AMOC’s head said. AMOC aims to refine 1,500 boe a day of Dana Gas’ condensates in its refineries for two months, increasing the amount to 4,000 boe a day thereafter.

Nooros gas field to produce 1.2 bcf/d before the end of August -El Molla

Production from Eni’s Nooros gas field will reach 1.2 bcf/d before the end of August, up from a current 920-970 mcf/d, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla tells Youm7. According to El Molla, the company is in the final phases of drilling to expand production from the field.

Egyptera grants Infinity 25-year energy production license

The Egyptian Electric Utility and Consumer Protection Agency’s (Egyptera) board of directors approved granting Infinity Solar a 25-year energy production license, Al Borsa reports. The board also approved granting five unnamed solar power companies temporary one-year licenses for energy production under the feed-in tariff program. The companies will be granted permanent licenses once they secure financing for their projects.


Egypt’s ECC, Hungary’s Organica Technologiak announce wastewater partnership

Picking up where we left off last week, Egypt’s ECC and Hungary’s Organica Technologiak have confirmed media reports they are forming a joint venture named ECC-Aquatech Co. to pursue opportunities in Egypt’s wastewater sector. The two companies said in a joint statement (pdf) that “The new company will establish a water treatment plant in Egypt with an investment value of EGP 157 mn in cooperation with the Military Operations Department of the Engineering Authority,” quoting ECC Chairman Omar Attaby. ECC is an Attaby Group company.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt was China’s fourth-largest orange export market last year, demand in 2017 good

9.5% of China’s orange imports in 2016 came from Egypt, making it our fourth-largest orange export market, according to Produce Report. South Africa was the largest exporter of oranges to China in 2016, with 32.7% of the total exports. “So far in 2017, oranges in the Chinese market were mainly imported from America, Spain and Egypt… Market demand for Egyptian oranges has always been fairly good. The price in February was rather powerful while it dropped a bit in March.” Separately, Egyptian producer Capespan says it is preparing to send its first batch of Egyptian grapes to China, according to Fresh Plaza.

New regulations to require grape producers be approved for export

New grape export protocols will require that “every grower, exporter and pack house must be approved for export,” Trade Waves’ Ahmed Hodaiby told Fresh Plaza. The reasons behind the new protocols are because of Chinese restrictions, which required Egyptian producers to step up their system for quality control, as well as European requirements to sample imports, with “20% of all Egyptian grapes are being tested at ports.” The administrative process of it all is the main challenge, Hodaiby says, even though he expects a good grape harvest.

Egypt’s cotton harvest falls short of gov’t targets

Egypt harvested 127K feddans of cotton this season, falling far below the government’s target of 250K feddans and 3% less than the 131K feddans planted last year, Al Borsa reports. Meanwhile, the government has collected 606k tonnes of local wheat as of Friday, Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy tells Al Masry Al Youm.


Trade Ministry looking into new SME industrial zone in Port Said

The Trade Ministry is looking into establishing a second SME industrial zone in Port Said, and is currently in talks with the governor over land pricing, Al Mal reports.

Telecoms + ICT

MTI signs distribution agreement with Huawei

MM Group for Industry and International Trade (MTI) announced entering into a distribution agreement with Huawei Consumer Business Group to become one of its main distributors of mobile phones in Egypt. The agreement will increase MTI’s market share in the mobile phone distribution market, MTI CEO Khaled Mahmoud said. Beltone Financial says the agreement is for a year that could be renewed at the end of the period and includes target sales of USD 100 mn in 2017, with MTI set to begin selling Huawei handsets this month.

CIT Minister meets Infor CEO to discuss Egypt expansion

CIT Minister Yasser El Kady met yesterday with Infor CEO Charles Phillips to discuss the enterprise software provider’s plans to invest in Egypt, Al Shorouk reports. No further details were provided on the timeline of the company’s expansion plans. A delegation from Infor had met last week with EGX Chief Mohamed Omran, who said the company has plans to invest as much as USD 1 bn in Egypt.

Automotive + Transportation

National Authority for Tunnels begins receiving offers for Alex tram project

The National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) has begun receiving offers for the Alexandria tram renovation project, which is being funded through the French Development Agency, Al Mal reports. NAT issued tenders for construction and finishing, power and electromechanical works, ticketing machines, and firefighting and traffic signal systems.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Court rescinds order to release Hassan Malek

A criminal court accepted yesterday an appeal against the release of Ikhwan businessman Hassan Malek and renewed his detention for an additional 45 days, Ahram Online reports. Yesterday’s ruling overturns a decision from another court on Thursday to release Malek and two co-defendants on EGP 20k bail, pending investigation on charges of sabotaging the economy.

Mahmoud El Alaily appointed new FEP head

Mahmoud El Alaily was announced on Friday as the new president of the Free Egyptians Party, following an uncontested election, Al Ahram reports. The party also announced Ahmed Samer as its new secretary-general. The announcements come amid discord within the party, which came to a head when it ejected founder Naguib Sawiris.

National Security

Daesh leader warns Egypt’s Muslims to avoid Christian gatherings, military, police establishments

A Daesh leader in Egypt warned Muslims in the country to avoid Christian gatherings and government, military, and police establishments, saying the group plans additional attacks on these “legitimate targets,” Reuters reports. The news comes as security officials found the decapitated bodies of a father and his two sons in the northern Sinai border town of Rafah. The three men had been kidnapped by Daesh. The mother of the two siblings was reportedly killed by the group last week.

On Your Way Out

The House Religious Affairs Committee approved on Thursday a bill curtailing unlicensed preachers’ powers to issue fatwas (religious edicts), Ahram Online reports. The draft law stipulates a six-month prison sentence and a EGP 5,000-10,000 fine for violators.

The markets yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 18.0376 | Sell 18.1406
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 18.05 | Sell 18.15
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.95 | Sell 18.05

EGX30 (Thursday): 12,709 (+0.8%)
Turnover: EGP 745 mn (42% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +2.9%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 index ended Thursday’s session up 0.8%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended up 0.7%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were: Emaar Misr up 2.7%, Heliopolis Housing up 2.6%, and Elsewedy Electric up 2.5%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were: Cairo Oils and Soap down 11.6%, and Juhayna down 1.2%. The market turnover was EGP 745 mn, and local investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +103.3 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +5.1 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -108.4 mn

Retail: 57.4% of total trades | 52.7% of buyers | 62.1% of sellers
Institutions: 42.6% of total trades | 47.3% of buyers | 37.9% of sellers

Foreign: 15.8% of total | 21.8% of buyers | 9.9% of sellers
Regional: 7.8% of total | 8.1% of buyers | 7.5% of sellers
Domestic: 76.4% of total | 70.1% of buyers | 82.6% of sellers

WTI: USD 46.2 (+1.54%)
Brent: USD 49.10 (+1.49%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.27 MMBtu, (+2.51%, June 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,226.90 / troy ounce (-0.14%)

TASI: 6,924.08 (-0.63%) (YTD: -3.97%)
ADX: 4,617.16 (+0.78%) (YTD: +1.56%)
DFM: 3,419.73 (+0.02%) (YTD: -3.15%)
KSE Weighted Index: 402.41 (-0.82%) (YTD: +5.87%)
QE: 9,938.28 (-0.17%) (YTD: -4.78%)
MSM: 5,475.92 (-0.30%) (YTD: -5.31%)
BB: 1,331.21 (+0.02%) (YTD: +9.08%)

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

9-11 May (Tuesday-Thursday): 2nd Egypt Oil & Gas Summit, Cairo.

10-12 May (Wednesday-Friday) The 15th Middle East & North Africa International Franchise Exhibition, AUC Downtown Greek Campus, Cairo.

10-12 May (Wednesday-Friday): RenCap’s 8th Annual Pan-Africa 1:1 Investor Conference, Lagos.

15-17 May (Monday-Wednesday): Morgan Stanley’s 3rd Annual GEMS Conference (EEMEA), London.

14-16 May (Sunday-Tuesday) CI Capital’s fifth annual Egypt Investor Conference, Gouna.

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

21 May (Sunday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee Meeting.

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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