Sunday, 11 June 2017

USD 5.5 bn in FDI for renewable energy industry?

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

Erdogan wants us to give him a present for Eid El-Fitr: Mend fences with Qatar. That’s right, folks: The Qatar Show, our favorite Ramadan serial, continues to unfold. While Erdogan sent out his Eid wish list, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi feels vindicated by the whole affair. The Statelet has hired former Bush administration attorney general John Ashcroft on a USD 2.5 mn contract to represent it. Iran has offered Qatar the use of its ports. And all parties continued to exchange barbs all weekend long. Oh, and it seems Qatar isn’t on the verge of kicking Egyptians out of the country: “Nationals of countries that cut diplomatic ties with Qatar this week are free to remain in the Gulf state in line with existing regulations,” Reuters quotes Qatar’s state news agency as saying. We have more in Diplomacy and Egypt in the News this morning.

As part of the offensive, Egypt, the UAE, Saudi and Bahrain issued a terror blacklist, naming 59 people (including 18 Qataris, one of them a senior member of the royal family) and at least 12 groups as financiers of terror. The UAE’s The National has the full list.

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is due in Berlin today for what the domestic press is positioning as a business-centric trip. Expect the situation in Qatar to come up for discussion, too. We have more in Speed Round, below.

The House of Representatives will (once again) discuss the handover of Tiran and Sanafir to Saudi Arabia in sessions beginning today. Again, more in Speed Round, below.

Kicking the robots in the, uhm, teeth: “Mutual fund managers facing mounting competition from passive investment products amid years of underperformance finally have something to brag about,” the Financial Times wrote on Friday. “Goldman Sachs research shows that 52 per cent of funds that focus on large-cap stocks have beaten their benchmarks since the start of 2017. If the trend held steady, it would mark the first time the hit rate has exceeded 50 per cent since 2009. The brightening performance, which would represent a sharp uptick from the grim 19 per cent hit rate notched up last year, has come as managers have [tipped] the technology, consumer discretionary and healthcare sectors. The trio represent the top-performing S&P 500 sectors this year, with price returns of 20.1 per cent, 11.5 per cent, and 9.7 per cent, respectively.” The best-performing class? Growth funds, up 12.5% compared with a 2.4% gain for value funds.

Color us geeks, but the history of board games is strangely fascinating. Our resident nine-year-old’s newfound love of Monopoly prompted us to read the Wall Street Journal’s review of It’s All a Game: The History of Board Games from Monopoly to Settlers of Catan. Which led to the purchase of said book, which is turning out to be reasonably good — light on narrative arc, as the WSJ suggests, but a fun history of where some of our favorite childhood games came from.

So, when do we eat? Maghrib prayers are at 6:56pm CLT in Cairo, and the cutoff time for sohour is 3:08am

What We’re Tracking This Week

It’s looking set to be a busy week on the legislative and regulatory fronts:

The stamp tax on capital market transactions could come into effect this week, an unnamed senior Finance Ministry official tells Youm7. The levyawaits approval by the president and publication in the Official Gazette once the executive regulations governing it are finalized.

The House of Representatives will discuss the Labor Act in a plenary session on Thursday, 15 June, Al Shorouk quotes Manpower Minister Mohamed Saafan as having said. The House held final review sessions with representatives of labor and business during the last three days of May, according to Saafan. The Labor Unions Act, meanwhile, will be discussed in “national dialogue” sessions at the House Manpower Committee starting 15 July.

A World Bank delegation will visit Egypt this week for talks on Egypt’s investment map, Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr said, without giving further details, according to Al Shorouk.

The Finance Minister will issue USD 650 mn in one-year, USD-denominated treasury bills to domestic and foreign financial institutions, Reuters reports. The auction deadline is tomorrow.

Telecom Egypt is expected to sign a final domestic roaming agreement with Etisalat Misr this week, an ICT Ministry source tells Youm7.

On The Horizon

The Investment Ministry will submit draft executive regulations for the Investment Act within a month, Minister Sahar Nasr said, according to Reuters.

Central Bank officials will be meeting after Eid Al-Fitr with representatives from companies that are yet to settle pre-EGP float liabilities of more than USD 5 mn, the Secretary General of the Union of Egyptian Investors Association tells Al Borsa. The CBE had mediated an agreement in February for companies with liabilities below the USD 5 mn cutoff.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

As the battle over Tiran and Sanafir moves to the House of Representatives today, it was natural that this become the issue of note in the airwaves. We expect that it will continue to dominate news and talk shows until it is settled (we have more in the Speed Round).

Kol Youm’s Amr Adib urged MPs to live broadcast the debate in the spirit of transparency (watch, runtime 4:02). Rep. Mostafa Bakry told Adib that the House has a constitutional right and mandate to review the agreement with Saudi Arabia and sanction or refuse it. Bakry said that Egypt’s maritime borders, which were last defined under Hosni Mubarak’s rule in 1990 and sanctioned by the UN, exclude the two islands (watch, runtime 12:17).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

Inflation falls in May: Annual urban consumer headline inflation fell to 29.7% in May, down from 31.5% in April, according to CAPMAS, while monthly urban inflation rate was unchanged from April at 1.7%. Food price inflation eased slightly, dropping to 41.1% in May. Annual core inflation eased to 30.57% in May from 32.06% in April, going up by 1.99% on a monthly basis from 1.10% in April, according to the CBE. A research note from Pharos Holding’s Ramy Oraby notes that the easing is “partly due to the favorable base effect from the corresponding period last year.

The drop in the headline annual rate was the first reversal since the EGP float last November, Tarek El Tablawy and Ahmed Feteha write in Bloomberg. “The drop in the annual figure in May is probably temporary, and is mainly driven by the stability of the exchange rate used to calculate customs … The stagnation of the monthly rate, however, shows that inflationary pressures are still there,” Arqaam Capital Senior Economist Reham El Desoki says. El Desoki expects says inflation could inch up again in June with the seasonal impact of Ramadan and could tick up again in July “as a result of expected increases in electricity prices and the effect of the increase in the rate of the new value-added tax.” The VAT is due to rise to 14% in 1 July from 13% today.

Electricity subsidies might still be with us beyond 2019: The government is considering extending its timeline for the phase-out of electricity subsidies by another two or three years instead of having them removed entirely by 2019, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker said, according to Reuters. The delay would be to reduce the burden of additional price increases, Ministry spokesperson Ayman Hamza says, explaining that the subsidies could remain in effect until 2021 or 2022. Shaker had said the government has not yet decided on the price hikes set to take effect on 1 July with the new state budget year, but said the government has ruled out leaving the prices unchanged.

INVESTMENT WATCH- The Ismail cabinet voted on Thursday to green-light a plan from Canada’s SkyPower to develop a 3 GW solar PV project. The USD 5 bn project was originally signed during the March 2015 Egypt Economic Development Conference, and was resurrected earlier this year.

The news came as the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has approved a USD 500 mn framework to finance renewable energy projects in Egypt, the institution said in a statement. “The financing, approved by the EBRD’s Board of Directors on 7 June 2017, supports the development of private renewable energy projects under the Egyptian government’s feed-in-tariff programme. That program aims to stimulate private investment in over 4 GW of wind and solar power.” EBRD’s board approved 13 projects under the same framework and three others are scheduled for discussion later this month. In total the 16 power plants would deliver 750 MW of solar photovoltaic capacity and are expected to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 900k tonnes a year. “We have been working with the Egyptian authorities since 2014 to help them fulfil their ambitious goals in this area. We are delighted now to be in a position to commit very significant financing to projects, which we expect to start construction before the end of 2017. This progress is really a tribute to the Egyptian government’s sustained commitment to making the best use of their abundant solar and wind resources to move to a more diverse and sustainable energy sector,” said Harry Boyd-Carpenter, head of power and energy at EBRD.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Food discovery platform Elmenus has closed a USD 1.5 mn Series A funding round with an investment from Algebra Ventures, the company said in a statement (pdf). Our friends at Elmenus will use the funding “to build new features that facilitate for users to order their food online and will continue focusing on solving the bigger problem of dining decisions; using an AI-powered food recommendation engine on top of a social and visual experience that will help users make the best dining decision, every time,” said CEO Amir Allam. Algebra’s Ziad Mokhtar, who will join the company’s board of directors, said, “Considering that prior to our investment, Elmenus had seen only USD 60k in funds invested, the traction they’ve achieved — in terms of users, revenues, content — is impressive. With this investment, Elmenus is well-poised to grab a substantial stake in the digital food space which is dominated globally by the likes of Just Eat, Zomato, and Delivery Hero.”

Ride-sharing apps Uber and Careem were allegedly asked by the Sisi administration to divulge real-time user and driver data, writes Declan Walsh in an epic piece for the New York Times. He alleges that the government offered both companies incentives and advantages in exchange for sharing the data. Uber, “already reeling from accusations of overly aggressive business practices in the United States,” reportedly refused the request right away, but Walsh cites sources saying Careem held a number of meetings to entertain the idea, something the company has since denied. In any case, company attempts to avoid providing data may be moot: A bill now before the House of Representatives to regulate the industry contains provisions that would require servers be stored in Egypt — and that access be granted to relevant government bodies, writes Walsh.

One of the international companies that wants to build the Six of October monorail is under fire at home and abroad. Canada’s Bombardier faces a World Bank investigation of whether it engaged in or condoned bribery to land a USD 340 mn contract to supply railway equipment in Azerbaijan, the Globe and Mail reported this weekend. If the World Bank’s auditors determine Bombardier engaged in “corrupt practices” it could be banned from work on any project financed — in whole or in part — by the bank. None of the allegations against the high-profile aircraft and train maker have been proven. Meanwhile, the New York Times is reporting that production problems with Bombardier cars are one of the reasons that “New York City’s C train has become one of the low points in its subway system.” Bombardier is also reportedly facing problems with metro and streetcar projects in both Montreal and Toronto. Egyptian officials are yet to make an official announcement that a consortium including Bombardier has won the Six of October to Giza monorail project. The group was originally said to have won the contract in 2015, only to later find it faced competition from a Chinese group. The Transport Ministry was said in April to be on the verge of awarding Bombardier a contract to study the monorail project.

GASC insists zero-tolerance policy on ergot isn’t coming back: The General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) is adamant that Egypt’s zero-tolerance on ergot contamination in wheat imports is not about to make a return. GASC Vice Chairman Ahmed Youssef told Reuters on Saturday that the administrative court’s ruling of last Tuesday, which reinstated the Agriculture Quarantine Authority (the body that had imposed the zero-tolerance policy), was purely an administrative and procedural ruling and would have no real impact on policy. The news comes as Egypt bought 360k tonnes of wheat from Russia and Romania, Al Mal reports, bringing to about 500k tons Egypt’s total purchases in the last month. Egypt does not typically wheat import during the domestic harvest season, but Reuters suggests the buying spree is coming ahead of a possible policy showdown ahead of the next court session on Tuesday.

The Ismail government signed off on amendments to the Companies Act during its weekly meeting on Thursday, according to a statement. The amendments, which were first instituted by the Investment Ministry last month, would see companies required to make a first call for a general assembly at least 21 days in advance. The amendments also include a new clause governing sole proprietorships, which aims to encourage SMEs, in addition to putting in place a system to allow companies to be established electronically. Other key decisions taken during the meeting include:

  • Agreeing to study the possibility of establishing a holding company to collect and recycle waste within three months;
  • Approving amendments to the Civil Status Act to connect citizens’ national ID number with the services they are entitled to;
  • Approving amendments to the law establishing the National Authority for Quality Assurance and Accreditation of Education;

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi arrives in Berlin today for what officials are describing as alargely business-focused visit, according to Al Masry Al Youm. The president’s packed agenda includes a speech at two-day G20 Africa Partnership Conference that kicks off tomorrow. He will also participate in a roundtable discussion with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other African leaders on infrastructure investment in Africa and public-private partnership agreements. German executives will also be at the meeting, including Siemens CEO Joe Kaeser, who will brief attendees on his company’s partnership with the Egyptian government on energy projects.

EUR 207 mn’s worth of new agreements: El Sisi is expected to sign new agreements worth a collective EUR 207 mn during meetings with German business leaders, according to Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr, who’s accompanying the president.

Egyptian-German Business Forum to launch: The president will also kick-off the Egyptian-German Business Forum, with more than 150 German and Egyptian companies in attendance, Egypt’s ambassador to Berlin tells AMAY. The Forum will be co-headed by Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Tarek Kabil and German Economic Affairs and Energy Minister Brigitte Zypries.

El Sisi will also be holding one-on-ones with Merkel and other officials including Vice Chancellor and Foreign Affairs Minister Sigmar Gabriel and the ministers of interior, economic affairs and energy, and economic cooperation and development.

We’ll also be on the lookout for an interview with El Sisi on German TV.

The House Legislative Committee is to begin discussion today of the handover of Tiran and Sanafir. The session will be headed by House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal, Youm7 says. MPs are expected to debate whether or not the agreement should be discussed by the House as a whole, since the Administrative Court had nullified it back in January, according to Al Mal.

Things appear to be moving forward regardless: The House’s majority bloc, the Support Egypt coalition, said in a Friday statement that MPs have the right to review the agreement. Representatives also plan to ask a number of senior state officials to testify before the Legislative Committee this week, sources tell the newspaper, adding that the agreement could be moving over to the House’s general assembly as early as next week.

The House is likely to sanction the agreement, officials also tell Al Shorouk. In parallel, there appears to be an effort by the state to present MPs with evidence backing the contention that the two islands are legitimately part of Saudi Arabia and should be handed over, Youm7 reports.

Is Sudan reconsidering its ban on Egyptian imports? Yes, according to Sky News Arabia, which cites unnamed sources as suggesting Sudan might backtrack on the ban it imposed on Egyptian imports last month. This comes one week after Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour met with his Egyptian counterpart and Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi for largely positive but inconclusive talks on issues including the ban, national security, and claims that Egypt had helped armed Sudanese rebels.

Tit for tat? Egyptian and Ethiopian diplomats have asked the UN’s Security Council to suspend the International Criminal Court’s arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir, who is accused of committing war crimes and crimes against humanity, Africa News claims.

Among the international news stories worth a look this morning:

Theresa May’s snap election backfires: British Prime Minister Theresa May lost her majority in parliament after her ruling Conservative Party failed to secure the “smashing victory” she was expecting in a snap election, the New York Times reports. The election, which was held less than two weeks before May is expected to begin negotiating Brexit terms, resulted in a “hung parliament” where no party has enough seats to control parliament. BBC breaks down what exactly a hung parliament means and what the road ahead looks like.

Trump accuses former FBI director of lying under oath after fiery congress testimony: US President Donald Trump accused former FBI director James Comey of lying under oath in the wake of Comey’s blockbuster Thursday testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee, Reuters reports. Comey publicly accused Trump of trying to halt a federal investigation into former aide Michael Flynn’s alleged ties to Russia and said that Trump had asked him when he was first sworn in to “pledge loyalty to the president, an unusual request that would put in doubt the independence of the FBI,” the newswire says. The accusations are “devastating to President Trump,” says The Washington Post, as they make him out to be “a liar who sought to halt the federal investigation into a former top aide and putting him in dire legal peril.”

Worth Watching

Do encoders dream of electric sheep? (Or, how do you "teach" AI to watch a film?). We are now another step closer to Skynet. Far from teaching computers to want to destroy us all, this time AI has been taught to watch, recognize, and reconstruct a movie file. That’s right: AI is being taught to become a filmmaker. London-based machine learning researcher Terence Broad taught an algorithm how to recognize patterns that distinguish the movie Blade Runner from other films, encode it and then decompress it — a process which creates the size, format, and data for media files and allows us to play it back. Board’s computer replicated footage from Blade Runner so well that Warner Bros/ issued a DMCA takedown notice to the video streaming website Vimeo because it couldn’t tell the difference, according to Vox. This is particularly ironic given Blade Runner is about androids who cannot be distinguished from humans. You can watch the AI’s trailer side-by-side with the original trailer here (runtime: 3:09).

Egypt in the News

Once again, the drama with Qatar is what’s on everyone’s mind when it comes to both Egypt and the Middle East. Leading coverage of Egypt is the notion that President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s repeated statements on Qatar’s financing of militants have been vindicated. Pressure from Egypt and the GCC may push Qatar to go as far and expelling Ikhwan members hiding out in Doha, Hamza Hendawi writes for The Associated Press. Positioning Egypt along a unified front with the other GCC states could help revive the Gulf’s interest in keeping Egypt’s economy moving, according to Hendawi. He does point to the possible risk of cutting off Egypt from USD mns in remittances from expats in Qatar.

Most other articles rehash old talk of the US’ reactions to the blockade, including a piece from the Wall Street Journal on how its backing of the alliance against Qatar could inflame regional sectarian conflicts. Others again focused on Al Jazeera being at the heart of the Qatar campaign and the risks the channel faces of being wrist-slapped. AP is also picking up on the pseudo-journalism outlet claiming that it has been the subject of increasing cyberattacks since the blockade commenced.

47k NGOs, 21 websites, one lawyer and a partridge in a pear tree: Non-Qatar coverage isn’t going Egypt’s way this morning, with reports and opinion pieces on Egypt’s human rights record popping up over the weekend. We begin with the latest hatchet job from The Economist, which has woken up from a month-long slumber to recap everything from Khaled Ali’s arrest to the NGO Law and the possibility of Parliament discussing a social media registration bill. It tops it off with the ever familiar trope of Donald Trump giving the Egyptian and other regional government the green light to clampdown on human rights — and concludes with the familiar notion that the US could condition aid on progress on the human rights front. German outlet DW at least gets specific enough to discuss the nitty gritty details of the NGO Law. It juxtaposes the passage of the law with statements made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel during her visit here in March in support of civil society.

A twofer from the people at Carnegie: Also joining the NGO Law hate parade is a piece from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace that called the crackdown on human rights a waste of resources that could have been brought to bear on terrorists instead of activists. Meanwhile, Zeinab Abul-Magd writes for the think tank that the military is relying on food charity during Ramadan to ease public discontent and maintain political stability, emulating a tactic used under former president Hosni Mubarak that is simply not financially feasible in the long run.

The New York Times continued its series of pieces on the fiftieth anniversary of the Six-Day war. “The story of 1967 is one that Egyptians should explore and remember with nuance and sophistication — and reality. And yet that is not the story that we tell,” Nael El Toukhy writes. He says “in the Egyptian story, even the simplified one, nothing is mentioned about the Egyptian civilians who lived or died or resisted Israeli occupation in the cities around the Suez Canal; nothing is told about the Egyptian civilians who became refugees.” El Toukhy laments that individuals “don’t matter in these narratives,” saying it could explain why the occupation of the West Bank has been neglected in the Egyptian version of the tale. He says “it seems that what matters in conventional national narratives, rather than the boring facts, is the art of storytelling.”

On Deadline

The House’s discussion of the Tiran and Sanafir handover agreement is, at this moment in time, unwise — particularly in light of recent regional developments and the political sensitivity of the topic both inside and outside Egypt, Hamdy Rizk writes in Al Masry Al Youm. Rizk reminds us of the protests that were sparked by the contentious agreement — not to mention the rift with Saudi Arabia, whose support in the fight against terrorism is crucial right now. It would be wise for the House to at least put off its discussions until after the Supreme Constitutional Court issues a final verdict on the validity of the agreement and whether or not the House has the right to discuss it, Rizk says.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Egypt asks UN to investigate Qatar for funding terror groups: Egypt has asked the United Nation’s Security to Council on Thursday to officially investigate claims that Qatar broke with Council resolutions and paid ransom to an Iraqi terror group, Reuters reports. "It is everywhere in the news that Qatar paid up to USD 1 bn to a terrorist group active in Iraq in order to release members of its royal family," senior Egyptian UN diplomat Ihab Moustafa Awad Moustafa told the Security Council.Qatari diplomats denied the accusations, maintaining that the country upholds the UN’s directives.

The news coincides with Saudi Arabia publishing a list of 12 entities and 59 individuals with alleged links to terror groups and Qatar, Bloomberg says. The document, which was endorsed by Egypt, UAE, and Bahrain names various Qatari charity groups as well as regional political groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Benghazi Defense Brigade in Libya. Among the individuals listed is Egyptian-born, Ikhwan-affiliated cleric Yusuf Al Qaradawi.

Meanwhile, Qatar’s envoy to Egypt left the country on Thursday as the 48-hour deadline given to him expired, Ahram Online reports.

Confusion from the Trump administration over Qatar: The US government sent mixed signals over the weekend on its policy towards Qatar. President Donald Trump supported the diplomatic and economic blockade of Qatar, declaring that the country had been a long time backer of terrorist organizations at a White House news conference on Friday. An hour earlier, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson sent a much tempered message, calling on Egypt and the GCC to ease their blockade on Qatar. He said that the blockade carried humanitarian implications, would hurt US efforts to battle ISIS and US companies doing business there. He acknowledged Qatar’s role in funding terrorism, and urged it to do more to stop financing. Bloomberg suggests this is a deliberate Good Cop, Bad Cop tactic.

Trump’s message of support was relayed to President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in a phone call on Friday.El Sisi also met on Thursday with Bahrain’s King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, during which the two leaders discussed the blockade.

Separately, Chad and Niger joined the party late, and recalled their ambassadors from Qatar for consultations on Thursday and Saturday, a day after a similar move by Senegal, Reuters reports.

Qatar remains defiant: Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed Al Thani said that his country will not respond to such “baseless” accusations. "Our position on countering terrorism is stronger than many of the signatories of the joint statement – a fact that has been conveniently ignored by the authors," the Qataris, according to Reuters. This apparently does not apply to Hamas, which the Qatari government continued to voice support, calling it a “legitimate resistance movement,” according to the Times of Israel. This follows another declaration on Thursday where Qatar said it would ride out the isolation and vowed not to surrender.

Meanwhile, a House of Representatives delegation arrived in Washington yesterday to lobby members of Congress to support a bill designating the Ikhwan as a terrorist organization, Al Mal reports. The 14-member delegation, which is in DC until Tuesday, will also meet with representatives from think tanks to discuss politics in Egypt, including the recently ratified NGO act.

France supports Egypt’s policy reforms and French investments in Egypt, Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said, according to Al Shorouk. Le Drian discussed with FM Sameh Shoukry cooperation in fighting terrorism and in resolving regional conflicts including in Libya. Shoukry said both countries agree on regional and international issues, according to Al Shorouk. France stands with Egypt against terrorism that hit both countries, Le Drian said.

As for security cooperation talks, Le Drian said that the two countries had firmed up security ties, Le Drian said, according to Reuters. Le Drian’s visit was the second by a French minister last week, coming after Defense Minister Sylvie Goulard’s talks with her Egyptian counterpart Sedky Sobhi on Monday on how to reinforce security cooperation including the best way to enhance monitoring of Egypt’s borders.

Egypt and Belarus want to increase cooperation in agricultural manufacturing including the supply of beef and poultry, and agriculture and irrigation projects, Belarusian Telegraph Agency reports. A delegation from Egypt’s National Service Products Organization’s food safety department met with Agriculture and Food Minister Leonid Zayats in Belarus to discuss the projects. 100 tonnes of Belarusian powdered milk has so far been delivered to Egypt. Belarus also wants to export cheese, butter, and whole milk products to Egypt. A Belarusian delegation is set to visit Egypt in July for talks on agricultural projects.

Energy

Arrears to IOCs brought down to USD 2.3 bn

Egypt has brought down arrears owed to IOCs to USD 2.3 bn, the Oil Ministry said, according to Reuters. The Ministry said it repaid USD 2.2 bn in the past three weeks. Egypt has pledged to eliminate all arrears owed to IOCs by the end of June 2019, Reuters notes.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt to import timber from African markets for the first time

Manufacturers of wood products will be importing timber from African countries for the first time, Federation of Egyptian Industries’ wood manufacturing division chairman Ahmed Helmi said, according to Al Masry Al Youm. Importing from African countries cuts the import costs by 40% compared to Europe, he says.

Real Estate + Housing

Heliopolis Housing records EGP 71.1 mn in sales in May

Heliopolis Company for Housing & Development announced EGP 71.1 mn in sales from its three projects in May. The company sold units worth EGP 34.3 mn in New Heliopolis, EGP 24.7 mn from the project in Sheraton, and EGP 12.1 mn from its project in Obour.

Tourism

Tourism Ministry is making online booking available for Nile cruises

The Tourism Ministry will be allowing booking passage on Nile cruises through online platforms such as Expedia, Minister Yehia Rashed tells Al Shorouk. Tourists have been increasingly interested in such trips in Luxor and Aswan, he added.

Automotive + Transportation

Investment, Transportation ministers discuss railway offers with GE, Siemens

Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr and Transportation Minister Hisham Arafat reviewed General Electric’s offer to supply 100-200 train cars as part of Egypt’s railway development project with GE Egypt’s CEO Ayman Khattab, according to an Investment Ministry statement. The company’s offer will see 35% of the train cars manufactured in Egypt. Nasr and Arafat also met with Siemens executives to discuss the company’s offer to manufacture and supply 100 locomotives.

NAT signs EUR 24.2 mn contracts for Cairo Metro Line 3 equipment with Thales

The National Authority for Tunnels (NAT) signed two contracts with French company Thales worth a combined EUR 24.2 mn for equipment for phase 3 and phase 4B of Cairo Metro Line 3, Al Shorouk reports. The equipment includes ticketing machines and turnstiles, which will be installed in 15 stops of the metro line.

Banking + Finance

CBE, EFSA to conduct study on financial inclusion in Egypt

Central bank Governor Tarek Amer signed an agreement to conduct a study on financial inclusion in Egypt with Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority chairman Sherif Samy, according to a CBE statement. The study will lead to the drafting of a plan for financial inclusion policies that need to be implemented. No date was given for the completion of the report, set to be the first official report on financial inclusion in Egypt.

NBE hikes interest rates on CDs and savings accounts

The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) raised interest rates on its short-term certificates of deposit by 100 bps to 7.5% for one-week CDs and 100 bps for the longest-term under one year, Al Borsa said on Saturday. Rates on savings accounts have also increased by 60-75 bps.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Foreign investments in T-bills, FDI up, budget deficit down – Kouchouk, Nasr

Foreign investment in Egypt’s debt market climbed to USD 8.4 bn since the EGP float, Vice Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk tells Reuters. Foreigners had bought EGP 145.5 bn worth of treasuries on 6 June, according to the Finance Ministry’s head of public debt Sami Khallaf, the newswire adds. This comes as Egypt managed to attract USD 6.8 bn in foreign direct investment from January to April 2017, Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasr said, according to a ministry statement. Separately, Egypt’s primary budget deficit for the current fiscal year is expected to stand at EGP 60 bn in FY2016-17, coming in at around 1.7-1.8% of total GDP, according to Vice Minister of Finance Ahmed Kouchouk, AMAY reports. This figure is down from 3.6% last year and an average of 6% in previous years, Kouchouk adds. The government is looking to turn things and is targeting a surplus of EGP 11 bn in FY2017-18 — around 0.3% of GDP, according to the budget draft.

Finance Ministry considering tax increases on cigarettes

The Finance Ministry is looking into raising taxes on cigarettes by EGP 0.50-2.00 per pack, Al Borsa reports. The newspaper quotes an unnamed ministry source as suggesting the tax hike will not come into effect in July with the beginning of the new state fiscal year.

Finance Minister orders shakeup within tax-dispute resolution committees

Finance Minister Amr El Garhy appointed new members to the government’s tax-dispute resolution committees, AMAY reports.

Sisi meets with heads of media regulatory bodies

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met with the heads of newly established regulators of both state and private media in Egypt to discuss efforts to help the domestic press “meet international standards,” Al Mal reports.

National Security

Interior Ministry raises security alert level

The Interior Ministry has decided to raise its security alert level in anticipation of possible terror attacks as a reaction to “the current situation in the region,” a ministry source tells MENA news agency, according to Ahram Online. The source said that security measures have been tightened at vital state facilities, religious sites and houses of worship, tourist sites, and crossings to and from Sinai.

On Your Way Out

Wonder Woman (not yet in Egyptian cinemas, to the nine-year-old’s chagrin) has “pounded Tom Cruise’s The Mummy to dust” in its opening weekend, Deadline reports. Wonder Woman is getting 93% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes. The New York Times gave it a positive note, the New Yorker is a ridiculously pretentious fan of the flick, and the Guardian simply notes that it is “a gloriously badass breath of fresh air.”

And, speaking of action heroes, Adam West, the original batman, has died at age 88. The New York Times has a nice (if short-ish) obit.

The markets yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 18.0379 | Sell 18.1397
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 18.05 | Sell 18.15
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.95 | Sell 18.05

EGX30 (Thursday): 13,648 (+0.4%)
Turnover: EGP 1.0 bn
EGX 30 year-to-date: +10.8%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session up 0.4%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended up 0.6%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were: Qalaa Holdings up 3.7%, Emaar Misr up 3.3%, and Arab Cotton Ginning up 2.3%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were: Pioneers Holding down 1.5%, SODIC down 1.3%, and Juhayna down 1.3%. The market turnover was EGP 1.0 bn, and foreign investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Long | EGP +117.5 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -50.3 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -67.3 mn

Retail: 59.1% of total trades | 56.7% of buyers | 61.4% of sellers
Institutions: 40.9% of total trades | 43.3% of buyers | 38.6% of sellers

Foreign: 25.2% of total | 30.8% of buyers | 19.6% of sellers
Regional: 12.2% of total | 9.8% of buyers | 14.6% of sellers
Domestic: 62.5% of total | 59.4% of buyers | 65.8% of sellers

WTI: USD 45.83 (+0.42%)
Brent: USD 48.15 (+0.61%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 3.04 MMBtu, (+0.36%, July 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,217.40 / troy ounce (-0.63%)

TASI: 6,865.48 (-1.17%) (YTD: -4.78%)
ADX: 4,476.57 (+0.50%) (YTD: -1.54%)
DFM: 3,400.10 (-0.17%) (YTD: -3.70%)
KSE Weighted Index: 400.23 (-0.05%) (YTD: +5.30%)
QE: 9,237.68 (+3.04%) (YTD: -11.49%)
MSM: 5,354.77 (-0.42%) (YTD: -7.40%)
BB: 1,323.47 (+0.20%) (YTD: +8.44%)

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Calendar

26 May-23 June (Friday-Friday): Window for firms to submit expressions of interest to the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development for consulting on Egypt’s oil and gas sector reform, London, UK.

22 June (Thursday): Nile Summit scheduled to be held in Uganda.

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

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

06 July (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee to review policy rates.

13-15 July (Thursday-Saturday): AGRENA’s 19th Annual Poultry, Livestock, and Fish show, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo.

15-19 July (Saturday-Wednesday): SSIGE’s GeoMEast 2017 International Congress and Exhibition, Sharm El Sheikh.

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

03-05 August (Thursday-Saturday): Watrex Expo Middle East, Cairo International Exhibition & Convention Center.

17 August (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee to review policy rates.

26 August (Saturday): 27th Egyptian-Jordanian Joint Higher Committee meeting, Amman Jordan. (TBC).

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.

18-19 September (Monday-Tuesday): Euromoney Egypt conference, venue TBD.

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).

25-27 September (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Downstream Summit and Exhibition, Kempinski Royal Maxim Palace, Cairo.

28 September (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee to review policy rates.

03-05 October (Tuesday-Thursday): J.P. Morgan’s Credit and Equities Emerging Markets Conference, London, UK.

18-19 October (Wednesday-Thursday): Middle East Info Security Summit, Sofitel El Gezirah, Cairo.

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

11-12 October (Wednesday-Thursday): 2030 Mega Projects Conference, Nefertiti Hall, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo.

11-13 October (Wednesday-Friday): Middle East and Africa Rail Show, Cairo International Convention Center, Cairo.

18-20 October (Wednesday-Friday): AfriLabs annual gathering with the theme “Smart Cities,” The French University, Cairo. Register here.

16 November (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee to review policy rates.

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

03-05 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Solar-Tec, Cairo International Exhibition & Convention Centre.

03-05 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Electrix, Cairo International Exhibition & Convention Centre.

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

28 December (Thursday): Central Bank of Egypt’s Monetary Policy Committee to review policy rates.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2018 Enterprise Ventures LLC.