Sunday, 27 August 2017

Trump, El Sisi speak after aid cut


What We’re Tracking Today

No hard feelings? President Abdel Fattah El Sisi spoke with US President Donald Trump on Thursday evening. Trump called to “underscore the robust friendship relations between Egypt and the U.S., and confirmed his keenness on continuing to further advance relations between the two countries as well as overcoming any hurdles that might affect them,” read a statement from Ittihadiya (pdf). The comments came after the US decided earlier in the week to delay or deny Egypt some USD 290 mm in aid, citing a lack of progress on human rights.

President El Sisi “reiterated the need to continue intensive coordination and consultation between the two countries on all issues of mutual concern.” The move to cut aid broke on Reuters on the eve of the Egyptian leg of White House envoy Jared Kushner’s Middle East peace tour, had caused some drama, with the Foreign Ministry saying the move reflected “poor judgement of the strategic relationship that ties the two countries over long decades.”

So this is really all about North Korea, right? State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert touched on Egypt straight out of the gate at State’s Wednesday, 23 August press briefing (transcript here). Nauert, who said clearly “It’s about human rights” when asked on Wednesday if the aid cut wasn’t really about North Korea, was later pushed by a journo who wasn’t buying that line, noting that “The first ballistic missile [Pyongyang] ever launched came from Egypt.” Her reply: “You know what, I — that predates me here, so I’m not going to comment on that part of it.” By Thursday’s briefing, after stories in the New York Times and Washington Post suggested that yes, it was largely about North Korea, Nauert struck a slightly different tone, saying, “We have conversations with Egypt and many other countries around the world about the need to isolate the DPRK, and we do that because we recognize that countries around the world that do business with North Korea enable money to go into North Korea’s illegal nuclear and ballistic weapons programs. And that is a huge concern of ours and it’s a huge concern to the international community as well.” Egypt is a US ally, she said, “But DPRK overall as a broad matter is a big concern to the United States” (transcript of the Thursday briefing here).

Also in Washington over the weekend: White House advisor fan of Egypt Sebastian Gorka was sacked, according to Reuters. Gorka has previously described President Abdel Fattah El Sisi as “enlightened” and a “reformer” for his part in quelling the Ikhwan, and has been a driving force within the administration to designate the Ikhwan a terrorist organization.

CBE Governor Tarek Amer was named Central Bank Governor of the Year forMiddle East and North Africa by GlobalMarkets, which is running a special issue for the IMF / World Bank fall meetings. Amer was selected for being “the leading architect of Egypt’s IMF program and the driving force behind the exchange rate reform,” GlobalMarkets said in its letter to the governor on the award which ran in Egypt Today. “Amer played a pivotal role in putting the economy on a sustainable path and restoring the confidence of international investors.” The fall IMF and World Bank fall meetings run 9-15 October this year.

Yellen signals to Trump she won’t back down from financial crisis era reforms: Federal Reserve Chairman Janet Yellen defended financial regulations put in place during the global financial crisis in her speech at the annual symposium of central bankers in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Reuters reports. “The balance of research suggests that the core reforms we have put in place have substantially boosted resilience without unduly limiting credit availability or economic growth,” she said. Media outlets are reading into Yellen’s remarks an implicit rebuke of Trump and his desire to scale back regulations of the financial sector; Bloomberg also has the story.

Public service announcement #1 : Cairo traffic will deteriorate markedly on Saturday, 23 September when the new school year starts for the public school system. An Education Ministry committee made the back-to-school announcement yesterday.

Public service announcement #2: We’re heading into a five-day long weekend for Eid Al-Adha. This coming Thursday is the waqfat Arafat, with the first day of the Eid on Friday, 1 September. Expect to be back at your desk / in the warehouse / at the plant / in your shop on the morning of Tuesday, 5 September. Banks and the stock exchange will be off from Thursday through Monday, inclusive, pursuant to an announcement from the central bank, Al Mal reports.

Public service announcement #3: Make sure your TV is working before Thursday, because it’s time to get excited about the Pharaohs’ chances of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The national team’s road to end a 28 year World Cup drought runs through Kampala on this Thursday (31 August) and then Alexandria on Tuesday, 5 September. Check out the Egypt page on the FIFA site, where we’re presently atop Group E. Then head over the Ghana Soccer Net, which has a frank appraisal of our chances against the Black Stars. Then track the Pharaohs’ journey courtesy of our friends over at King Fut.

The hotly anticipated Connor McGregor / Floyd Mayweather boxing match had yet to begin at dispatch time. Two of three undercard bouts had wrapped, but technical problems with the pay-per-view system had reportedly delayed the main event. One piece worth reading, even if you, like some of us, could care less about these two loudmouths whacking at each other: “Crossing Crumlin Road: Long after he escaped Dublin, Conor McGregor still rebels against its psychic barriers. Small wonder he’s crazy enough to box Floyd Mayweather.”

What We’re Tracking This Week

The Ismail cabinet could review the Universal Healthcare Act sometime this week, as it plans to have the legislation presented to the House of Representatives and issued by September.

On The Horizon

Telecom Egypt will launch its mobile network after the Eid break, sources told Al Mal. Numbers will begin with 0155.

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

A number of talk shows aired a little later than usual last night after a power outage at Media Production City. Regrettably, power was restored after a 15-minute gap which was caused by a problem with a transmission line, EMPC boss Osama Heikal told Masaa DMC’s Eman El Hossary (watch, runtime 2:18). Cue navel-gazing on other talkshows, which also dwelt on such groundbreaking topics as (wait for it): subsidized housing and plans to improve the ashwayet.

El Hossary then spoke to MP Magdy Malak about a 1980 law that prohibits the slaughter of livestock in the streets and outside butcheries during Eid. Malak is one of a number of MPs who want the law enforced (watch, runtime 3: 24), but an Agriculture Ministry suggested we not hold our collective breath (watch, runtime 3:35).

Speed Round

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INVESTMENT WATCH- Carbon Holdings expects to break ground by June 2018 on its USD 10.6 bn Tahrir petrochemicals complex at the heart of which is “Egypt’s first naphtha cracker and will produce different types of petrochemicals used to make various consumer and industrial goods, according to Reuters.” Tahrir Petrochemicals will be built in the Suez Canal Economic Zone and is being funded by development finance institutions from the US, Germany and the UK, with talks to be concluded and building started by June. The firm already has projects that have started production: a polypropylene plant and a mining grade ammonium nitrate plant. Expectations are for Tahrir to create 50k jobs once it ramps up operations and will help “double Egypt’s exports within one year of coming online after its five-year construction,” the newswire says. Tahrir CEO Basil El-Baz told Reuters the project will spend at least USD 1.5-2 bn of the project budget on goods sourced in Egypt. El-Baz said the company is also eying a potential stock market listing, but offered no further details.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Saudi Arabia’s Al Hokair Group plans to invest EGP 3 bn in various projects at the Damietta Furniture City, said Damietta Governor Ismail Taha, according to Al Masry Al Youm. The company had signed an MoU on Wednesday which would see it run and operate the commercial hub of the furniture manufacturing complex, the newspaper reports. The hub will include a four-star hotel, a shopping mall, a convention center, and a series of exhibitions and showrooms, said Taha.

SODIC subsidiary extends facility with AAIB to EGP 1.4 bn: SODIC’s fully owned subsidiary SOREAL For Real Estate Development and the Arab African International Bank (AAIB) signed an addendum to a medium term facility which would see the loan increase to EGP 1.4 bn, the company said on Thursday (pdf). The original July 2014 facility was extended by some EGP 450 mn to finance the total development cost of Villette under a developer finance scheme, factoring in the inclusion of the Town Center commercial hub of the project. “We continue to leverage our long term relationship with Egypt’s leading financial institutions and their confidence in SODIC. Our prudent approach to managing our balance sheet cements our ability to raise debt at favorable terms supporting our unwavering commitment to deliver to all our stakeholders,” said SODIC CFO Omar El Hamawy. SODIC launched the first phase of Sky Condos, the first apartment building offering in Villette, earlier this year.

This comes as SODIC plans to complete and deliver on its EGP 900 mn Caesar development in the North Coast by August 2018, said company Managing Director Magued Sherif on Thursday. He told the press during a tour of the project that sales from Caesar are expected to reach EGP 1.6 bn. “We look forward to securing more land in that area as well as on Egypt’s Red Sea coast. We are also open to exploring expansion opportunities beyond Egypt,” Sherif said, according to Daily News Egypt. “We are in a very healthy cash position and are continuously exploring land opportunities. We will continue to secure land in the east and west of Cairo either through the government or the secondary market,” he added. Sherif noted that the property market in Egypt remains strong, stating that people view real estate as a sound investment.

The Oil Ministry signed on Saturday three oil and gas exploration agreements worth USD 79 mn in the Western Desert with Apache and Merlon, according to Al Mal. Separately, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla sat down with Philip Olivier, CEO of Engie Global LNG to discuss both the company’s current operations in importing LNG, and to urge it to expand its investments in Egypt, according to a ministry statement picked up by Al Masry Al Youm.

M&A WATCH- ASCOM sells 64.46% of APM Ethiopia to Allied Gold for USD 14.5 mn: ASCOM Company for Mining divested 64.46% of its shares in Ethiopian subsidiary APM Ethiopia to Allied Gold Corp. for the equivalent of USD 14.5 mn (c. EGP 256 mn), according to an EGX filing. The sale will be completed and disbursed in tranches over the next 18-24 months. APM Ethiopia will spend the transaction’s proceeds on exploration, drilling, and feasibility work at its Western Ethiopia Dish Mountain concession, until Allied is granted full management control of the company.

The Transport Ministry has reportedly finished drafting legislation that would end the state’s monopoly on rail service and allow private sector participation in building, managing, and maintaining infrastructure, Al Ahram reports. The amendments target one clause of the law establishing and regulating the Egyptian National Railways, which enshrines its monopoly over railway services and projects. Minister Hisham Arafat began actively pushing for the bill earlier this month after being in the hot seat over the deadly train crash in Alexandria, saying that the state does not have enough resources to adequately upgrade its rail system. MPs had also announced their intention to introduce a similar bill in their upcoming session.

Manufacturers are looking to press the government once again on repricing natural gas to industry, with the Union of Egyptian Investors Associations planning to meet with Oil Ministry officials sometime in the next few days to push for the issue. An official from EGAS tells Al Mal that it is unlikely that the government will respond to their pleas, saying that it imports gas at a price of USD 7 per mmBTU and buys gas from local producers at a price of USD 6 per mmBTU. The official added that the government currently supplies manufacturers with gas at between USD 3-7 per mmBTU, depending on the industry. The Ismail cabinet had made a concession to steel factories last year, promising to lower the price to USD 4.5 from USD 7. Subsidizing inefficient industrial players at the same time as consumers pay more for energy would be political suicide.

Kabil announces plans to established five new industrial zones, inaugurates new factories during Sadat City media tour: The five new zones will be in Badr City, Upper Egypt, Port Said, and Tenth of Ramadan City, according to Al Mal. Sadat City itself is expected to house some 300 factories before year’s end, all of which are expected to come online within a year. Glass manufacturer Sphinx Glass, whose exports to Europe reel in c. USD 10 mn a year, said it has invested USD 200 mn into its Sadat City operations so far.

During the media event, Kabil inaugurated Uniboard’s new EGP 700 mn cardboard factory, according to Al Borsa. The plant, which is set to produce 130k tonnes a year, will primarily service the local market, but should export around 20% of output. Uniboard also announced its intention to request land to build another paper plant in Minya. The minister also officiated the launch of two new production lines at a medical supplies factory, which will be making scrubs and medical uniforms for the local market at a total investment cost of EGP 11 mn, the newspaper adds.

Upcoming industrial projects: Pak-Tec also announced plans to invest EGP 400 mn in a new packaging plant in the Badr industrial area by year’s end, founder Alaa El Sakte tells Al Masry Al Youm. The 8,000 sqm facility will split its production between the local and international market, with a focus on exporting 50% of the 10,000 tonnes it will produce monthly to Europe. Home appliances-maker Electrostar also announced yesterday it would be spending EGP 200 mn on a new production line of refrigerators and freezers, according to AMAY. The line will allow the company to increase its production capacity to 1,500 units a day from a current 1,000 units.

EARNINGS WATCH– Orascom Construction Limited (OC) reported net income attributable to shareholders in 2Q2017 of USD 23.7 mn, down from USD 26.4 mn in the same period last year. Revenues came in at USD 947.2 mn in 2Q2017 against USD 1.024 bn in the same period last year. Revenue was up slightly YTD at USD 2.0 bn, with attributable net income climbing nearly 5% to USD 51.7 mn. The company’s backlog as of 30 June 2017 was impacted by approximately 20% due to the EGP float. Infrastructure and industrial work continue to account for the majority of the consolidated backlog, representing 86% of total, the company said. OC added a total of USD 500 mn of new awards during 1H2017, including a USD 100 mn contract to build a 650 MW steam turbine power plant in Assiut’s Walidiya in July. “The contract brings total capacity under construction to 11,000 MW and positions the Group for more power opportunities in Egypt and the region,” reads the company’s release.

REGIONAL- Qatar has restored diplomatic ties with Iran “in a move set to further inflame tensions with the four Arab states it has been locked in a regional dispute with since June,” Financial Times reports. Qatar and other GCC countries had recalled their ambassadors from Iran after mobs damaged Saudi diplomatic facilities in the country in early 2016. Mohammed al-Sulami, chairman of the Saudi-based Arabian Gulf Centre for Iranian Studies, said he believes Qatar has “surrender[ed] to Iranian pressure after Iran opened its skies and ports and offered what Doha called economic aid.” Another political analyst told the salmon-colored paper “restoring ties with Iran when they are being told to distance themselves from Iran shows that Qatar is turning its back on the other Gulf states … The rupture seems destined to continue for some time.” The news is getting wide pickup in the international press — see entries from the New York Times, CNN and the Associated Press.

In Qatar-related news, five suspects have been detained in Turkey in connection to Qatar’s claim of a hacking that started the GCC crisis, according to Reuters.


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Image of the Day

Rommel Cave Museum reopens after ten years: For all you Second World War buffs — and those with particular interest in the North African theater — the Antiquities Ministry has reopened the Rommel Cave Museum in Matrouh governorate on Friday after ten years of renovations, Xinhua reports. The cave, which hosts a number of relics and artefacts belonging to the Field Marshal Erwin Rommel “the Desert Fox,” was used by the general as a command post for the German AfrikaKorp (Photo credit: Amgad Ellia).

Egypt in the News

The Trump administration’s decision to cut or withhold some USD 290 mn in aid to Cairo continued to dominate the conversation on Egypt in the international press over the weekend.

Washington Post hails move to cut aid to Egypt: The move to withhold some of the US aid to Egypt has “heartened many critics of Trump’s foreign policy, who cheered the fact that the administration based its decision on Egypt’s poor human rights record,” Adam Taylor writes in the Washington Post. Taylor also brings to the fore the angle that the move could be to pressure Egypt to sever ties with North Korea, noting that “Egypt’s relationship with Pyongyang goes back to the Cold War, when North Korean fighter pilots helped train their Egyptian counterparts ahead of the 1973 war with Israel.” More recently, “it also was accused of illicitly procuring Scud missile parts from Pyongyang.”

The paper’s editorial board takes a harsher line, saying it is “an appropriate response to the most severe repression in the Arab country’s modern history and to the regime’s collaboration with North Korea.” Instead, they suggest the funding cut should be redirected to Tunisia, which the editorial board describes as “a struggling democracy that, unlike its neighbor, is eager to partner with the United States.” In an opinion piece for the paper, Jared Gesner advocates for a more systematic application of the “Leahy provision,” whereby the US can withhold up to 15% of its military aid to Egypt if it fails to take effective steps to advance democracy and human rights. A new set of metrics must be established to monitor Egypt’s human rights to make cutting aid to Egypt, which he calls “historic,” standard policy.

On the flipside, the decision has had a number of detractors in the foreign press, including from the Jewish Policy Center. “Egypt’s President El Sisi is willing to do what President Trump is willing to do – put its military where its strategic interests are. For this, Egypt should be welcomed as an ally and an asset in the defense of the West,” says Shoshana Bryen. She urges the Trump administration to look at Egypt’s role as a bulwark in the region for the biggest threats to US interests there: Daesh and Iran.

“History shows that foreign aid is a poor way to get what we want,” writes Jessica Trisko Darden for the Washington Post. She cites historical examples of how using the threat of cutting US aid has failed to have the desire result in Egypt, Pakistan, El Salvador and Mexico. For one, the US cannot fully back these threats when it comes to important strategic allies, as they might push them further away. Furthermore, the aid is usually small enough that withholding it does not make all that much of a difference, says Darden.

Blanket repression is the wrong way to deal with political Islamists, The Economist writes. “When jihadists kill—as they did again in Spain last week—it is indeed tempting to treat those who seek power in the name of Islam as a menace. Yet the blanket repression of all Islamists is the worst possible response. In the end, it will lead only to more resentment, more turmoil and more terrorism.” The newspaper says: “In Egypt the short-lived Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, seemed to govern for the Brotherhood alone. He installed Brothers throughout the bureaucracy and declared himself to be above the (dubious) judiciary. He alienated other parties, provoking mass protests. Critics assume that Mr Erdogan and Mr Morsi are flawed because they are Islamist. But there is another explanation: that they have mimicked the power-grabbing tactics of Turkish and Egyptian strongmen to pre-empt efforts by the “security state” to seize back power—for Mr Morsi, unsuccessfully.” They suggest that while “political Islamists are hardly the Christian Democrats of the Arab world,” they can be “pragmatic and they cannot be ignored.”

…Separately, the newspaper says it is “strange … that Egypt is now riding to Gaza’s rescue.” The Economist mentions the talks between Hamas representatives, Mohamed Dahlan, Egypt, and the UAE. “The talks, which resumed last week, have been surprisingly fruitful. The UAE has offered Hamas financial inducements worth [USD 15 mn] a month, aid it sorely needs to ease the suffering in Gaza. Hamas, in turn, has said that Mr Dahlan’s men can return … Hamas is also taking on the jihadists in its midst and policing a cordon it created on its side of the border with Egypt.” It believes that “a broader peace is unlikely” and says “Gaza’s siege might ease a bit, but a sweeping rehabilitation will probably have to wait.”

Political campaigns supporting President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in next year’s scheduled presidential elections are “already at work,” Italy’s ANSAmed reports. “The Free Egyptians party and the Nation’s Future party (with 188 MPs, a 20% share) announced that they will hold pro-Sisi rallies in Egyptian governorates in the coming weeks.” This comes despite El Sisi not yet having confirmed plans to run.

Egypt’s KarmSolar is receiving a glowing spotlight on TechCrunch as a leader in solar power and sustainable energy development in the country — going so far as to say it introduced solar energy to Egypt. The site also looks at Karm’s patented technological breakthrough that supports the use of solar energy in pumping water to farmland. Another project getting attention is KarmBuild, an architectural design subsidiary with a focus on energy efficient and environmentally sustainable building designs.

Also worth a skim today:

  • The Jerusalem Post is noting the strategic importance of the Tiran and Sanafir handover agreement, which was published on the Official Gazette a few weeks ago.
  • The Antiquities Ministry is spending EGP 100 mn on renovating the Eliyahu Hanavi Synagogue in Alexandria, despite some claiming a law on the books says Jews should fund the renovation of synagogues, Rami Galal writes for Al-Monitor. Check out the video we had picked up on the synagogue here (runtime 7:32).

On Deadline

Phantom or not, the Dabaa nuclear power plant is probably not our best idea. Taking to the pages of Al Masry Al Youm, Amr El Zant says that the plant will hardly give us bang for our buck, particularly when compared to the cost and output of renewable energy projects. El Zant then proceeds through an odd digression about how, hey, if we’re going to embrace nuclear power, we should produce the reactors locally before concluding that a lackadaisical attitude toward safety and precision could lead us down the road of meltdown.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Shoukry on Russian TV: Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry sat down for an interview with RT’s Oksana Boyko (runtime 30:13) last week to discuss Egyptian diplomacy and his views on US President Donald Trump’s administration’s policies. Shoukry spoke about the importance of resolving the issues between the Israelis and Palestinians, saying the basis on the border issue there are the borders of 4 June 1967, but that there is “flexibility on both sides… It is a matter of political will to move to a final resolution.” On the rift with Qatar, he says “Arab national security … has warranted a more direct and impactful manner. This issue cannot be dissociated for harbouring terrorism.”

Shoukry’s agenda last week also saw him discuss anti-terrorism efforts and improved airport security with the UK’s Minister of State for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. The talks did not break new ground on the issue of the UK’s flight ban to Sharm El Sheikh, but Burt noted that British tourists have been coming to Egypt in greater numbers despite the restrictions. Economic cooperation was also on the table. Burt said the UK’s Trade envoy, Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, will be visiting Egypt “soon.” The two also touched on regional issues, including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and the situation in Libya, Yemen, Syria, and Iraq.

Following up on Burt’s visit, the Chairman of the UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee Charles Farr landed in Cairo yesterday to discuss security and anti-terror cooperation with unnamed Egyptian officials, Youm7 reports.

Separately, Shoukry is heading abroad today on a tour that will take him through Germany, Belarus and Romania, the ministry said in a statement. The minister is scheduled to meet his German and Belarusian counterparts, in addition to the presidents of Belarus and Romania for talks on regional security issues and opportunities for bilateral cooperation. Shoukry is also scheduled to sign three MoUs in Bucharest on tourism cooperation, political consultation, and waiving visa requirements for the two countries’ diplomats.

Israel’s ambassador to Egypt, David Govrin, was reportedly in the country last Wednesday on a one-day trip, Times of Israel reports. The official was accompanied by a delegation of eight embassy employees. While the newspaper does not provide a reason for this short return, which coincided with US Advisor Jared Kushner’s visit to discuss the jumpstarting the Palestinian-Israeli talks. Govrin and other embassy staffers were quietly removed from Egypt in late 2016 “due to security concerns.”

The Trade and Industry Ministry will not impose anti-dumping duties on steel imported from Belgium and China, according to a statement from the ministry. The ministry found that the imports do not impact the local market and that the fee would affect the competitiveness of Egypt’s electrical appliances abroad.

The ministry also extended export tariffs on fresh and frozen fish for one year on Thursday, a decision published in the Official Gazette. The ministry had imposed a EGP 12,000 per tonne duty on fish exports in April after the EGP float caused a spike in fish exports and depleted supplies for domestic consumption. The decision does not apply to processed fish (smoked or canned) or fish exports to the EU, due to binding agreements, Reuters reports.

Egypt has re-opened talks with Singapore’s port operator PSA to manage and operate a container terminal in East Port Said, after negotiations reportedly floundered over the past two years, said Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) Chairman Mohab Mamish. PSA had signed an MoU back in 2015 to manage the terminal. Mamish, who was in Singapore over the weekend with Investment Minister Sahar Nasr as part of a cabinet roadshow to South East Asia, had also met with representatives desalination company Hyflux, where they agreed to continue talks for the company to build a desalination plant in Ain Sokhna port, according to a statement from the Investment Ministry. The meetings followed the Egyptian-Singaporean Business Forum, which took place on Friday to drum up interest in the SCZone, the new capital and New Al Alamein.


Gaza powers up third generator thanks to increased fuel supplies from Egypt

Gaza has brought a third generator at a power plant online after Egypt provided increased fuel supplies, according to Al Mal. Gaza’s electricity crisis has been ongoing as a result of the Israeli government’s restrictions on supplies getting into the area.


Beni Suef governor discusses cooperation on sewage project with Korean company

Beni Suef governor Sherif Habib met with a representative from an unnamed Korean company to discuss potential cooperation on wastewater and sewage projects in the governorate’s villages, Ahram Gate reports.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Egypt purchases 35k tonnes of soybean oil in EGP tender

The General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC) purchased 35k tonnes of soybean oil from Cargill and Alex Seeds at EGP 14,580 a tonne, Reuters’ Arab service reports. GASC had said last month it would begin accepting EGP bids in its soybean oil tenders. The shipments are set to be delivered between 15 and 30 October.


Production resumes at Sidpec after last month’s fire

Production at Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals Company (Sidpec) resumed last week following a fire last month at the company’s ethylene production plant, an Oil Ministry statement said. The ethylene and polyethylene manufacturing plants are now operating at full capacity. Safety systems at the company are now being reviewed.

Health + Education

Supreme Council of Pre-University Education issues 15 decisions to reform public education

The Supreme Council of Pre-University Education issued 15 decisions to reform primary and secondary education, including making non-English foreign languages optional for middle school students and changing computer studies and art education to pass/fail subjects that do not affect students’ GPAs, Ahram Gate reports. The council also ordered the development of technical schools’ curricula to cater to the job market, and agreed to allow high school dropouts and those who have been expelled due to failing to enroll in vocational training schools.

Real Estate + Housing

ECC branching into real estate

The Egyptian Contracting Company (Moukhtar Ibrahim) will begin developing its first project in Obour in October with investments close to EGP 800 mn, reports AMAY. The 55k sqm project is expected to be complete in three years’ time and comes as part of the firm’s strategy to exploit its existing land bank and diversify its revenue streams. The project is expected to draw in c. EGP 300 mn.

Abraj Misr signs EGP 600 mn funding agreement with Gulf investor

Abraj Misr recently signed a EGP 600 mn funding agreement with an unnamed Gulf investor for its The Gate residential compound project in Heliopolis, Chairman Ali Rabie tells Al Masry Al Youm. The funding agreement allowed the company to halt loan negotiations with banks, whose interest rates Rabie said would be too high in light of the CBE’s rate hikes. Abraj had previously agreed to mortgage the land for The Gate to secure a loan from the Arab African International Bank.


TPA delegation to promote Egypt tourism in Germany next month

A Tourism Promotion Authority (TPA) delegation will be heading to Germany between 12-15 September to market the ‘Egypt: Summer All Year Round’ campaign, Al Shorouk reports. The delegation will visit Berlin, Frankfurt, Leipzig, and Nuremberg in the hopes of boosting winter time travel to Egypt.

Telecoms + ICT

ITWorx, Huawei team up to provide MNOs with software solutions for North African market

Egyptian software company ITWorx signed an agreement with Huawei that will see them cooperate on providing software solutions to mobile network operators. The solutions will extend to customer service, network data analytics, prepaid services, and after-sales services, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The first phase of the two companies’ cooperation will target North African markets, specifically Egypt, Algeria, Ghana, Nigeria, Mali, and Uganda, according to ITWorx CEO Hafez Hamdy.

Banking + Finance

Titan and Audi ink loan agreement

Titan Group will inked a loan agreement with Bank Audi that will see it receiving between EGP 300-500 mn in financing by the end of 2017, sources tell AMAY. The medium-term loan agreement extends over a period of five years. The funds will be used to boost Titan Group subsidiaries’ capital base, including Alexandria Portland Cement, Misr Beni Suef Cement, and Titan Cement Egypt.

Acumen-BPE to begin marketing new EGP 1 bn real estate fund in September

Acumen-BPE will begin marketing the Housing and Development Bank’s EGP 1 bn real estate fund in September once it receives the green light from the Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority, Chairman Hany Tawfik said, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The first EGP 500 mn phase of the fund is set to launch in 4Q2017, according to Tawfik.

NBE and Banque du Caire provide loan for railway system

National Bank of Egypt and Banque du Caire have agreed to co-arrange a USD 95 mn syndicated loan for the Egyptian National Railway. Negotiations are ongoing to determine how the two banks will split the amount, which will be used to finance much-needed railway upgrades, according to AMAY

Other Business News of Note

Trade Ministry extends grace period to comply with Importers Registry Act

The Trade and Industry Ministry plans to extend the grace period to comply with amendments to the Importers Registry Act to December from September, minister Tarek Kabil announced on Thursday, according to Al Borsa. The move follows requests by importers that the September deadline was too short notice to comply with the law, which increases the minimum capital for importers and imposes stricter penalties for violation of import regulations in a bid tighten import controls.

McDonald’s Egypt to invest EGP 300 mn by 2020

McDonald’s Egypt is looking to invest EGP 300 mn by 2020 under its national expansion plan, Al Masry Al Youm reports. The fast food chain is planning to open three new branches in Egypt this year, according to General Manager Alaa Fathy.

Fawry and Jumia join forces

Online retailer Jumia has signed an agreement with payment processor Fawry to allow shoppers to use the money transfer service for payment, AMAL reports.

Egypt Politics + Economics

Yields on six-month, one-year T-bills fall

Average yields on six-month and one-year treasury bills fell at Thursday’s auction, Reuters reports. Average yields on the 182-day bill fell to 19.345% from 19.368% on 17 August, and yields on the 357-day bill fell to 19.015% from 19.308%.

Leaving interest rates high will curb GDP growth -FEI Food Industries Division

Leaving interest rates high will curb GDP growth as high borrowing costs force companies to cut outlays on CAPEX, Federation of Egyptian Industries’ Food Industries Division member and Spinneys CEO Mohanad Adly tells Ahram Gate. Adly adds that current interest rate levels also put pressure on the state budget.

El Sisi orders comprehensive anti-terrorism strategy

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi ordered the Supreme Anti-terrorism Council to develop a strategy to combat extremist ideology in Egypt during the first meeting of the council on Thursday, Youm7 reports. El Sisi expects the strategy to encompass economic, cultural, and media components in addition to the political and security.

National Security

Police plans to buy 50 Tigr armored vehicles from Russia -TASS

Egypt has plans to buy 50 GAZ Tigr armored vehicles for the Interior Ministry, according to Russian Military Industrial Company CEO Alexander Krasovitsky, state-owned TASS reports. “The issue concerns 50 vehicles and we will probably sign a contract in the near future,” he says.

On Your Way Out

A group of 12 Egyptian engineering students have found a way to recycle used tires and turn them into fuel, Reuters reports. Using a machine, the tires are heated up and the vapor emitted enters a condenser, yielding fuel that is “very similar in properties to pure diesel,” according to one of the students. The students are looking to attract investors to develop the machine, which they designed as a graduation project in light of rising fuel prices.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 17.68 | Sell 17.78
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 17.69 | Sell 17.79

EGX30 (Thursday): 12,926 (-0.5%)
Turnover: EGP 478 mn (46% below the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +4.7%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session down 0.5%. CIB, the index heaviest constituent ended almost flat. EGX30’s top performing constituents were: Emaar Misr up 1.2%, Egyptian Financial and Industrial up 0.4%, and Telecom Egypt up 0.1%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were: ACC down 4.1%, Heliopolis Housing down 3.7%, and Kima down 3.3%. The market turnover was EGP 478 mn, and local investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Long| EGP +113.0 mn
Regional: Net Long | EGP +17.4 mn
Domestic: Net Short | EGP -130.4 mn

Retail: 57.0% of total trades | 53.9% of buyers | 60.0% of sellers
Institutions: 43.0% of total trades | 46.1% of buyers | 40.0% of sellers

Foreign: 23.0% of total | 34.8% of buyers | 11.2% of sellers
Regional: 5.0% of total | 6.8% of buyers | 3.2% of sellers
Domestic: 72.0% of total | 58.4% of buyers | 85.6% of sellers

WTI: USD 47.87 (+0.93%)
Brent: USD 52.41 (+0.71%)
Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 2.89 MMBtu, (-1.93%, September 2017 contract)
Gold: USD 1,297.90 / troy ounce (+0.46%)TASI: 7,245.66 (-0.25%) (YTD: +0.49%)
ADX: 4,493.81 (+0.14%) (YTD: -1.16%)
DFM: 3,624.49 (-0.01%) (YTD: +2.65%)
KSE Weighted Index: 429.54 (+0.13%) (YTD: +13.01%)
QE: 8,951.82 (-1.12%) (YTD: -14.23%)
MSM: 4,946.89 (-0.17%) (YTD: -14.45%)
BB: 1,302.13 (-0.24%) (YTD: +6.69%)

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31 August-04 September (Thursday-Monday): Eid Al-Adha, national holiday as specified by the Astronomical and Geophysics Institute. The Thursday is the waqfat Arafat, with the first day of the Eid on Friday, 1 September.

September — The House of Representatives is due to begin discussion of the proposed bankruptcy bill.

06 September (Wednesday): The Emirates NBD Egypt PMI report for August released.

06-09 September (Wednesday-Saturday): 2017 China-Arab States Expo (Egypt is the Guest of Honor), Ningxia, China.

08-09 September (Friday-Saturday): Educate Me’s Conference for Egyptian Education (Mo’allem), AUC, Cairo

13 September (Wednesday): EIB MED Conference: Boosting investments in the Mediterranean Region, Cairo.

13-15 September (Wednesday-Friday) Financial Inclusion Conference in Sharm El Sheikh.

15-18 September (Friday-Monday): Sharm Travel Market, venue TBD, Sharm El Sheikh.

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

19 September (Tuesday): Deadline for applications for funding under the Newton Institutional Links programme.

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).

22-24 September (Friday-Sunday): CairoComix Festival, AUC Tahrir Campus, Cairo.

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

23-25 September (Saturday-Monday): Invest In Africa Conference and Exhibitors Summit, Gala Theater Complex, 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.

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.

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

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

23-27 October (Monday-Friday): 29th Business and Professional Women International Congress themed “Making a Difference through Leadership and Action,” Mena House Hotel, Cairo. Register here.

06-07 November (Monday-Tuesday): Crisis Communications Conference, Four Seasons Nile Plaza Hotel, Cairo.

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

26-29 November (Sunday-Wednesday): 21st Cairo ICT, Cairo International Convention Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

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.

07-09 December (Thursday-Saturday): The Africa 2017 forum: “Business for Africa, Egypt and the World” Conference, Sharm El Sheikh.

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

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

17-21 February 2018 (Wednesday-Saturday): Women For Success – Women SME’s "World of Possibilities" Conference, Cairo/Luxor.

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