Thursday, 26 March 2020

‘Twas the first night of 7azr, and all through the house…


What We’re Tracking Today

We are in the final minutes of the country’s first nighttime curfew in some seven years, and the streets were eerily empty past dusk. Al Shorouk and Ahram Online carried pictures of the ghost town that was Cairo.

Who’s still working? For those still unclear on whose doors are still open during the curfew, the cabinet has posted a handy infographic illustrating the sectors and services still operating and their working hours.

Markets seem to be taking a breather this morning: In trading yesterday, US stocks had their first back-to-back gains since February and the EGX30 closed again in the green. Asian markets were largely trading sideways this morning, and US futures were marginally in the red at the time of dispatch. Look for them to surge today if we get word from Washington on a stimulus agreement.


The Health Ministry yesterday reported 54 new cases of covid-19, all Egyptian citizens, bringing the overall total to 456. The virus claimed another victim, a 63-year-old Monufia resident, bringing the death toll to 21. Ninety-five people have now made full recoveries after 11 Egyptians and four foreigners were discharged from hospital yesterday. There are now 113 people who have tested negative after treatment, suggesting they may have recovered.

Outpatient clinics are now closed and there will be 19 state labs testing for the virus that causes covid-19 when two more labs start operation later today, Health Minister Hala Zayed said yesterday. Zayed also said that the ministry will allow pharmacies to dispense three-month supplies of meds for beneficiaries of the public healthcare insurance program those with chronic illnesses. Mothers benefitting from programs to expand access to baby formula will also be allowed to stock up. Both measures are designed to encourage social distancing by reducing footfalls at pharmacies.

The government is requiring construction companies to monitor their workers’ temperatures and provide them with masks and disinfectants as precautions against covid-19, according to the local press. Ambulances will also be required to remain on sites with more than 100 workers.

The Financial Regulatory Authority has granted MSMEs a six-month grace period to pay insurance premiums, according to an official statement. It also formed an emergency committee to follow up on the impact of the outbreak and take the necessary actions to protect microfinance in particular.

The Finance Ministry has issued a decree obliging VAT registrants to file their taxes despite the partial economic shutdown, the local press reports.

Some food and pharma producers want exemptions from curfew for their staff, saying the measure will make it difficult for them to keep shelves stocked, the local press reported. Manufacturers will likely place their workforce on a rotation schedule, which head of the Sixth of October Investors Association Mohamed Khamis Shaaban claims would cause productivity to fall by 75%. The curfew-driven productivity loss could drive up prices, warns the Beni Suef association head Mohsen El Gebaly. Neither Shaaban nor El Gebaly explain the math here, particularly since the Federation of Investor Associations’ food industries division said the curfew would not reduce food manufacturers’ productivity.

Egyptian cotton exports have ground to a halt amid cratering global demand, Masrawy reports, citing sources at the Cotton Exporters Association. Countries across the world — including India, the biggest importer of Egyptian cotton, — have shuttered factories, effectively ending Egypt’s exports. Times were already tough for the industry, having seen exports fall almost 40% during the first three months of the export season, which started in September.

Nissan is halting operations at its Giza assembly plant for two weeks, according to AP. Factory work will also be suspended at the company’s facilities in South Africa and India while office-based employees will continue working from home.

Egypt’s four mobile operators are reducing their store opening hours to 8:30am – 4:30pm in light of the curfew, the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said yesterday, according to Ahram Online.

EFG Hermes’ installment payment app valU is giving Uber drivers a three-month grace period to pay their premiums. The decision comes a day after the government banned ride-share services as a precautionary measure, according to the local press.

Speaking of Uber: The company has suspended its personal vehicle services from 6pm until 6am and its Uber Bus service between 5pm and 7am as of yesterday, according to an emailed statement.

Swvl, meanwhile, is cutting back on its trips and is making them all available without charge to provide transport for individuals who are still going to work, according to the local press. The ride-hailing app is halving the number of passengers allowed in each vehicle.

The Cairo metro is running on an amended schedule, which you can find here in this cabinet statement.

Saudi Arabia will extend the visas of Egyptians still stuck in the country and give pilgrims struggling to depart until 28 March to request an exemption to avoid paying fees associated with an extended stay, according to the local press. Oman is working on arranging an exceptional flight to Egypt to repatriate citizens.

On a lighter note, Red Sea governor Gen. Amr Hanafi quipped that the mayor of El Qusayr was detained for breaking curfew yesterday, in a chat with talk show host Ahmed Musa on Sada El Balad, to illustrate how serious authorities are about enforcing it. He was released shortly after.



Countries have “squandered” the first chance to contain the pandemic, the head of the World Health Organization said yesterday in a statement that criticized the slow roll out of measures to stem crisis. “The time to act was actually more than a month ago or two months ago,” Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a rare public criticism of the world’s response to the pandemic.

The situation in Spain is continuing to deteriorate: Spain’s death toll has surpassed that of China after 738 new deaths were reported yesterday, Reuters reports. Spain now has the second-highest number of deaths (more than 3.4k) after Italy, which has seen over 7.5k people die.

Debt relief needed for poorest countries, say World Bank, IMF: The World Bank and the IMF have called on creditors of vulnerable countries to suspend debt payments to help them cope with the economic fallout of the pandemic. International Development Association (IDA) countries are home to a quarter of the world’s population and two-thirds of the world’s population living in extreme poverty. Debt relief “will help with IDA countries’ immediate liquidity needs to tackle challenges posed by the coronavirus outbreak and allow time for an assessment of the crisis impact and financing needs for each country,” they said in a joint statement.

The growing case for FX controls in emerging markets: Accelerating capital flight from emerging markets is calling into question the long-held wisdom of maintaining floating exchange rates, Reuters reports. EM stocks and bonds have seen almost USD 80 bn in outflows since the beginning of February, according to Societe Generale data, making a return to currency controls more attractive to developing countries hard hit by the pandemic and the oil price collapse. “There is some early evidence of an unprecedented collapse in global capital mobility which, if sustained, will make it tempting for countries to conserve their FX resources by imposing restrictions on capital outflows,” said David Lubin, head of EM economics at Citi.

Focus on balance sheets not dividends, investors tell businesses: Companies should postpone dividend payouts and focus on supporting their balance sheets to survive the crisis, some of the world’s largest investors told the Financial Times. BNP Paribas, Legal & General and Fidelity International all said that companies need to rethink their dividend strategies as revenues plunge following widespread lockdowns.

Is anticipated economic stimulus a chance to build a greener, more sustainable, more equitable economy? Yes, say environmentalists, but not necessarily right away. While some want to put clean energy at the front and center of any economic bailout — by requiring that airlines facing bankruptcy promise to lower emissions as a condition of financial support, for instance — others say the priority right now has to be mitigating economic pain that lies ahead, Bloomberg reports.

Other global covid-19 news:

  • New York has seen a slowdown in the spread of covid-19 after applying “density control” measures, like turning some streets pedestrian and banning close-contact sports in parks. (Reuters)
  • Saudi Arabia has tightened its 21-day curfew, banning travel between cities and starting the curfew in some places at 3pm, after reporting its second covid-19 death on Wednesday. In the UAE, 64 people are facing legal action for breaching instructions of the 14-day lockdown. (Reuters)
  • Prince Charles, aged 71, has tested positive for covid-19 after showing symptoms of the virus over the weekend. (BBC)
  • Canada is now requiring a mandatory 14-day self-isolation for anyone returning to the country. (Associated Press)


The Finance Minister is shipping the draft FY2020-2021 budget to the House of Representatives within days, Al Mal reports. The House is constitutionally required to receive the draft budget at least 90 days before the start of the fiscal year on 1 July, which puts the deadline at the end of this month. The Planning and Budget Committee plans to begin reviewing the budget on 12 April, when parliament returns from its recess.

The Finance Ministry has paid out EGP 95 mn in compensation to those affected by the “dragon storm” that hit Egypt two weeks ago, . The storm left 21 dead and caused infrastructural damage. We looked at Egypt’s rainwater infrastructure and whether it can be better prepared for future extreme weather events in last week’s edition of Hardhat.

Covid-19 putting diplomacy on the backburner? Egypt’s talks on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), and the situations in Libya and Syria have become less of a priority as countries turn their attention to covid-19, according to Ahram Online. Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry, who was on an African tour to secure diplomatic backing on the GERD dispute, is “unlikely” to visit Washington as scheduled to resume talks over the dam, diplomats say.

Don’t gorge while you’re on 7azr / lockdown / quarantine, say nutritionists speaking to the Wall Street Journal. Their top tips? Try to structure your meal and snack times rather than constantly grazing. Eat for good health, with a focus on immune system-boosting protein and veggies. Enjoy some comfort food, but try to include some more nutritious options than just pasta: Beans, whole grains and spices are great additions to any meal. And get creative — you’re less likely to fall prey to panic buying, and it’s more fun.

Now, would someone please pass me both the chocolate-covered caramels and Cheetos? And some of those chocolate-covered hazelnuts from Gourmet. And that focaccia from Ratios. And…

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

The curfew occupied the attention of the nation’s talking heads last night: Cabinet spokesman Nader Saad appeared on El Taseaa masa’n and confirmed that those commuting from distant governorates to work in Cairo would be given priority for exemptions so they can get to and from work during curfew, but that the decision remained with their employer (watch, runtime: 18:59). Min Masr’s Amr Khalil spoke with a correspondent who stood at the usually packed area in front of Al Hosary Mosque to show the empty streets during curfew hours (watch, runtime: 1:21).

Covid-19 update: Al Hayah Al Youm’s Hossam Hadad covered Health Minister Hala Zayed and Information Minister Osama Heikal’s joint press conference, during which they confirmed 40 new cases of covid-19 bringing the total number of infections to 442 (watch, runtime: 4:36). A Health Ministry statement later reported an additional 14 cases, raising the total to 456, which was picked up by Min Masr’s Amr Khalil (watch, runtime: 0:49) and Yahduth Fi Misr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 0:54).

The Masaa DMC host criticised Zayed and Heikal for standing too close together, opining that they should have set an example and stood two metres apart (watch, runtime: 3:06).

Health Ministry’s call for volunteers: Hadad also spoke by phone with Health Ministry spokesman Khaled Megahed who covered the large number who had applied to volunteer with the ministry’s anti-covid efforts (watch, runtime: 5:06).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

The legal implications of covid-19: What does force majeure mean for business? The covid-19 crisis has evolved rapidly over the past few weeks, forcing the government to take increasingly disruptive measures to mitigate its impact on public health and the economy — and businesses to take their own precautions to look after staff and customers. The closure of businesses and the introduction of a nationwide 7pm-6am curfew only ramps up the likelihood that businesses could find it challenging to meet contractual obligations in the weeks and months to come.

Enter force majeure clauses, a common contract feature: Contracts often contain clauses that enable parties to suspend contractual agreements in the event of “force majeure” (or a so-called “act of God”). For this to happen, the event must of a magnitude that makes delivery of an agreement, or parts of it, impossible. So long as such an event persists, obligations can effectively be paused without incurring penalties. If a contract doesn’t include a force majeure clause, you may have the option of going to court to prove that force majeure is preventing the fulfillment of a contractual obligation.

So covid-19 is force majeure, right? Not necessarily. The suspension of a contract under force majeure is really a case-by-case thing, lawyers with whom we spoke tell us.Some force majeure clauses directly reference pandemics or epidemics, while others refer broadly to events with impact, or even to “plagues” and “natural disasters.” There’s also the question of regulatory decisions. Businesses relying on materials from high-risk areas, including much of Europe where factories have shut down, can more easily claim force majeure and renegotiate contracts or suspend parts of their agreements.

Have a look here at examples of how force majeure clauses are typically phrased.

These clauses, sometimes referred to as “press-pause” provisions in simple legalese, are stated in most high-value contracts in Egypt as a contingency measure, Karim Youssef, managing partner at Cairo-based firm Youssef & Partners, tells us. That said, it’s entirely up to the contracting parties to decide what constitutes force majeure. The parties can choose to agree that anything counts, from a minor disturbance to a major economic shock.

Businesses among those likely to resort to force majeure are those in heavy manufacturing, construction (due to site closures), hospitality, transport, satellite services for airports and seaports, sports, importer-exporters and others in supply-chain intensive industries, Youssef says.

Implications of the 6am-7pm curfew: Egypt’s evening curfew, which was declared earlier this week, potentially triggers a hardship situation born out of, but not directly due to, the outbreak, Mohamed Salah Abdel Wahab, founding partner at law firm Zulficar & Partners, told Enterprise. The curfew was due to a rare, universal, and unforeseen event and falls under the doctrine of “exceptional public circumstances,” law firm Al Tamimi & Co said in a note yesterday. This doctrine is based on the theory of ‘imprévision’ in French law, and roughly coincides with the hardship clause in common law. A hardship situation doesn’t rule out the possibility of invoking force majeure if it can be proven that performance was impossible, Abdel Wahab says.

“Impossibility” is the key difference between hardship and force majeure: Imagine a manufacturer that was able to operate a plant for three shifts a day can now only run a single shift, says Shalakany Law Office senior partner Aly El Shalakany. The company is in a tough spot, but it still may not mean it’s impossible to make deliveries to customers. In a case like this, and in many others where force majeure isn’t enforceable in court or explicitly stated in the contract, courts can reasonably reduce a party’s contractual obligations if it was established that contract was affected by hardship.

Having problems? The last thing you want to do as a business leader is call your lawyer. Get in touch with the person on the other side of the contract — they’re probably feeling the squeeze, too, and you may be able to work something out. “Contracting parties should keep their channels of communication open as the last thing they should consider is to take the issue up for dispute resolution,” Shalakany says. Everyone would do well to be reasonable under the current circumstances, he said, particularly if there’s a long-term partnership or repeat business involved.

Communication is key in the times we’re in today. In our conversation with Orascom Construction CEO Osama Bishai for this week’s edition of Hardhat, Bishai told us that OC has made it a priority to communicate constantly with clients and stakeholders both to keep them informed and to reach out to them in the event they are hit by the covid-19 crisis.

Still, it would be a good idea to pull out that contract and see where you stand: Good practice means a contractual “reality check,” or review of key clauses in outstanding agreements — including termination, force majeure, hardship, stabilization, delays and dispute resolution. Have a lawyer walk you through them, Youssef suggests.

Force majeure isn’t limited to B2B — it can have implications for employment too: “Companies have been coming our way with questions on employment contracts,” says Ghada El Ehwany, partner at Baker McKenzie’s Cairo office Helmy, Hamza & Partners. Force majeure and hardship are relevant in this case for several reasons. If the situation deteriorates more than it has already, employers may be forced to terminate contracts, opening up avenues for severance pay. Under force majeure, they might be able to minimize their exposure.

There’s a high level of uncertainty, and employers want to know whether there’s a way out of labor law provisions that could hurt when cashflows are already being squeezed, including stipulations requiring them to pay 50% of an employee’s wage even if the business is temporarily suspended. “No one is taking action, but they’re anticipating that their business will be impacted, and that might ultimately lead to the need for some measures to cut costs,” Ehwany said.

And not just limited to Egypt: In China, where the covid-19 originated, the government directly issued force majeure certificates, exempting them from liability if they breach contracts. As of the beginning of this month, China had handed out 4.8k certificates to companies, covering nearly USD 53 bn of contracts. The Financial Times says this was an attempt to absolve local exporters of their obligations. Elsewhere, the European Construction Industry Federation is calling on the bloc’s executive branch to publicly announce the covid-19 pandemic as a case of force majeure.


Covid-19 could cause Egypt’s GDP to shrink 1.3% this year, before bouncing back in 2021, says Capital Economics: Egypt could see its economy contract 1.3% in 2020 on the back of the covid-19 outbreak, said Jason Tuvey, senior EM economist at Capital Economics. The London-based research consultancy firm initially expected Egypt’s GDP to grow at a 6% clip this year. Egypt’s external position looks better than most of its regional peers, “but poor public finances limit the scope for financial stimulus,” Tuvey says.

Regionally, the picture isn’t much prettier: Saudi Arabia is the onlyMENA economy that Capital Economics doesn’t expect to shrink this year, and has actually revised its GDP growth forecast upwards to 2.0% from 1.3%. This forecast is driven entirely by an anticipated rise in oil output, Tuvey says, despite a collapse in oil prices. Lebanon is expected to be the worst-performing MENA economy this year, which could see its GDP shrink by a painful 12%, followed by Tunisia (-8.5%) and Jordan (-6.5%). As a whole, the MENA region is expected to see an average 1.3% decline in GDP in 2020. Capital Economics had initially forecasted average MENA GDP growth to come in at 2.2% this year.

On the bright side, the region could see a significant rebound in 2021. Capital Economics has revised its forecasts for 2021 GDP growth in Egypt to 7.8%, from an initial forecast of 5%. This would place Egypt as the region’s fastest-growing economy next year. The average GDP growth for the MENA region next year is now forecast at 4.9%, up from initial expectations of 2.2% growth.

EGX holds steady after days of volatility: The EGX30 crept up yesterday to close 0.97% in the green. The index dipped during morning trading after an early surge before local and regional investors helped drive a mid-afternoon rally. The EGX30 heavyweight CIB slid 0.9%, while Egyptian Resorts soared 9.4% and Kima ended the trading day up 6.5%.

Is the economic stimulus beginning to impact investor sentiment? The rebound (however small) is a reflection of optimism on the government's economic plan to help businesses against covid-19, including tax breaks for EGX investors and energy price cuts, Faisal Brokerage's Mohamed Abdel Hakim told Hapi Journal. Investor sentiment appears to have improved although the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has yet to announce how it will deploy the EGP 20 bn it has pledged.

Stock buybacks are still going strong: Sharkia National Food, El Wadi for Touristic Investment, and Golden Coast El Sokhna for Touristic Investment have all tapped the relaxed rules to buy treasury stocks (here, here, and here — pdfs).

Global stocks see second-consecutive day of gains on bailout hopes: Global equity markets continued Tuesday’s rally yesterday on hopes that US lawmakers would soon pass a record-breaking USD 2 tn bailout and news that EU leaders would open discussions on a “Marshall Plan-like” economic rescue package.

US equities saw their first two-day rally since February as investors gained confidence that senators were closed to an agreement over the largest bailout in US history. The Dow Jones has had its best two-day run since 1987, rising 2.4% during trading yesterday after a Tuesday blitz that saw it climb 11.37% — its best day since 1933. The S&P 500, meanwhile, finished 1.15% in the green after climbing 9.38% on Tuesday, its best two-day rally since November 2008. “The agreement of a USD 2 tn stimulus can help cushion the blow to the economy, but we don’t think that it’s all systems go for risk assets,” said Mark McCormick, global head of FX strategy at TD Securities. “At least the path ahead will be choppy.”

Last minute hurdles delay stimulus measures: Stocks gave up some of the gains late in the session after several GOP lawmakers raised a last minute objection to a provision of the bill that would increase unemployment benefits, claiming that it would encourage businesses to fire workers and employees to seek redundancies. In response, progressive senator Bernie Sanders threatened to block the legislation to push for more restrictions on the USD 500 bn fund allocated to bailout corporate America.

A sea of green on European indices as stimulus momentum grows: European stocks also extended their gains yesterday as EU leaders said that talks would begin today over a Marshall Plan-esque package that would provide an “exit strategy, a comprehensive recovery plan and unprecedented investment” to drag the continent out of the crisis. Nine eurozone countries are also calling for the EU to issue joint European ‘coronabonds’ to provide “stable long-term financing for the policies required to counter the damages caused by this pandemic.”

With cases and lockdowns multiplying by the day, let’s not call the bottom just yet: “I just think these markets got a bit overexcited [on Tuesday],” Craig Erlam, senior market analyst at OANDA told MarketWatch. “Obviously, a USD 2 tn stimulus plan is huge. I feel like all of these stimulus measures, monetary and fiscal could turbo-charge a recovery when it happens, but I think any sustainable recovery in markets will be hard pushed when we’re still seeing increasing lockdowns, increasing numbers of cases and deaths at a faster rate,” he said.


Oil prices posted slight gains despite US data showing the pandemic weighing on demand. US crude rose 2.3% to USD 24.56/bbl and Brent gained 1.5% to close at USD 27.55/bbl as data from the US Energy Information Administration showed that demand for fuel fell by 1.2 mn b/d over the past week.

US intervenes in Saudi-Russia oil price war to halt market slide: Washington is pressuring Saudi Arabia to scale back its plans to dump record amounts of oil on the record after its price war with Russia sent crude prices plunging to multi-decade lows, Bloomberg reports. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo urged Saudi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman to “rise to the occasion and reassure global energy and financial markets” at a time when the covid-19 pandemic is threatening much of the world with deep recession.

IPO WATCH- Market regulator grants nine-month extension for companies planning IPOs: The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) has extended by nine months the deadline for companies that have listed their shares on the EGX but have yet to begin trading due to market conditions, according to a statement. The extension pushes the deadline from 31 March to December 2020, but requires these companies to provide the FRA with a planned timeline for their IPOs by the end of May.

Who does this extension apply to? The statement doesn’t clarify how many companies the extension applies to, but the most obvious example we know is state-owned Banque du Caire (BdC), which has been listed on the EGX since 2017, but has yet to IPO since then. BdC’s IPO was expected to go to market in April but was shelved along with the rest of the state privatization program as the covid-19 outbreak wreaked havoc on global equity markets. The state-owned lender is expected to debut 20-30% of its shares, and could go ahead during the second half of the year if calm returns to the markets, sources involved with the program said last week.

New bank certificates prove popular: The National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr have sold EGP 20.9 bn of their new 15% fixed-rate certificates in the first three days, Hapi Journal reports. The banking sector has acted in concert with the Central Bank of Egypt to deter savers from piling into the USD. In addition to launching the new high-interest savings bonds, the National Bank of Egypt has cut interest on its USD certificates by 1.75-2.25% to try and steer people into holding the EGP. CIB also joined the effort yesterday by bumping up the rate on its three-year EGP certificates by 1.75-2.5 percentage points, Hapi Journal said.


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The Macro Picture

Business activity in US, Europe sucker punched as manufacturing and services suffer record blow: Business activity has hit record lows in the US and Europe, according to preliminary IHS Markit composite PMIs, an early indicator of the damage wrought by the covid-19 pandemic on developed economies. Readings for the US, Europe and the UK all plunged to the lowest levels since records began in the 1990s: the US fell from 49.6 in February to 40.5 in March, the eurozone plummeted from 51.6 to 31.4 and the UK saw a stunning 16-point drop to 37.1. A reading below 50 indicates that business activity is contracting, with a majority of surveyed businesses reporting a decline in economic conditions. “We already had a nightmare fear and we wake up and the nightmare is unfortunately real,” said Torsten Slok, chief economist at Deutsche Bank Securities. “These numbers are just telling you how incredibly severe and serious this is, for the US and for Europe.”

The services sector in the eurozone is collapsing, falling to just 24 points from 52.6 in February, far surpassing the previous record low of 39.2 set in February 2009. New business fell at the sharpest rate ever while demand for goods sunk to the lowest level since April 2009. Read the full PMI release here (pdf).

US output is falling at the fastest rate in more than a decade, driven by a collapse in new business. Respondents said they expected this level of output to continue for the next 12 months, indicating that hopes for a V-shaped recovery could prove unrealistic. All of this suggests that the US could see GDP fall by around 5% at an annualized rate, said Chris Williamson, chief business economist at IHS Markit. Read the full PMI release here (pdf).

And this isn’t the worst of it: Responses for the flash PMIs were collected during the middle of this month before many of the most stringent measures to contain the virus were taken. This means that March’s final PMI data is likely to be even worse than the preliminary results released yesterday.

Image of the Day

It isn’t just countries — emissions are going into lockdown too: As countries impose extreme social distancing measures and shut down industry to slow the spread of covid-19, compelling evidence shows a considerable decline in nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) emissions. This infographic demonstrating the plummeting NO₂ levels in China between early January and mid-February is among several circulating, courtesy of the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), and satellite footage from NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA).

Egypt in the News

All is quiet this morning for Egypt the pages of the international press.

Worth Listening

A pandemic like covid-19 wasn’t just anticipated — it is an inherent risk of globalization, and we need to determine how to mitigate the fallout and be better prepared in the future, argues economist Ian Goldin in this Financial Times podcast (listen, runtime: 18:30). As our global system becomes richer and more connected in different domains — trade, finance, the internet, human movement — more vectors for transmission are invariably created, meaning that threats of any kind can more easily flow across boundaries.

Does this mean globalization should be abandoned? Not at all, says Goldin. If countries become more insular and isolationist, it exacerbates a vicious cycle of decreasing growth, increasing inequality, widespread anger and more populism. What is needed instead is a truly global effort, where bodies like the WHO and governments work together to better prepare for future crises, like economic downturns, pandemics and climate change. The negatives of globalization, from illegal trade to election meddling to the anti-vax movement, need better management, he says.


Elsewedy Electric signs agreement with ABB to power the Toshka II substation

Elsewedy Electric has signed an agreement with Swiss-Swedish power company ABB Group to help it expand the Toshka 2 substation, the local press reports. Elsewedy signed two contracts worth EGP 1.1 bn and EGP 687 mn with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company in November to expand the station ahead of installing a 500 kV transmission line linking it to the Benban solar park in Aswan.


Travco halts construction on 4 hotels until flights resume

Travco has suspended construction on four hotels until the government allows flights to resume, the local press reports citing unnamed company sources who did not provide details on their locations. The company has invested EGP 2.5 bn into the hotels, 40% of which was financed by the company’s capital and the rest via loans, the sources said, adding that 85% of the construction has been completed.

Banking + Finance

EGP to be included on Beni clearing platform

Arab payment platform Beni will include the EGP as a settlement currency following a decision by its proprietor, the Arab Monetary Fund, and the Central Bank of Egypt, the local press reports. The multi-currency platform which is soon to launch will also provide clearing and settlement services in Arab and other international currencies. The fund recently announced the inclusion of the USD and EUR, as well as the Bahraini and Jordanian dinars and the Emirati dirham, as settlement currencies.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.69 | Sell 15.79
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.70 | Sell 15.80
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.68 | Sell 15.78

EGX30 (Wednesday): 9,866 (+1.0%)
Turnover: EGP 614 mn (2% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: +29.3%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session up 1%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended down 0.3%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Egyptian Resorts up 9.4%, Kima up 6.5%, and AMOC up 6.4%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Credit Agricole down 2.9%, GB Auto down 2.8% and TMG Holding down 0.9%. The market turnover was EGP 614 mn, and foreign investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net short | EGP -153.2 mn
Regional: Net long | EGP +2.3 mn
Domestic: Net long | EGP +150.8 mn

Retail: 43.7% of total trades | 49.7% of buyers | 37.7% of sellers
Institutions: 56.3% of total trades | 50.3% of buyers | 62.3% of sellers

WTI: USD 24.56 (+2.3%)
Brent: USD 27.55 (+1.5%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 1.66 MMBtu, (+0.48%, April 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,642.00 / troy ounce (-1.28%)

TASI: 6,208 (+0.24%) (YTD: -25.99%)
ADX: 3,921 (+7.39%) (YTD: -22.74%)
DFM: 1,823 (+6.24%) (YTD: -34.07%)
KSE Premier Market: 5,342 (+2.72%)
QE: 8,534 (+3.12%) (YTD: -18.14%)
MSM: 3,556 (+0.06%) (YTD: -10.68%)
BB: 1,385 (+1.82%) (YTD: -13.98%)

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March: South Korean business delegation to visit Egypt.

March: The Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) will visit Egypt to assess the progress of actions taken to combat money laundering and terrorist-sponsoring activities.

March: The French Chamber of Commerce and Industry is sending 10 French companies to Egypt to promote French tourists to visit.

26 March (Thursday): Court session for Amer Group, Porto Group lawsuit against Antaradous.

31 March (Tuesday): Houses of worship expected to be reopened to the public.

2 April (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

2-4 April (Thursday- Saturday): Global Forum for Higher Education and Scientific Research (GFHS2020) under the theme “Future in Action,” new administrative capital, Egypt.

12 April (Sunday): House of Representatives covid-19 recess ends.

12 April (Sunday): Easter Sunday.

12 April (Sunday): Court session for Amer Group, Porto Group compensation claim against Antaradous.

13 April (Monday): Schools and universities expected to resume classes after covid-19 closure.

15 April (Wednesday): International flight suspension in Egypt expected to be lifted.

16 April (Thursday): New deadline for individuals to file their tax returns to the Egyptian Tax Authority.

17-19 April (Friday-Sunday): IMF, World Bank will hold virtual Spring Meetings.

18 April (Saturday): One half of renowned duo 2CELLOS, Stjepan Hauser, known simply as Hauser, will be performing his only show in Egypt and it will take place in Somabay, Hurghada on April 18th. Tickets on sale at Ticketsmarche soon.

19 April (Sunday): Court session for Arabia Investments Holdings’ lawsuit against Peugeot.

19 April (Sunday): Coptic Easter Sunday, national holiday.

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

23 April (Thursday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

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

28-29 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

5-7 May (Tuesday-Thursday): AFSIC – Investing in Africa, London, United Kingdom.

14 May (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

23 May (Saturday): An administrative court will look into an appeal by steel rolling mills to overturn a government’s decision to place import tariffs on steel rebar and iron billets. The hearing was postponed from 22 February 2020.

23-26 May (Saturday-Tuesday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

June: Circular Economy Summit, Egypt, venue TBA.

4-6 June (Thursday-Saturday): 2020 Africa-France Summit, Bordeaux, France.

9-10 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

17-20 June (Wednesday-Saturday): 2019 Automech Formula car expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo.

30 June (Sunday): June 2013 protests anniversary, national holiday.

25 June (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

28-29 July (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

30 July-3 August (Thursday-Monday): Eid El Adha (TBC), national holiday.

13 August (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

20 August (Wednesday-Thursday): Islamic New Year (TBC), national holiday.

15-16 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

24 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

24 September- 2 October (Thursday-Friday): El Gouna Film Festival, El Gouna, Egypt.

6 October (Tuesday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

29 October (Thursday): Prophet Mohamed’s birthday (TBC), national holiday.

November: Egypt will host simultaneously the International Capital Market Association’s emerging market, and Africa and Middle East meetings.

4-5 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

12 November (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

15-16 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

24 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

25 December (Friday): Western Christmas.

1 January 2021 (Friday): New Year’s Day, national holiday.

7 January 2021 (Thursday): Coptic Christmas, national holiday.

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