Sunday, 3 May 2020

A ray of light? Fund managers like Egypt — and the worst of the capital outflows could be over.

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

Welcome to the month of May, ladies and gentlemen. Pandemic or not, we’re sprinting toward summer and … staycations?

It’s budget week at the House of Representatives: The finance and planning ministers will present today the FY2020-2021 state budget to the House Planning and Budgeting Committee, while the health, supply, and CIT ministers will hold committee-level discussions of their respective ministries’ allocations in the budget throughout the week, Al Shorouk reports.

Also on Parliament’s docket: Amendments to the Banking Act are expected to come up for discussion by the House of Representatives’ general assembly this week, after the House Economic Committee finalized amendments to the long-awaited legislation. We have the full rundown of the amendments in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Key news triggers to keep your eye on as we kick off this new month:

  • PMI figures for Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE will land on Tuesday, 5 May;
  • Foreign reserves figures for April will be released during the first week of May;
  • Inflation figures for April are out on Sunday, 10 May.

Must-read of the morning #1- Amid all the talk of lockdowns lifting and economies re-opening, we remind you of Nouriel Roubini’s “white swans of 2020,” published back in February, wherein he suggested (a) that we were on the verge of a pandemic and (b) that financial markets are “blissfully in denial of the many predictable global crises that could come to a head this year.”

What’s Dr. Doom worried about? Having already predicted that the US confrontation with Iran could get worse and that China’s “viral outbreak” could become a pandemic, Roubini noted that “cyberwarfare is ongoing; major holders of US Treasuries are pursuing diversification strategies; the Democratic presidential primary is exposing rifts in the opposition to Trump and already casting doubt on vote-counting processes; rivalries between the US and four revisionist powers are escalating; and the real-world costs of climate change and other environmental trends are mounting.”

Must-read of the morning #2- Are you ready to WFH forever? About a quarter of CEOs polled by PwC report they’re looking to trim real estate expenses as they come under pressure to cut costs. CEOs of Barclays, Mondelez and UBS have all suggested they may let go of some office space because offloading rent and other office-related overheads to staff has proven perfectly efficient, thank you. You’ll definitely want to check out The end of the office? Coronavirus may change work forever in the Financial Times.

The markets today: US shares started the month of May on the wrong foot, with the Nasdaq, S&P and Dow all shedding more than 2% on Friday after President Donald Trump threatened to impose tariffs on China as “punishment” for the covid-19 pandemic, according to Reuters. Western markets are closed today. The EGX30 closed up 0.1% on Thursday amid heavy trading and is now down 24.4% for the year.

So, when do we eat? Maghrib prayers are at 6:34pm and you’ll have until 3:34am to finish caffeinating. Fajr is coming one minute earlier every day through the end of the Holy Month.

COVID-19 IN EGYPT-

Egypt has now disclosed a total of 6,193 confirmed cases of covid-19 after the Health Ministry reported 298 new infections yesterday. The ministry said that another nine people had died from the virus, taking the death toll to 415. We now have a total of 1,970 confirmed cases that have since tested negative for the virus after being hospitalized or isolated, of whom 1,522 have fully recovered.

Friday saw the largest uptick in new reported cases since we started recording the outbreak, coming in at 358. The jump was “within expectations” because people were lax on social distancing precautions in the days leading up to Ramadan, Health Minister Hala Zayed told El Hekaya’s Amr Adib. The minister pointed to Google’s latest mobility report (pdf), which showed a rise in the number of people going to malls and offices as well as using mass transit (watch: runtime 27:59). We have more on this in this morning’s roundup of Last Night’s Talk Shows, below.

Among those who have died from the virus: Cairo University Kasr El Ainy Faculty of Medicine Vice Dean Hisham Saket, according to Al Masry Al Youm.

Traffic Police offices are open for one week starting today from 8am-4pm daily to allow folks to go renew licenses. You’ll be required to wear a face mask if you’re heading in, the Interior Ministry said in a statement.

The Local Development Ministry has reached an agreement with the World Bank to provide EGP 150 mn to improve healthcare facilities in Upper Egypt, according to a statement. The funding is part of a World Bank-sponsored Upper Egypt development program. The proceeds will be used to purchase emergency covid-19 supplies for hospitals specialized in respiratory diseases and fever and quarantine facilities in Qena and Sohag.

More repatriation flights bring back hundreds of Egyptians: Repatriation flights brought back 164 Egyptians stranded in Ukraine, another 342 from Russia, and 136 from Ethiopia and Kenya on Friday, according to Egypt Today. Thursday also saw flights bring back 152 Egyptians from Maldives and Oman. Another flight will bring back an undisclosed number of citizens from Washington today, Al Mal reports.

Energy price cuts to factories cost the state EGP 10 bn -Maait: The government’s recent decision to cut natural gas and electricity prices for factories has cost the state’s coffers an estimated EGP 10 bn, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said yesterday. The price cuts came as part of a bundle of government efforts to support businesses through the outbreak, which Maait says are geared towards turning the crisis into a chance to stir private sector growth.

Mass transit companies are lobbying the Public Transport Authority to grant them a three-month holiday on fees and fines, saying they are unable to meet the payments since covid-19 restrictions have driven down revenues by as much as 75%, Al Shorouk reports.

DONATIONS-

  • CIB has donated EGP 80 mn to an emergency and crisis account set up by the Federation of Egyptian Banks to support impacted families and businesses, USD 2.5 mn to the Tahya Misr fund to help purchase 100 PCR testing machines and kits, and EGP 1.6 mn to help the families of 10k day laborers, Al Masry Al Youm reports.
  • PepsiCo has donated 25k medical masks to the Health Ministry and Tahya Misr fund, CEO Mohamed Shelbaya tells the local press.
  • The Egyptian Exporters Association has donated EGP 1 mn to the General Authority For Supply Commodities to purchase medical supplies for healthcare workers.

(Correction: 3/5/2020- A previous version of this entry incorrectly said that CIB donated EGP 80 mn to the Egyptian Food Bank)

ON THE GLOBAL FRONT-

Saudi Arabia could be taking strict and “painful” measures including cutting government spending “deeply” to protect its economy from the effects of the pandemic and the global oil market crash, the Saudi finance minister told Al Arabiya yesterday (watch, runtime: 20:32).

News on the search for a vaccine — or at least a treatment — for covid-19:

The notion that a vaccine could be widely available in 12-18 months is a “rosy” prediction, the New York Times notes in a piece that lets you play with sliders representing the parameters — from trials to factory-building — that will help determine how fast a vaccine hits the market. One of the biggest obstacles: Making sure every country has access to whichever of the 89 potential vaccines (and counting) proves effective (if any).

The UAE is optimistic about a treatment that saw 73 moderately or severely ill patients make full recoveries after they inhaled a mist of their own extracted, purified stem cells, a senior government official wrote on Twitter.

Those Korean re-infections? They were false positives, it seems — patients who tested positive again due to the release of fragments of viral RNA during the shedding of damaged lung tissue, not reinfection or a reactivation of the virus that causes covid-19, the Korea Herald reports.


Texas and Georgia were the first of around a dozen US states that decided to reopen on Friday, despite warnings from public health experts that prematurely lifting restrictions could cause a spike in cases and deaths, according to the New York Times. Around half of the country will have begun taking steps towards reopening this week. Governors of other states, including New York and Washington, have signaled that lockdown measures will remain in place for at least the rest of the month.

Over on our side of the pond, France is getting ready to ease lockdown measures on 11 May, along with the rest of Europe, but will extend the state of health emergency to 24 July as it closed in on the 25k case milestone, French Health Minister Olivier Véran said, according to AFP.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Mishustin said he tested positive for the virus, Russian news agency TASS reports.

Oil majors ExxonMobil and Chevron painted a rather gloomy picture for the year ahead for the oil industry in their 1Q2020 earnings released over the weekend. Exxon reported (pdf) a USD 610 mn loss during the first quarter of the year, and decided to slash its planned capex spending by nearly a third this year as the pandemic has “significantly impacted near-term demand.” Chevron, meanwhile, saw its 1Q earnings jump 39% y-o-y to USD 3.6 bn, but expects its profits throughout the rest of the year to take a hit as the oil slump takes its toll. The company has also slashed its capex plans by an additional USD 2 bn after announcing a USD 4 bn reduction a few weeks earlier.

Berkshire Hathaway is licking its wounds after first quarter stock market sell off: Warren Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway recorded losses of nearly USD 50 bn (pdf) in the first quarter as the value of its portfolio took a heavy beating from the recent covid-19 sell-off. The Financial Times and Reuters have more. And before you freak out at the notion of a USD 50 bn loss, it ain’t yet a “real” loss. The Oracle of Omaha’s outfit notes that thanks to a change in accounting rules in 2018, “we are required to include the changes in unrealized gains / losses of our equity security investments as a component of investment gains / losses in our earnings statement.”

AND THE REST OF THE WORLD-

Kim Jong-Un finally re-emerges: North Korean state media released photographs of leader Kim Jong-Un on Saturday inaugurating a fertilizer plant after a nearly-three-week disappearance from public life led to speculation about his health, according to Reuters. The rumor mill isn’t resting yet; the newswire notes Kim’s leg appeared to be “stiff and jerky” and it appears the leader was unable to stand for a long period of time.

enterprise

This week on Making It: The latest episode of season two of our podcast on building a great business in Egypt is out. Look for new episodes every Thursday this Ramadan.

On making a pivotal decision: Nola founders Laila and Adel Sedky walk us through going beyond the niche that made them successful. From importing a trend in 2010 to expanding across seven cities, the sibling duo outlines the challenges and strategies for developing and growing a strong brand in a saturated segment of retail foods.

Tap or click here to listen to the episode on: Our website | Apple Podcast | Google Podcast | Omny. We’re also available on Spotify, but only for non-MENA accounts. Subscribe to Making It on your podcatcher of choice here.

Making It is made possible thanks to the generous support of: Our friends at CIB and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

TV power couple Amr Adib and Lamees El Hadidi were back on air yesterday, while most other talking heads are on their annual Ramadan hiatus.

We’re about to hit peak covid-19, but people are starting to break curfew, Hossam Hosny, head of the Health Ministry’s committee to combat covid-19, told El Hadidi. There is still room for stricter penalties and tougher measures to continue containing the outbreak, Hosny added. Hosny’s comments came as Friday saw the largest uptick in new infections since the government began keeping a tally (watch, runtime: 11:59).

But peak covid-19 isn’t a clear call, says infectious disease specialist: El Hadidi also phoned Amgad El Khouly, an infectious diseases consultant for the WHO, who said that it is difficult to figure out where our “peak” really is (watch, runtime: 8:59). The organization expects a second wave of infections, so relaxing containment measures without community awareness may have consequences, says El Kholy.

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

MENA fund managers plan to increase their exposure to Egypt over the next three months, according to a Reuters poll. The majority of managers are bullish on investments in Egypt despite the market’s “exposure” to the economic fallout caused by covid-19, including a drop in tourism and remittances, both of which are key sources of hard currency. One respondent pointed to Egypt being among one of a handful of countries that could avoid seeing its economy contract this year “because of foreign reserves and credit lines with international financial institutions.”

Investors are mixed on UAE, mostly bearish on Saudi: Four of the seven fund managers polled said they would boost their investments in the UAE despite the Abu Dhabi and Dubai stock markets tumbling YTD as shutdown measures spelled doom for the emirates’ aviation and tourism industry. The investors said they’ve pulled out of stocks in the worst-hit sectors and are now looking for “bargains” in markets they see as underpriced. Meanwhile, the picture is less rosy in Saudi Arabia, where four managers are keeping their allocations unchanged but at least one has already cut their exposure last quarter.

enterprise

LEGISLATION WATCH- Latest draft of the Banking Act is set to go to the House today; includes 1% industry development tax, appears to scrap proposed term limits on bank MDs. The House Economic Committee has finalized amendments to a long-awaited overhaul of the Banking and Central Bank Act, clearing the way for the package to go up for a general assembly vote during the House of Representatives’ current term. Masrawy had a copy this weekend of what it says is the final text of the draft bill; here’s a rundown on what you need to know as it is presented to the House today:

A controversial 1% annual tithe on bank profits to endow an industry development fund remains in place, as we noted last month. Still, that’s substantially less than the 5% levy initially proposed in a 2017 draft of the bill.

Banks would have to set aside 0.5% of their deposits over a 10-year period to finance a new deposit insurance and emergency bailout fund.

Revisions to the act appear to have scrapped term limits for private-sector bank MDs previously included in article 118. As it now stands, the law does not outline term limits for board board members or MDs at private-sector institutions save to specify that bank boards will be elected by the general assembly every three years. This would resolve a major sticking point in earlier drafts of the law, which would have allowed the CBE to set limit terms for bank MDs and given it enhanced oversight over boards. The CBE will continue to have power to set competency requirements for executive board members, according to article 118.

The boards and chairmen of state-owned banks shall be appointed by the Prime Minister and will be subject to the same competency approval from the CBE.

The central bank has beaten back a bid by the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) to have a voice in regulating the sector. The revised draft of the bill leaves the central bank as the chief regulator of the sector after the ECA bid to be formally given oversight of fair competition in the industry, according to Youm7. The ECA had argued that the CBE’s role as a shareholder with board representation represents a conflict of interest. The CBE countered that “the special nature of the banking industry” means that it is the natural regulator of the sector.

Banks will have an easier time spinning off individual units under article 98 of the proposed law, giving them more flexibility to reorganize and restructure as they are now required to meet higher minimum capital requirement of EGP 5 bn.

Other amendments by the House Economics Committee worth noting include:

  • Introducing a direct debit mechanism to Egypt, which allows bank clients to schedule payments (such as for mobile phones or utilities) to automatically come out of their accounts.
  • Allowing people to leave the country with more than EGP 10k in local currency in their pocket. The amendments do not include the new limit, leaving it up to the CBE to decide how much you can carry. The limit on FX has been left unchanged at the equivalent of USD 10k.
  • Expanding the definition of government debt instruments beyond bonds and bills to potentially include any other instruments introduced by the government later.
  • Setting a capital requirement of EGP 25 mn for FX exchange companies, reducing by half the requirement set by CBE in previous drafts.
  • Imposing harsher punishments for FX black market dealing, including 3-10 year prison terms and fines of up to EGP 5 mn.
  • Establishing a grievances committee to appeal CBE decisions and penalties against banks.

Correction (03/05/2020): Boards and chairmen of state-owned banks are to be appointed by the Prime Minister without term limits. A previous version of this story incorrectly stated they would be serving two terms only.

Egypt’s commercial banks provided USD to investors in March, helping keep the EGP stable during a bond selloff” in a replay of the 2018 emerging markets rout that hit Egypt alongside other global markets, Bloomberg reports. Reuters also has the story.

Egyptian banks’ net foreign assets (NFAs) dropped 45% m-o-m to EGP 196.66 bn, from EGP 358.78 bn in February, according to data from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE). The EGP 162.12 bn drop came as the covid-19 pandemic spurred capital outflows from the country and other emerging markets, which saw investors pulling a record USD 83 bn from EMs. Net liabilities at commercial banks rose EGP 15.60 bn m-o-m in March to EGP 251.36 bn.

Analysts say we’ve “seen the worst” of the capital outflows. “We are not overly concerned as we have been there post the 2018 sell-off and recovered fairly well,” Renaissance Capital’s head of MENA research Ahmed Hafez tells Bloomberg. In 2018 the emerging markets zombie apocalypse caused Egyptian banks’ NFAs to turn negative in July, and the spread between NFAs and liabilities at commercial banks continued to widen until January 2019. The gap was ultimately closed in February 2019, according to CBE data.

Fresh IMF funding to bolster investor confidence: Egypt seeking fresh funding from the IMF under a one-year rapid financing instrument and a separate stand-by agreement should also do its part in bolstering investor confidence, Bloomberg says. The Madbouly Cabinet has yet to disclose how much financing Egypt is seeking from the lender.

Egypt’s liquified natural gas (LNG) exports made up 1% of the global market in 2019, according to a recent report from the International Gas Union (IGU). In volume terms, exports climbed to 3.5 mn, from 1.4 mn tonnes in 2018, IGU figures showed. CAPMAS figures released earlier this year indicated that last year’s exports were up 150% y-o-y to USD 1.24 bn-worth of LNG. Oil Minister Tarek El Molla had been saying since 2018 that imports would come to an end as of October of that year, and that we would begin exports by January 2019 as more output from gas fields is connected to the national grid.

More on Egypt from the report: Most of our export-bound LNG (1.3 mn tonnes) was sold to countries in the European Union, followed by Pakistan (0.6 mn) and Singapore (0.3 mn). Exports are expected to grow further this year as the Idku LNG plant reached full capacity late last year.

Worldwide, global LNG trade grew 13% y-o-y to 354 mn tonnes in 2019, up from 314 in 2018, with the US, Australia and Russia accounting for the bulk of the increase. Meanwhile, Qatar maintained its position as the world’s largest exporter with 77.8 mn tonnes, followed by Australia (75.4 mn) and the US (33.8 mn). You can visit the report’s landing page here.

M&A WATCH- At least six foreign and Egyptian investors have shown interest in acquiring a stake in Raya Holding's recycled plastic producer BariQ, including an Egyptian investment institution that seeks full ownership, Al Mal reports, citing an unnamed source Five other foreign and local investors have made non-binding offers to acquire minority stakes in the company and have submitted letters of credit pending due diligence over BariQ, which the source sees becoming binding offers in two to three months. The board of directors will study all the offers once their values are penned, the source added.

Background: Raya had announced last month receiving offers of interest for minority and majority stakes in BariQ, which plans to spend EGP 300 mn to establish new production lines and double its output capacity to 3.2 bn recyclable bottles per year.

STARTUP WATCH- Egypt-based blockchain email service provider Pravica has raised a USD 500k pre-seed funding round led by 500 Startups, Magnitt reports. Modus Capital and Dyres Ventures also participated in the round. Pravica, which was originally named Dmails, plans to use the funding to grow its team and expand its product “by developing additional private communication tools.” The expansion is geared towards growing its customer base. Founded in 2019, the email service provider uses a decentralized blockchain network to ensure its users’ data privacy and security.

STARTUP WATCH- Fintech fund Disruptech plans to invest an unspecified amount in 15-18 startups over the next three years, founder (and former Fawry CEO) Mohamed Okasha tells Al Mal. The USD 25 mn fintech fund is also in negotiations with local and international banks and institutions to contribute to the fund’s capital. Disruptech made its first investment in two Egyptian startups, Khazna and Brimore last month. The fund did not disclose the size of the investment.

Egypt ranked 61 out of 117 countries in the International Budget Partnership’s Open Budget Survey, which ranks countries for the transparency of their budget. Egypt inched up four spots from 65th when the biennial report last came out in 2017, and is now in the #2 spot regionally behind Jordan, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement. The minister attributed the improved ranking to the government increasing access to budget figures through its publication of the citizen’s budget and pre-budget statements.

Where we got tub-tubs: The report gives us a star for the Finance Ministry publishing pre-budget statements and citizen budgets, albeit “late,” and also for the availability of a year-end report. These have brought our transparency score to 43 (up from 41 since the report’s last iteration). The global average is 45 points out of 100, but the report sets its benchmark at 61 points. The report suggests our score will improve by issuing the reports earlier and providing more detail in the final breakdown of expenditures in the state budget’s end-of-year report.

Where we could stand to improve: Our weakest point in the index is public participation, where we scored 15 out of 100 points. We’re not alone, though — the global average is just 14. The survey recommends rolling out mechanisms to engage civil society organizations and marginalized communities in the budgeting process. We also scored 50 out of 100 points in the oversight index, due to what the report sees as a “limited role” played by the House of Representatives during the planning and implementation stages of the budget cycle. The survey also recommends bringing in an independent auditor to review the state’s year-end accounts.

You can check out the survey’s country report here (pdf), or view the Egypt landing page.

Twenty terrorists killed in retaliatory raids after 10 troops die in Bir El Abd bombing: Security forces killed 20 terrorists in two separate raids in North Sinai’s Bir El Abd after a bomb attack on an armored vehicle on Thursday killed 10 members of the Armed Forces. The Daeshbags claimed responsibility for the Thursday attack on its Amaq news agency, Reuters reports. The army killed two terrorists on Friday in a retaliatory raid, while national security officers killed another 18 terrorists in a separate raid yesterday.

International condemnation: The US Embassy in Cairo and Ambassador Jonathan Cohen each issued statements condemning Thursday’s bombing, and extended condolences to the families of the victims. The Arab Parliament and Libya’s east-based House of Representatives also condemned the attack.

The story earned plenty of digital ink over the weekend: Reuters | Associated Press | Telegraph.

EFG Hermes topped the EGX’s brokerage league table in April with a market share of 28.7%, according to Al Mal. CI Capital came in second with a market share of 12.1%. Al Mal did not report the figure for Dynamic, which is owned by CI Capital and typically reports a c.0.5% market share. Pharos came in third at 4.8%, followed by Pioneers (3.7%), Beltone (3.7%), Arqaam (3.3%), and Naeem (3.2%).

EARNINGS WATCH- GSK profits soar 291% in FY 2019: GlaxoSmithKline’s local subsidiary reported profits of EGP 142.63 mn in FY2019, up 291% from EGP 49.92 mn in FY2018, according to a disclosure to the EGX (pdf).

MOVES- CIT Minister Amr Talaat has appointed Sherine El Guindy (bio) as assistant minister for strategy and implementation, according to a press release. El Guindy will assume her new role for one year. She was previously advisor to the minister for technology parks.

MOVES- Mohamed El Abassy has been appointed as chairman and managing director of fertilizer manufacturer Egyptian Financial and Industrial Co. (EFIC), replacing Abdel Aal Tolba El Banna, the company said in a regulatory disclosure (pdf). El Banna had been named chairman of the company in April last year.

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The Macro Picture

China’s Belt and Road loans are coming under pressure amid pandemic squeeze: Several countries are seeking debt relief from China on loans handed out by its banks under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as the covid-19 pandemic is straining their economies, the Financial Times reports. Chinese lenders, including Exim Bank and China Development Bank, are considering suspending interest payments on the loans, while one policy adviser says certain borrowers could be allowed to reschedule their debts. Writing them off entirely, however, appears to be out of the question.

The debt relief requests appear to be concentrated in Africa, where lenders have doled out USD 461 bn in loans for BRI projects since 2013, according to figures from RWR Advisory. So far, Egypt is not among the countries that have requested debt relief from China. Cairo has borrowed some USD 15 bn from Chinese lenders through the initiative, including USD 3 bn for the new administrative capital’s central business district from a group of lenders led by state-owned Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. China has come under fire multiple times before for the initiative, which some countries have criticized as the “new version of colonialism” that has lured countries into debt traps. Loans to lower-income nations caused the IMF to rate in 2017 public debt as “unsustainable” or “at high risk of unsustainability” in 32 countries, compared to only 15 in 2013.

Egypt in the News

Leading the conversation on Egypt in the foreign press this morning is the death of satirical filmmaker Shady Habash, 23, in Tora Prison, where he had been in pre-trial detention since 2018. The cause of Habash’s death has not yet been disclosed. The story is getting ink in: NY Times | BBC Arabic | Washington Post | France’s AFP | Deutsche Welle | Wall Street Journal | International Business Times | The Guardian.

Other headlines to keep on your radar:

  • Foreign Policy suggests that the covid-19 outbreak could have an impact on politics in Egypt.
  • Reuters looks at the drying-up of remittances from foreign workers, including Egyptians in the Gulf, due to lockdown measures.
  • The harvest must go on: Reuters is out with a feature on curfew-exempt Egyptian farmers during the wheat harvest season, as the country aims to increase its strategic commodity reserves.
  • Ramadan drama spills over into diplomatic ties: Israel’s Foreign Ministry has issued a statement denouncing Egyptian mosalsal “El Nehaya,” which depicts a future absent of the Israeli state, according to the Guardian.
  • Bringing the circus home: The AP and VOA News both look at a sibling duo from a family of lion tamers who are now putting on shows with a circus lion from their homes.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Madbouly, Al Mashat talk to international institutions about ways to support Egypt through the pandemic: Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly and International Cooperation Minister Rania Al Mashat spoke on Thursday with officials from a handful of lenders about supporting the private sector through the covid-19 crisis, providing credit lines to banks, and offering solidarity packages. The lenders included the World Bank, International Finance Corporation, European Investment Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, and the African Development Bank.

Jordan has resumed imports of Egyptian agricultural and food products, according to a letter from the General Organization for Export and Import Control picked up by Al Mal. Jordan had suspended all inbound and outbound flights and ships as part of its bid to curb the spread of the covid-19. Other Egyptian exports to Jordan are still suspended.

Automotive + Transportation

Suez Canal Authority cuts passage fees reduced for two months

The Suez Canal Authority has reduced fees for container ships crossing the Suez Canal until 30 June. Fees will be slashed by 60%-75% for transit container ships originating from the US and heading to destinations in Southeast Asia. Container ships originating from Northwest European ports and the ports of Tangier and Algeria, also heading to Southeast Asian ports, will see fees reduced by 17% as of 1 May and until 30 June. The SCA has regularly been offering discounts to vessels passing through the canal in a bid to attract more traffic.

Legislation + Policy

FinMin raises fees in exec regs of Customs Act

The Finance Ministry raised a handful of customs fees outlined in the executive regulations of the Customs Act, according to a decision published in the Official Gazette and picked up by Al Masdar. The increased costs include the deposit required for the release of goods, the royalties paid to the Customs Authority for goods stored in customs, and the cost of issuing official documents and storing goods.

On Your Way Out

Gov’t relocates Karnak’s four ram-headed sphinxes to Tahrir Square: The government has moved four ram-headed sphinx statues from Luxor’s Karnak Temple to Tahrir Square after renovation work, according to a Tourism and Antiquities Ministry statement. The statues were placed on pedestals near the King Ramses II obelisk, which was recently reassembled in Tahrir. Euronews took note of the story, suggesting that the move could endanger the iconic statues due to the capital’s high pollution levels.

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 15.60
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.68 | Sell 15.78

EGX30 (Thursday): 10,554 (+0.1%)
Turnover: EGP 1.0 bn (49% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -24.4%

THE MARKET ON THURSDAY: The EGX30 ended Thursday’s session up 0.1%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended up 0.5%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were AMOC up 4.8%, Juhayna up 3.2%, and Qalaa Holdings up 1.8%. Thursday’s worst performing stocks were CIRA (down 4.3%), Egyptian Resorts (-2.8%) and Dice (- 2.2%). Market turnover was EGP 1 bn and local investors were the sole net sellers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -112.2 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -21.2 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +133.3 mn

Retail: 58.8% of total trades | 56.1% of buyers | 61.6% of sellers
Institutions: 41.2% of total trades | 43.9% of buyers | 38.4% of sellers

WTI: USD 19.78 (+4.99%)
Brent: USD 26.44 (-0.15%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 1.89 MMBtu, (-3.03%, Jun 2020)
Gold: USD 1,700.90 / troy ounce (+0.40%)

TASI: 7,112.90 (+1.83%) (YTD: -15.21%)
ADX: 4,230.37 (+0.20%) (YTD: -16.66%)
DFM: 2,026.61 (+1.12%) (YTD: -26.70%)
KSE Premier Market: 5,356.25 (+1.72%)
QE: 8,764.05 (+0.72%) (YTD: -15.94%)
MSM: 3,539.46 (+0.02%) (YTD: -11.10%)
BB: 1,310.73 (+0.16%) (YTD: -18.60%)

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Calendar

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

23 May (Saturday): Earliest date on which suspension of international flights to / from Egypt expires.

23 May (Saturday): Earliest date by which restaurants, gyms, nightclubs, museums and archaeological sites will reopen.

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).

31 May (Sunday): A postponed court session for the lawsuit filed by Cairo Development and Auto Industry, a subsidiary of Arabia Investment Holding, against Peugeot Automotive to demand EUR 150 mn compensation.

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

30 June (Sunday): Anniversary of the June 2013 protests, 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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