Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Egypt could be safer from Evergrande contagion than other EMs, Arqaam says

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning, nice people, and welcome to a reasonably calm morning for news, with some M&A news, the latest from planet startup and word that the country’s critical real estate industry all competing for your attention. All of these stories, though, are playing second fiddle in the mainstream press to coverage of President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s address to the UN General Assembly as well as the death yesterday of former SCAF leader Mohamed Hussein Tantawi. We have chapter and verse on all of this and more, below.

We’re no longer on the UK’s red list as of two hours ago: Egyptians and non-Egyptians alike can now make much more affordable trips to the UK under an only slightly-less-confusing covid testing and quarantine regime. Check out the new rules here.

HAPPENING TODAY-

IMF + EBRD webinar: Public Enterprises Minister Hisham Tawfik will speak during a webinar hosted by the IMF and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) today at 3pm CLT. The gathering is running under title of “State-owned enterprises in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia,” with Tawfik set to speak on the role of the state in the economy alongside five other panelists including the IMF’s Middle East and Central Asia head Jihad Azour and the EBRD’s head of external relations Alan Rousso. Check out the agenda here.

The Cityscape real estate investment conference starts today at the Egypt International Exhibition Center. The event runs through to Saturday.

And it’s the last day of the Egyptian Ins. Federation’s Rendezvous conference in Sharm El Sheikh.

THE BIG STORIES ABROAD-

It’s Fed day, and markets are trading sideways ahead of chairman Jay Powell’s speech later today — and as traders around the world keep a wary eye on whether today’s the day that real estate developer China Evergrande — the “world’s most-indebted company” — defaults on its pile of debt. Here’s the state of play right now:

US stocks went up, then down, then up, then down before closing little changed on Tuesday, as the morning’s optimism gave way to volatility that saw investors whipsawed throughout the day. The S&P 500 closed down 0.1%, the tech-heavy Nasdaq Composite was up 0.1%, and the blue-chip Dow Jones fell 0.2% at close, according to Bloomberg.

The MSCI world index was similarly unchanged, rising 0.1%, while the European Stoxx 600 rebounded 1% after its biggest drop in two months.

Middle East markets were mixed: Shares in Saudi and Abu Dhabi were little changed from Monday, though the Dubai index lost another 1.2%.

Egyptian shares were harder hit: The EGX continued its sell-off yesterday, falling another 2% to leave the index down 3.2% YTD. Basic materials and chemicals companies led the way into the red, with Ezz Steel losing 8.3%, Alexandria Mineral Oils Company falling 7.5% and Sidpec down 6.8%.

The day ahead: Shares in China and Japan are both in the red again in early trading this morning. European and US shares are all currently forecast to open in the green, according to the futures markets.

What to look for from Mr. Powell: CNBC’s Patti Domm hit the nail on the head when she writes that the Fed is going to “look to soothe markets” at the same time as it “prepares investors for an end to bond buying.” Market watchers will be “squarely [focused] on what the Fed now forecasts for interest rates and inflation.”

So how should you be thinking about Evergrande and systemic risk? That question is bedeviling analysts this morning.

There could well be contagion in other emerging markets should China’s largest property developer default, Arqaam Capital’s Zeina Rizk told Bloomberg yesterday (watch runtime: 4:39). “The fear is there, the risk of contagion is there. We haven’t seen it yet. We have seen some weakness in the market but I think this is being driven by China being away and the Fed being on Wednesday … but I think if we actually have a default then we may well see a contagion in other emerging markets.”

Strong yields and macro stability mean that Egyptian bonds should hold up better than other local-currency EM bonds in the event of further turbulence, Rizk said. “We do like Egypt versus the rest of the emerging markets … Inflation is well behaved. The CBE reserves are stable despite the volatility. We think that the banks will continue to take any shocks and we are still comfortable with Egypt.”

Evergrande is both (probably) not a contagion in the making — and maybe worse than we all fear. That’s the emerging consensus among pundits who believe that (a) the Chinese communist party simply won’t allow Evergrande to set fire to banks or other developers. Instead, officials will ensure that “the most profitable parts of its business are bought up by rivals and the debt underwritten by either the [People’s Bank of China] directly, or by a consortium of Chinese commercial banks with the help of a liquidity injection by the PBOC.”

But there’s a growing view that (b) the company’s collapse could still have a significant and lasting impact on China’s economy, dragging down consumer optimism if housing prices are seen cratering in a market that has seen home values skyrocket — on paper, at least. “A prolonged, messy and psychologically costly mop-up could kill growth in the most important part of the Chinese economy” in a worst-case scenario. Go read this piece in the Financial Times and this one in the Wall Street Journal if you’re in the mood to dive deeper.


*** CATCH UP QUICK with the top stories from yesterday’s edition of EnterprisePM:

  • Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawy has died at the age of 85: Ittihadiya yesterday announced a period of national mourning until Thursday to commemorate the death of the former defence minister.
  • Meet our analyst of the week: Nada Wagdy, equity research analyst at Prime Holding.
  • Trudeau re-elected: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau failed to secure a majority of the seats in parliament, however, which means he will have to rely on other parties to pass legislation.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

Conference season continues next week with ITIDA’s DevOpsDays Cairo 2021, which is being organized together with Software Engineering Competence Center, DXC Technology, IBM Egypt and Orange Labs. The event will take place on Wednesday, 29 September. Other events include:

  • Egypt Projects 2021 construction expo, which will take place at the Egypt International Exhibition Center on 30 September-2 October.
  • The Cairo International Fair, which will take place on 30 September-8 October at the Cairo International Conference Center.
  • The deadline to register for the American University in Cairo (AUC) Business School’s Private Equity Diploma is coming up on 28 September.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

enterprise

*** It’s Hardhat day — your weekly briefing of all things infrastructure in Egypt: Enterprise’s industry vertical focuses each Wednesday on infrastructure, covering everything from energy, water, transportation, and urban development, as well as social infrastructure such as health and education.

In today’s issue: Fitch is forecasting growth in Egypt’s fertilizer sector between now and 2025 off the back of rising production and exports. But while the government has said it wants to develop the industry, its focus appears to be on domestic consumption — which Fitch says will likely plateau in the years ahead. Despite a fivefold increase in nitrogen fertilizer export fees this year, Fitch predicts an increase in exports, particularly to MENA and sub-Saharan Africa.

enterprise

We can’t wait to see the endurance sports community back at Somabay Redsea, taking on the Supersprint, Sprint, Olympic, Youth, & Kids Races at a destination that’s truly outstanding by nature.

M&A WATCH

Contact Cars acquires Sa3ar

Egyptian auto marketplace Contact Cars has acquired car e-commerce platform Sa3ar for an undisclosed sum, the company announced (pdf) yesterday.

Sa3ar is an online platform that allows customers to value, sell, and bid for used cars. It offers technology that enables sellers to value vehicles at no charge while backing a dealer-specific auction platform. Contact Cars, a subsidiary of Contact Financial, said it will work with the Sa3ar team to integrate its pricing and auction technology into its platform and launch new services.

More investment and / or M&A to come? “This is just the first step in a series of investments which will be announced in due course,” Contact Financial CEO Saeed Zater said.

Contact Financial has been busy lately, joining forces with Abou Ghaly Motors to launch a new provider of auto loans. It is also looking to launch an e-payments company soon and could obtain a license later this month.

STARTUP WATCH

E-commerce player Cartona raises USD 4.5 mn pre-series A funding

Egyptian B2B e-commerce platform Cartona has raised USD 4.5 mn in a pre-series A round led by the Dubai-based VC firm Global Ventures, the company said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. The Tokyo-based Kepple Africa Ventures, T5 Capital and a group of angel investors participated in the round. The company will use the money to upgrade its tech and introduce embedded finance to its platform.

What is Cartona? Founded in August 2020, Cartona operates a digital marketplace that allows grocery retailers to purchase fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) from sellers online. It provides real-time price comparisons and estimated delivery times to retailers, while offering access to analytics to sellers. More than 10k products are listed on its platform including dry, fresh and frozen food.

Cartona has landed more than 30k users in Cairo and Alexandria since it started operating a year ago. It has processed more than 400k orders with an annualized gross merchandise value of EGP 1 bn. It works with 100 FMCG companies, 1k distributors and wholesalers.

Advisors: Venture by Shahid represented Cartona alongside Saman Sadeghi, a partner at Dutch law firm Van CampenLiem.

ALSO FROM PLANET STARTUP-

Cairo-based e-commerce platform Shiphaly raised an undisclosed six-figure round from Saudi and Egyptian angel investors, the company announced (pdf). The company did not disclose the currency in which they raised the round.

What does Shiphaly do? The platform connects shoppers who want to buy products sold overseas with travelers who can buy and deliver these products in return for a fee. Shoppers post the item they want to buy, wait to receive offers from travellers able to purchase it, and meet the traveller to pick it up.

Launched in late 2019, the startup had a tough 2020 due to covid and international travel bans but has started to see its fortunes turn around and through 2021 has seen delivery orders increase 25% month-on-month.

This isn’t the first time Shiphaly has received investment: The startup received an undisclosed amount of funding from Flat6Labs in 2019.

REAL ESTATE

Real estate firms could soon face closer regulatory scrutiny

Real estate companies could face closer regulatory scrutiny under proposals designed to mitigate risk in the sector, a senior Housing Ministry official suggested in remarks to reporters on the sidelines of the Cityscape industry conference in Cairo.

What’s the proposal? Vice Minister for Housing Khaled Abbas said the measures could see auditors assigned to each real estate developer and a requirement to produce quarterly reports on their projects and activities, according to stories in Al Mal and Al Masdar. We reached out to Abbas yesterday to dig deeper, but he was not available for comment before dispatch time.

Also on the table: Abbas told reporters that the ministry and the New Urban Communities Authority are also considering having real estate developers create separate bank accounts for each of their developments, which would allow auditors to monitor the project’s finances. Policymakers are also discussing further measures to protect buyers, including requiring developers to purchase ins. policies that pay out if they break contractual terms. Last month, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi directed that real estate developers not list their projects for sale until 30% of the project is completed, Ahram Gate reported.

Sweeping regulatory changes to the sector are currently under consideration in the House: A bill reviewed by the House Housing Committee in July would create a state-backed real estate federation that would be in charge of issuing licenses, monitoring companies’ performances, handing out fines, and managing company-client disputes.

Mitigating risk: Real estate developers would be divided into seven categories based on their solvency, and land would be distributed based on companies’ finances, their technical expertise and business history. This would help prevent projects from being delayed and companies from entering financial difficulties.

BASIC MATERIALS

Building materials distributors want cement supply cuts to be scrapped

Some building materials companies aren’t happy about the cement supply cuts: Sellers of building materials are planning to lobby Egypt’s competition watchdog to scrap cement production cuts put in place earlier this year as rising prices put distributors under pressure. Ahmed El Zeini, head of the building materials division at the Chamber of Commerce, tells us his group plans to meet the Egyptian Competition Authority (ECA) with a view to convincing it to reverse the cuts, which were introduced in July to pull cement manufacturers out of an oversupply-driven tailspin. The story was first reported by Al Mal.

Prices are on the rise: Local cement prices have risen 20% between January and August, reaching EGP 900 a tonne by the end of August, according to official figures (pdf). A tonne of cement sold for around EGP 750-850 when the cuts were introduced in mid-July, but according to El Zeini prices have risen by around EGP 200 to EGP 950-1,100 over the past two months.

The system of production quotas was green-lit by the ECA to bail out manufacturers in an industry marked by far more production capacity than there is market demand. The supply glut had forced several companies to suspend operations and left others on the brink of exiting the market. All 23 companies operating in Egypt have agreed to cut production by more than 10% until July 2022 in a bid to ease the supply glut and lift prices.

The cement industry isn’t as convinced that the cuts are having enough of an impact on prices, with some saying that it is still too early to assess the market and others threatening to withdraw from the quotas if prices do not go higher.

The reduced supply of cement is having an impact on transportation costs for distributors of building materials, which El Zeini tells us have risen from EGP 45-110 per tonne to EGP 60-150. This is because trucks are having to wait for 2-3 days to fill due to the production caps, he says.

COVID WATCH

How long before Egyptian vaccine certificates are recognized abroad?

The UK is working with the Egyptian government on how to make Egyptian vaccine certificates recognized by the UK, the British Embassy in Cairo said on Twitter yesterday. “We are now working with the Egyptian government to come up with a mechanism that will make vaccination certificates, for those who received the vaccine in Egypt, recognized in the UK,” it said, without providing further details.

The UK government only recognizes vaccination certificates from a small number of countries around the world, and has not given regulatory approval to two of the most common vaccines in Egypt: Sinovac and Sinopharm. A mechanism to recognize locally administered jabs would allow vaccinated travelers from Egypt to bypass the three PCR tests and 10-day self-quarantine that will remain necessary for the unvaccinated.

Don’t get your hopes too high: This quite likely only a case of “how do we recognize your Egyptian proof of vaccination and tell a fake from the real ones” — not “we’re maybe / possibly / potentially willing to accept your made-in-Egypt Sinovac jab.”

The embassy also confirmed that Egypt is no longer on the UK’s red list as of 4am this morning. We’ll be amber-listed until 4 October, when a new, two-tier system comes into place that will allow vaccinated travelers from green-listed countries to enter the UK without any form of quarantine or pre-travel testing.

The Health Ministry reported 688 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 679 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 298,296 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 24 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 17,016.

DIPLOMACY

El Sisi speaks to UN assembly on vaccines, African debt, and GERD: Covid-19, the GERD crisis, climate change and debt relief for developing countries all came up in President Abdel Fattah El Sisi’s address to the UN General Assembly in New York yesterday (watch, runtime: 13:47). Speaking to the assembly via video conference, El Sisi called on international lenders to alleviate the debt burden on developing countries, urging financial institutions to facilitate borrowing by providing concessional financing and encouraging investment. Noting the IMF’s recent USD 650 bn SDR issuance, he said ways should be explored to use those resources to serve development needs.

On vaccine inequality, El Sisi said that the fair distribution of vaccines needs to be a top priority, pointing to Africa’s particular need. He said Egypt has been keen to localize the production of coronavirus vaccines, both for domestic use and export to the continent.

And, of course, GERD: The president reiterated that Egypt remains committed to a fair, balanced and legally-binding agreement on Ethiopia’s hydropower mega-dam, but said that Ethiopia’s refusal to negotiate in good faith is posing a “widespread threat to the security and stability of the region.” Egypt and Sudan earlier this year tried to force a resolution on the issue at the UN Security Council, but world powers declined to take sides in the dispute and urged the continuation of the current African Union-led process.

Other highlights: El-Sisi spoke on climate change, again plugging Egypt’s interest in hosting the UN’s COP27 climate summit next year. He also called to consolidate the ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and urged member states to donate aid to Palestinian humanitarian and reconstruction efforts. On terrorism, he asked all states to abide by international law and UNSC rulings, adding that countries that harbor foreign fighters should be held accountable. He also defended Egypt’s policy on human rights.

MOVES

Orascom Development Egypt has appointed Nicola Kheir the general manager of El Gouna, according to a statement (pdf).

enterprise

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

The death of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi topped the coverage on the talk shows last night: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi announced three days of nationwide mourning after Tantawi passed away yesterday at the age of 85. The president led a military funeral procession for Tantawi.

Coverage was everywhere last night: Kelma Akhira (watch, runtime: 4:01), Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 7:13), Al Hadath Al Youm (watch, runtime: 2:38), Yahduth Fi Masr (watch, runtime: 2:53), Hadith Al-Qahera (watch, runtime: 7:32) and Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 2:16).

El Sisi’s virtual UN General Assembly address last night got coverage across the airwaves. There was little in the way of commentary or analysis, perhaps owing to the time at which the president’s statement was played in New York, with the talking heads sticking to airing clips of El Sisi speaking. You can watch it in full here (watch, runtime: 13:47), and check out our coverage in the morning’s Diplomacy section, above.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

The death of Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi yesterday leads coverage of Egypt in the international press this morning: Associated Press | Reuters | AFP | The Guardian | Der Spiegel.

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Japan Tobacco International (JTI) is still lobbying to amend the contentious tender to offer additional licenses to sell tobacco products, proposing that either the government separates e-cigarettes from traditional cigarettes — as we reported last month — or offer multiple licenses, Al Mal reports.

Other things we’re keeping an eye on this morning:

  • CIB has signed a five-year partnership agreement with Visa to support SMEs by offering Visa banking services to CIB’s SME clients, Hapi Journal reports citing a statement from the bank.
  • The National Bank of Egypt (NBE) has received a license to accept payments through its mobile application “Tap on Phone,” the bank announced in a statement (pdf). This will allow suppliers to use the application to collect payments, instead of the traditional electronic point of sale methods
  • Egyptians living and working abroad could soon have access to a new life ins. policy, to be developed by the Immigration Ministry, the Financial Regulatory Authority, and the Ins. Federation of Egypt under the terms of an MoU. A EGP 100k ins. policy will have a EGP 100 annual premium.

PLANET FINANCE

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EFG Hermes - https://efghermes.com/

A star is born: Universal Music Group’s shares jumped by more than 40% in their stock market debut in Amsterdam yesterday, handing the company a EUR 46 bn valuation. The company’s shares climbed to EUR 26.45, up 43% from their EUR 18.50 reference price on the Euronext Amsterdam stock exchange, making it Europe’s largest listing of the year so far.

Lebanon’s annual inflation is now the highest of all countries tracked by Bloomberg, surpassing that of Zimbabwe and Venezuela as the country’s economy continues to crumble. Official data released this week showed that annual consumer price inflation rose to a stunning 137.8% in August, compared with 123.4% in July. The prolonged economic and financial crisis has caused the Lebanese pound to lose 90% of its value and has plunged three-quarters of the population into poverty.

Zoom’s China ties under US scrutiny amid USD 15 bn bid for Five9: Zoom’s USD 15 bn bid for customer service software Five9 is facing scrutiny from the Justice Department, which is investigating the videoconferencing company’s ties to China, the Wall Street Journal report and the Financial Times report. The investigators are assessing whether Zoom “poses a risk to the national security or law enforcement interests,” a turn of events that is coming at an inopportune time for the company, which has seen its shares fall more than 20% as appetite for its software wanes post-lockdown. The company said it expects to receive approval during 1H2022, which could keep it on track to close the acquisition as planned.

Zoom looks to be at risk of becoming the latest firm caught in the crosshairs of increasingly rocky US-Chinese relations: Though based in Silicon Valley, the company’s links to China have been under increasing US scrutiny, due to its large China-based developer base and its cooperation with authorities in Beijing.

Down

EGX30

10,499

-2.0% (YTD: -3.2%)

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USD (CBE)

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

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USD at CIB

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

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Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

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Tadawul

11,315

-0.1% (YTD: +30.2%)

Up

ADX

7,754

+0.1% (YTD: +53.7%)

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DFM

2,837

-1.2% (YTD: +13.9%)

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S&P 500

4,354

-0.1% (YTD: +15.9%)

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FTSE 100

6,980

+1.1% (YTD: +8.1%)

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Brent crude

USD 74.36

+0.6%

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Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 4.81

+0.1%

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Gold

USD 1,775.70

-0.1%

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BTC

USD 41,498

-4.7% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 2% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.5 bn (4.4% below the 90-day average). Local investors were net sellers. The index is down 3.2% YTD.

In the green: GB Auto (+1.3%), EFG Hermes (+0.1%) and Fawry (+0.1%).

In the red: Ezz Steel (-8.3%), Raya (-7.7%) and AMOC (-7.5%).

AROUND THE WORLD

The UAE is in talks with Ankara on investment in Turkey’s energy sector, Turkey’s deputy energy minister told reporters yesterday, according to Reuters. Speaking on the sidelines of the Gastech conference in Dubai, Alparslan Bayraktar said he will meet the UAE’s energy minister today to continue talks. The discussions are a further sign of a thaw in tensions between the UAE and its longtime regional rival, after Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan took a call with Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan earlier this month.

Things also look good on the fence-mending front between the UAE and Qatar, the Washington Post reports, as the two countries’ oil ministers shared a stage at the conference, in the first such visit since the lifting of Egypt and the GCC’s 2017 blockade on Qatar at the start of the year.

Talks on restoring the Iran-US nuclear accord could be revived within weeks, Bloomberg reports, citing comments by Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson made on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly. Talks on the pact have been stalled for several months, after Iran elected conservative hardliner Ebrahim Raisi to the presidency and the country moved to step up its nuclear activities in retaliation for continued US sanctions. Raisi harshly criticized the US in his inaugural UN address yesterday, calling the sanctions “crimes against humanity.”

hardhat

Fitch “upbeat” on Egypt’s fertilizer sector on rising production + exports: Production and exports in Egypt’s fertilizer sector will continue to increase between now and 2025, despite recent hikes on export fees, Fitch said in a recent report. Egypt is already a major player in the global fertilizer market, and will likely reinforce its position over the coming three years as plateauing domestic consumption and increased production allows companies to increase exports, particularly to the sub-Saharan Africa and MENA regions, the research firm wrote.

“We hold an upbeat outlook for Egypt's fertilizer sector, with a number of ongoing and planned projects expected to increase production capacity, especially for nitrogen fertilizer,” Fitch wrote.

Investments in nitrogen fertilizer are boosting output: Key investments include the new fertilizer complex being built by Thyssenkrupp for El Nasr Company for Intermediate Chemicals (NCIC) — under a contract in the “mid-three-digit mn EUR range” — expected to be operational by 2022. And Dutch fertilizer plant developer Stamicarbon signed a contract with Abu Qir Fertilizers in April to revamp one of their urea melt plants, expected to be operational in 2025.

Phosphate fertilizer production is also growing: Nitrogen fertilizer is more widely produced than phosphate and potash, but phosphate production also seems to be growing. Still, the investment focus on nitrogen means the production gap between the two is expected to widen, Fitch notes.

The government has acknowledged the importance of the sector, with Trade Minister Nevine Gamea recently saying that the government wants to develop the industry.

But Fitch expects its focus to be on the domestic market: “We expect the government’s focus to be on the domestic production and demand for fertilizers, rather than promoting exports for the time being,” it wrote in the report, citing the ministry’s recent export tariff hikes.

Nitrogen export fees have almost quintupled this year: The Trade Ministry has hiked fees on nitrogen exports twice this year in a bid to slow down the pace of exports amid rising global prices and secure local supply. Companies now have to pay EGP 2.5k to export a ton of nitrogen fertilizer until mid-2022, up from EGP 550 at the beginning of the year.

How much the tariffs impact investment in the sector may depend on whether the government hikes again: “Over the long term, we do not expect protectionist policies by the government to significantly restrict fertilizer export abilities, although a continued increase in export fees could hinder investment in the sector,” Fitch said.

Some players in the local market expect domestic consumption to increase: The CEO of state-owned Helwan Fertilizers has forecast an uptick in domestic demand as the Agriculture Ministry tries to expand the amount of arable land and increase agricultural production.

But Fitch disagrees, forecasting limited crop production growth between now and the middle of the decade. It predicts that maize, rice and wheat production — which account for some 60% of the country’s use of nitrogen fertilizer — will only increase by 0.9-2% over the next four years due to underdeveloped irrigation networks. In addition, the use of nitrogen fertilizer in Egypt is already very high, giving it little room for growth on existing farmland, it said.

This opens up a chance to increase exports: “As we believe that crop production growth in Egypt will be subdued over the next five years … we expect the country to increase its fertilizer exports,” Fitch wrote.

Demand from our key nitrogen fertilizer export destinations is forecast to remain flat: Demand in Egypt’s top European export destinations, including France, Spain and Greece, are not likely to increase in the coming years, with the EU pushing for reductions in fertilizer use, the report says. In India, a relatively new but growing export destination for Egypt’s nitrogen fertilizers, the government is curbing fertilizer application rates, while also reviving its domestic nitrogen fertilizer industry — both of which will stymie imports.

Enter MENA and Africa as new export destinations: “Lackluster” consumption in their current principal destinations will see Egypt’s fertilizer exporters seeking new markets, with MENA and Africa important areas for growth, Fitch said. Sub-Saharan Africa’s current low levels of fertilizer consumption will likely be boosted by some governments trying to subsidize private sector fertilizer imports, while the lack of major local producers provides an opening for Egyptian firms to become strategic partners in the region. Still, it notes that significant increases in Africa’s fertilizer imports are unlikely to be seen until almost the end of the decade.

And phosphate fertilizer exports to the Americas should grow through 2025: Egypt will likely benefit from a reduction of 300k tons in phosphoric fertilizer production capacity in the Americas by 2024, anticipated by the International Fertilizer Industry Association, which will increase import demand in the coming years, Fitch said. Brazil, Uruguay and the US have been the top destinations for Egyptian phosphate fertilizer exports since 2017. In 2018 and 2019, Egypt was Brazil’s largest supplier of phosphate fertilizer.

Compound fertilizer exports are growing too — but not at the rate of single-element fertilizers like nitrogen. Egypt isn’t yet a major player in the global compound fertilizer market, and our contribution is likely to remain small through 2025, the report notes. In 2020, we exported only 119k tons of mineral or chemical fertilizer containing at least two elements, compared to the 10.3 mn exported by Morocco. Still, this was a “notable increase” from the 4.5k tons we exported in 2016, the report notes. New investments do seem to be on the horizon for compound fertilizer production, including Egyptian Financial and Industrial Company reportedly planning a new production line of compound fertilizers, in part to expand its exports.


Your top infrastructure stories for the week:

  • Egyptian construction firms win Libya reconstruction contracts: Egypt and Libya signed a raft of agreements last week that will see Egyptian companies play a larger role in the country’s reconstruction and strengthen Cairo’s ties with the interim government in Tripoli.
  • Global inflation is delaying renewable energy projects in Egypt: Two major Middle Eastern energy companies have recently asked to postpone renewable projects under pressure from rising input prices, an official at the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) tells Enterprise.
  • NBE, Ikarus to invest USD 150 mn in petrochemicals: Kuwaiti energy investor Ikarus Petroleum Industries will invest around USD 150 mn in the Egyptian petchem sector alongside the National Bank of Egypt.
  • French gov’t to finance urea plant: The French Agency for Development (AFD) is providing Abu Qir Fertilizers with EUR 15 mn for a new urea production plant.
  • Int’l firms bid for Dekheila port contract: The Swiss MSC, the Port of Singapore Authority and the Chinese Hutchison Port Holdings are competing for a contract develop and operate Dekheila Port’s third terminal.

CALENDAR

14-30 September (Tuesday-Thursday): 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York.

19-22 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Insurance Federation of Egypt’s Rendezvous conference, Sharm El Sheikh.

21-22 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

22 September (Wednesday): IMF + EBRD “State-owned enterprises in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia” webinar.

22-25 September (Wednesday-Saturday): Cityscape Egypt, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

29 September (Wednesday): DevOpsDays Cairo 2021 is being organized by ITIDA and the Software Engineering Competence Center in cooperation with DXC Technology, IBM Egypt and Orange Labs.

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September: Closing of 2021’s first oil and gas tender in the Gulf of Suez, Western Desert, and the Mediterranean.

30 September (Thursday): First tranche of overdue subsidy payouts will be handed to eligible exporters.

30 September (Thursday): Direct flights between Egypt and three Libyan airports resume.

October: New legislative session begins — must be held by the first Thursday of October.

October: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis could visit Egypt in mid this month to discuss ways to boost tourism cooperation between the two countries.

1 October (Friday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

1 October (Friday): Deadline for state-owned companies and government agencies to sign up to e-invoicing platform.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

9 October (Saturday): Public schools begin 2021-2022 academic year

11-17 October (Monday-Sunday): IMF + World Bank Annual Meetings.

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

24-28 October (Sunday-Thursday) Cairo Water Week, Cairo, Egypt.

27-28 October (Wednesday-Thursday) Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski, Cairo, Egypt.

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

28 October (Thursday): Second tranche of overdue subsidy payouts will be handed to eligible exporters.

30 October – 4 November (Saturday-Thursday): The first edition of Race The Legends, Egypt.

November: The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

2-3 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

16-17 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Africa fintech summit, Cairo.

26 November-5 December (Friday-Sunday): The 43rd Cairo International Film Festival.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Centre.

7-8 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Trade Finance Summit.

12-14 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Food Africa Cairo trade exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

14-19 December (Tuesday-Sunday): The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater.

14-15 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

15 December (Wednesday): Deadline for joint stock companies and investment companies in Cairo to join e-invoicing platform.

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

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

22-24 April 2022: World Bank-IMF spring meeting, Washington D.C.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt

16 June 2022 (Thursday): End of 2021-2022 academic year for public schools

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

**Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

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