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Wednesday, 28 February 2018

What we’re tracking on 28 February 2018

You can now file your tax returns online via this Tax Authority website, the Finance Ministry announced in a statement on Tuesday. Finance Minister Amr El Garhy noted that filing tax returns online is optional “for now,” which hints at the possibility that this might become mandatory, making us rather happy campers this morning.

The Ismail cabinet has approved amendments to the Income Tax Act that would allow individuals and companies to submit supplemental documentation for their tax returns two months after the filing deadline. Late filers will also get a break under the proposed changes, which still require sign off from the House of Representatives.

Don’t be a late filer: The deadline for individuals to file returns covering income outside of their primary place of employment is 31 March. The deadline for companies is 30 April.

It’s looking more and more like the US might impose heavy tariffs on steel imports from Egypt and 11 other countries. President Donald Trump said on Monday that “he wants to bring the steel industry back to America even if it means applying tariffs to imports from other countries,” according to Reuters. The US Commerce Department had nodded to the move last week, recommending the US set a levy of at least 53% on steel imports from 12 countries, among them Egypt, China, Brazil, Vietnam, Russia, South Korea, South Africa, Turkey, and Thailand, while imposing a quota on other countries to limit their tariff-free access to a volume equal to their 2017 exports.

EU trade ministers threatened to “respond with countermeasures” if the White House moves ahead with the tariffs, saying that they are “incompatible with World Trade Organization rules and unjustifiable on national security grounds,” the newswire says.

Sound smart: Consensus in the Egyptian business community appears to be that so little of our steel is exported to the US that there’s unlikely to be a direct impact here. What’s more, Egypt has already imposed anti-dumping duties on countries that would otherwise look to dump surplus production here in the event the US goes ahead with the Trump tariffs.

Powell hints that US Fed rate increases could come faster: New US Federal Reserve Chairman Jaw Powell “gave a markedly bullish assessment of the US economic outlook” yesterday as he addressed Congress for the first time since taking the top job at the US central bank. That prompted speculation that he could push for a quicker pace of rate increases as the economy grows. The Financial Times and CNBC have coverage. Powell also said the Fed will be vigilant about risks to financial stability and explained he didn’t think ETFs played an outsized role in the recent market correction.

If JPMorgan’s Jamie Dimon thinks how shareholder meetings are a “complete waste of time,” he’s never been to one in our neck of the woods. Master James is reportedly upset that retail investors ask him difficult questions about topics he’d rather not discuss, though the bit about (political) activist shareholders is something with which we suppose we could sympathize (the meetings, he said, have often been “hijacked by people who have only political interests and don’t have any interest in the future health of the company.”) At least he’s not dealing with people who steal the silverware, pack their purses with croissants and sandwiches, bring their kids to the outing, and try to physically shake-down CEOs for cab fare and other ‘donations’ to make up for lagging share prices… The Financial Times has a rundown on Dimon’s complaints, which it notes “are likely to stir debate over gathering usefulness of shareholder meetings, which tend to be the only opportunity for retail investors to connect with top managers.”

Goldman Sachs is taking a leaf out of the Egyptian financial industry’s playbook: “Goldman Sachs, advisor to the elite, wants to be your local bank,” the Wall Street Journal reports, noting that “under its Marcus brand, the Wall Street powerhouse is planning to sell insurance, mortgages and car loans, consumer businesses it once disdained.” Sound familiar to anyone here at home who witnessed a certain big, green investment bank push into leasing and microfinance — and prompt an industry scramble to do the same?

Russia could be dethroned as the world’s biggest oil producer, overtaken by the US as the end of this year, Reuters reports, citing figures from the International Energy Agency. The IEA sees grow in the shale industry allowing the US to overtake Russia by the end of 2019 at the latest. “U.S. oil is also increasingly being exported, including to the world’s biggest and fastest growing markets in Asia, eating away at OPEC and Russian market share,” the newswire notes.

Saudi’s shakeup of its military and security leadership is getting wide international coverage. Ben Hubbard’s piece for the New York Times is typical, noting that the changes elevate “younger officials at a time of increased military engagement abroad and sharp economic and social change at home.”

PSA- Ramses Street near the Downtown area will be partially closed off on Thursday and Friday nights from midnight until 06:00 as crews dig up cables to repair faults, according to Al Shorouk.

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