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Tuesday, 19 June 2018

What we’re tracking on 19 June 2018

Aaaaand … we’re back: We returned from our four-day furlough to find a new cabinet, fuel prices up 50%, Abraaj filing to restructure, heightened prospects of a global trade war, and a World Cup full of surprises. It’s not at a bad way to welcome the long, hot days of summer — and our return to caffeinated mornings.

Speaking of our new cabinet: As a community, we owe a debt of gratitude to Amr El Garhy and Tarek Kabil for having stepped up and served the nation when they did. They agreed to serve at a time when the path forward for our economy was more than murky — and leave office having maneuvered us into the best position we have enjoyed in at least a generation.

Joy: It’s game day. Egypt plays Russia tonight at 8:00 pm CLT in its second outing in the group stage. National team coach Hector Cuper and the football press aren’t sure Mo Salah will take to the pitch, but the man himself promised he was ready in a short video posted to his Facebook page yesterday (watch, runtime: 1:00). We have the full details in today’s Spotlight, below.

Pain: We’re inching toward a global trade war as the Trump administration threatened yesterday to slap a 10% tariff on some USD 200 bn worth of Chinese goods, Reuters reports. The move came after China said it would impose tariffs on some USD 50 bn worth of American goods — itself a retaliation for the White House’s Friday decision to hit USD 50 bn worth of Chinese products and services with a tariff of 25%. The story is getting front-page play globally: Check out offerings from Politico, the Wall Street Journal and the Guardian.

Okay, but what does this mean? “As the conflict broadens, shipments are slowing at ports and airfreight terminals around the world. Prices for crucial raw materials are rising. At factories from Germany to Mexico, orders are being cut and investments delayed. American farmers are losing sales as trading partners hit back with duties of their own,” the New York Times writes. The story is a must-read, bringing to life IMF boss Christine Lagarde’s warning last week that a trade war isn’t going to be good for global growth, saying, “the global economic outlook is darkening by the day.”

(Western) stock markets aren’t exactly sweating it: Wall Street has (so far) largely shrugged off the prospect of a trade war, the Times’ Peter Eavis writes in a solid piece for Dealbook. But that doesn’t mean it can’t turn on a dime: Emerging Asia shares have been hit by the “biggest foreign investor exodus since 2008,” Bloomberg reports: “Overseas funds are pulling out of six major Asian emerging equity markets at a pace unseen since the global financial crisis of 2008 — withdrawing $19 billion from India, Indonesia, the Philippines, South Korea, Taiwan and Thailand so far this year.”

Back on our continent: Ethiopia is looking really interesting right now. The UAE is extending a USD 3 bn lifeline to Addis Ababa in the form of aid and investment, Reuters reports, drawing a direct line from a meeting between new Ethiopian PM Abiy Ahmed and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed to the aid package and Abiy’s pledge to end his country’s dispute with Egypt over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam. The news comes as Addis, Cairo and Khartoum are reportedly in talks to set a date for the next round of GERD talks, an unnamed Sudanese diplomat in Khartoum tells Al Shorouk.

An opportunity for Telecom Egypt? Ethiopian business reporter Aaron Maasho took to Twitter to note that, “Ethiopia will offer a 30-40% stake in state-run telecoms monopoly Ethio Telecom to ‘large corporations,’ will split firm in two to spur competition, PM Abiy Ahmed told parliament. Shares will not be available for a year or two until an ‘intensive study’ is undertaken.”

Here at home: Madbouly to unveil his cabinet’s plan of action this coming Saturday. Look for health and education to be high on the agenda when Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly appears before the House on Saturday to present his government’s policy priorities, Rep. Hisham Omara tells Al Shorouk. We may get a sneak peek today when the ministers of health and higher education are set to unveil a new joint development plan at a press conference, according to Ahram Gate.

The second round of elections start today at 13 official trade unions, Al Mal reports. The final results will be announced tomorrow evening. The first round of elections kicked off last month, marking the first trade union elections in 12 years. The voting comes six months after the contentious Labor Unions Act — which has been widely criticized by international organizations — made its way through Parliament.

In miscellany today:

  • Should you be freaked out that global investment banks have got their “mojo” back? The FT wonders whether “being back to pre-crisis levels of profit signals a cyclical top.”
  • For media nerds: Norm Pearlstine, the former editor-in-chief of Time Inc and former leader of the WSJ and Bloomberg, has agreed to take over as EiC of the Los Angeles Times. (NYT)
  • For space nerds: The Donald has ordered the creation of a space-focused branch of the US military. The Space Force will be on par with the US Air Force and become the sixth branch of the US armed forces. (Reuters)

Struggling with how to be a better parent to your teen? We can think of no better place to start than Sue Shellenbarger’s piece for the Wall Street Journal from a couple of years back, which we stumbled upon this weekend. It the teen years down into two-year chunks starting with ages 11-12. Read “What teens need most from their parents.”

Enterprise is off this Thursday. We’ll be taking a one-day break from publishing on Thursday to allow our English and Arabic editorial teams from both the night and day shifts to spend some quality time together and talk about what’s next for Enterprise.

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