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Tuesday, 25 June 2019

What we’re tracking on 25 June 2019

The Trump administration’s long-awaited Palestinian economic development workshop kicks-off today in Manama, Bahrain and will surely dominate regional headlines toady and tomorrow. Egypt, Jordan, Morocco and the Gulf states will all be attending the event, which is being held to discuss the USD 50 bn economic development plan due to be unveiled by White House advisor Jared Kushner on Saturday.

Egypt has broken its silence on the proposal, with Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry making a series of measured statements on the Trump plan during an interview in Moscow yesterday. He suggested that Egypt would “listen” and “evaluate” before taking any decisions. We have more in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly is still in Germany, where he has presided over the signing of several agreements to bring German business to Egypt. Chief among them: Mercedes-Benz and Bosch. Madbouly will attend the Arab-German Business Forum in Berlin today; the gathering runs 25-27June. We have more in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Also coming up:

  • US Fed boss Jay Powell speaks this evening (CLT) in New York in what look set to be some of his most closely-watched remarks so far this year. Is a July rate cut in the offing?
  • The G-20 summit takes place this weekend in Osaka, Japan, running 28-29 June. Among the expected highlights: Donald Trump and Xi Jinping are due to have a chat. Check the gathering’s website here.
  • Our friends at AmCham will be hosting Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker at their monthly luncheon on Tuesday, 2 July. You can register for the event here.

The Pharaohs are back in action tomorrow: Egypt will play their second Afcon group game tomorrow when they take on DR Congo at 10pm at Cairo International Stadium. The Pharaohs edged out Zimbabwe on Friday, winning 1-0 in the opening game of the tournament. They could do with scoring a few more goals, as Uganda currently top the group on goal differential. Check the standings here, or visit the Afcon website here.

Trump is running out of things to sanction: US President Donald Trump yesterday announced new sanctions that effectively block Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and eight military commanders from accessing the international financial system, the New York Times reports. The news will likely be greeted by a shrug in Tehran, given that the Iranian leadership has for years avoided international banks. The WSJ and the FT have more.

A drone attack on Abha civilian airport in southern Saudi Arabia by Yemen’s Houthi movement killed one person and wounded 21 others on Sunday, Reuters reports. Egypt’s foreign ministry condemned the attack in a statement, expressing solidarity with Saudi Arabia’s government and people.

Three from the international business press worth a quick look this morning:

  • Hassan Heikal would be proud: A group of US bn’aires is proposing a wealth tax on the ultra-rich. Facebook co-founder Chis Hughes and hedgie George Soros are among those calling for a tax on the assets of the wealthiest 0.1% of the United States. You can read their open letter here and check out the FT’s coverage here.
  • A robot may not take your job, but it could become your boss. Case in point: the AI that’s already telling customer service reps at an insurance company to talk slower, sound less sleepy and be more empathetic. (NYT)
  • Are digital banks challenging HSBC’s dominance in Hong Kong, where “eight new digital-only upstarts have been granted virtual banking licenses” by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority? The new entrants will launch over the next 6-9 months.

In miscellany this morning:

  • Sign of the times: Being transgender at Goldman Sachs, on how an employee in the bank’s “buttoned-up communications department became herself at work.” (New York Times)
  • It’s OK to feel ambivalent about your children: “Boredom and loss of identity are common emotions among parents. The problem starts when they are left unexpressed.” (Wall Street Journal)
  • The land where the internet ends: “To find real solitude, you have to go out of range. But every year that’s harder to do, as America’s off-the-grid places disappear.” Not an Egypt problem in fact, but certainly one in spirit. (New York Times)

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