What we’re tracking on 16 February 2020
Story of the Day #1- El Corona has officially landed in Egypt. We got a Valentine’s Day present in the form of the first identified case of coronavirus. Unconfirmed reports suggest the patient is a Chinese national who landed at Cairo International Airport and is now in quarantine. We have the full story in this morning’s Speed Round, below.
The global travel and luxury markets are being hammered as travelers stay home in fear of the virus, which is now officially called covid-19, and pundits are suggesting it could have a longer-term effect on the global economy.
The conference industry is taking it on the chin. Mobile World Congress, the world’s largest mobile industry gathering originally scheduled for Barcelona, was canceled last week. CP+, the high-profile photography industry gathering in Yokohama, has just followed suit.
Story of the Day #2- Analysts are split on whether you can expect a rate cut when the CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee meets this Thursday. Half of the economists surveyed in our interest rate poll (which you’ll find in this morning’s Speed Round, below) think the central bank will hold off on further cuts until later in the year, while the other half say the MPC could resume its easing cycle this week.
The House Planning and Budgeting Committee will finally begin discussing the unified tax law this week, according to the local press. The bill, which received cabinet approval back in October, would create a single platform for filing income tax, stamp tax and VAT returns.
(Don’t confuse that bill with the long-promised rewrite of the tax code, which would (among other things) close loopholes for foreign companies operating in Egypt and on which Finance Ministry Mohamed Maait has promised public consultations sometime this winter.)
Auto incentives package heading to the House this week? The Trade Ministry is putting the final touches on the government’s auto incentives package and will ship it off to the House of Representatives for review this week, Minister Nevine Gamea said, according to Al Mal. The House Industrial Committee is expected to begin its discussion of the bill at the end of February, the local press reports. The reproted “strategy” would be “quite different” from what was presented by previous ministers, Gamea added, noting that the plan would devote an entire pillar to develop the electric vehicle market as the government moves to cut down on the use of gasoline and diesel fuel.
From what we know so far, the bill to get the strategy up and running would give incentives to local assemblers to use more domestic components through customs breaks at a rate dependent on the percentage used. There is also some support within feeder industries and a clearer strategy for attracting FDI in the sector, head of the Industrial Development Authority’s domestic manufacturing department Alaa Salaheldin said in December. Salaheldin noted at the time that the framework would draw from previous iterations of the program, by which we had assumed he meant the scrapped automotive directive. You can read our primer here.
The Minority Report wasn’t meant as an instruction manual: China’s biggest military technology company is setting up a national lab to create pre-crime-esque technologies that can predict where crimes might happen and intuit a person’s emotions, according to the Financial Times.
Egypt’s answer to Mother Teresa has been nominated for the 2020 Nobel Prize: Magda Gobran, aka Mama Maggie, has been nominated by several national and international institutions, including Canada’s Parliament, for her humanitarian work with underprivileged children, according to a statement by the Emigration Ministry.
IN MEMORIAM- The business community lost another member late last week when Crave co-founder Hazem El Dalati suddenly passed away. Hazem and his brother Fahed helped transform Egypt’s dining scene with the international fusion restaurant, which they set up through their Tourism Investment Company (TICO) back in 2004. The company operates Crave restaurants, a catering business, and a hospitality management arm.