What we’re tracking on 6 December 2020
Good morning, nice people, and welcome to another workweek. We have a packed issue this morning, so let’s get right to it.
It remains all covid, all the time on the world’s front pages as covid sweeps the United States and Europe and Pfizer says it is cutting by 50% its distribution target for its vaccine through the end of this year thanks to logistics challenges.
The scarce supply of vaccines is making the race to vaccinate populations a worldwide competition: Governments around the world are scrambling to secure shots as the number of doses available from Western pharma companies remains limited, likely leading to what the Wall Street Journal calls a “fragmentary vaccination drive likely to proceed at vastly different speeds,” leaving most of the world’s population without access to a jab for months to come.
The Health Ministry reported 431 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 427 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 118,014 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 18 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 6,750.
(While we’re on the subject of covid: Yes, you’re going to need to be vaccinated if you want to travel. And before we switch subjects: This is how 700 epidemiologists are living now and what they think is next. Clearly, ain’t none of them living in Omm El Donia.)
The EU has agreed to return to the negotiating table one last time to hammer out a Brexit agreement with the UK, the Financial Times reports. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson are set to talk again tomorrow evening in an “eleventh hour push” to reach a pact both sides are happy with.
The UK has had better luck with Egypt, as the two countries signed yesterday a post-Brexit trade agreement, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. The trade continuity agreement, which comes into effect on 1 January 2021, will liberalize trade on industrial products, as well as the majority of commodities and food items including produce and fish, the statement says.
REGIONALLY- Saudi Arabia and Qatar are signaling they may be willing to throw in the towel on the Great Qatar Smackdown. We’d still be kind of surprised to see this happen before Joe Biden occupies the White House, but the story is getting plenty of traction in the global business press (Reuters | Bloomberg).
WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY- President Abdel Fattah El Sisi is in France for a two-day diplomatic visit that will include talks with French president Emmanuel Macron, according to Macron’s agenda.
CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
The Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund is hosting a webinar on the future of Egypt’s private sector at 11am EST (6pm CLT) on Tuesday, 8 December. Speakers include our friends Ashraf Sabry (Fawry) and Magda Habib (Dawi Clinics). You can register for the event here and check out the flyer here (pdf).
Voters in Cairo head to the polls tomorrow to vote in runoffs for the House of Representatives. Polls will be open in 11 other governorates from Qalyubia to Sinai.
Also Tuesday: Apple may still have “one more thing” for you to add to your Christmas wish list, MacRumors suggests. Maybe new earphones?
Other key dates for your diary this month:
- Foreign reserves figures for November should be out this week.
- Inflation data for November will be released on Thursday, 10 December.
- The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet on 24 December to review interest rates.
Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.
MUST READ FOR CEOS & IROs- Companies are changing their tone and vocabulary in earnings calls to outsmart hedge fund algorithms that are increasingly listening in, says the Financial Times’ Robin Wigglesworth, who once covered MENA for the salmon-colored paper out of Dubai. While business leaders are increasingly aware of AI’s ability to pick up on their verbal cues and are seeking training on how best to frame their reports, pundits say it’s “ultimately futile” to engage in these “linguistic acrobatics” in an attempt to outsmart the algorithms.
Eldib & Co has become the first Egypt-based law firm of which we’re aware to open an office in China, announcing its new Shanghai outpost in a press release on Thursday.
From the Dept of Good News: Egypt’s poverty rate decreased for the first time in 20 years in FY2019-2020. We have the rundown below.
Don’t [redact] off the photographer when she next shows up to shoot your corporate portrait. Just ask retail boss Philip Green (whose empire is now on the rocks thanks to covid) how much he likes this shot.
Want to beef up your TBR pile ahead of the holiday season? There are a handful of end-of-year roundups of the best books 2020 had to offer, whether you’re looking to get some reading done before the year is out or if you’re looking for present ideas for the holiday season. This beautifully illustrated NYT rundown of the best books of the year suggests the gift of reading is the way to go. The reading recommendations span thrillers, music, cooking, historical fiction, sports, photography, Hollywood and the ambiguous-sounding otherworldly. The Financial Times also has its customary roundup of the best books here, while NPR’s Maureen Corrigan lists the 10 books that got her through the year. Oprah Magazine’s end-of-year list bears some resemblance to Corrigan’s similar taste, with several titles appearing on both.