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Sunday, 3 January 2021

What we’re tracking on 3 January 2021

Good morning, wonderful people. It’s officially no longer 2020.

Since we last wrote to you, the UK’s tumultuous breakup with the EU after a 48-year union finally came to a close. After months of delays and highwire negotiations, the two sides managed to scrape together a last-minute trade pact, preventing a disorderly British exit. In what Reuters is calling the “most significant geopolitical shift since the loss of empire,” the UK has finally left more than 4.5 years after voting to do so, leaving the country divided.

With the completion of Brexit, Egypt’s new trade agreement with the UK came into effect. President Abdel Fattah El Sisi ratified last month the agreement, which UK Trade Envoy to Egypt Sir Jeffery Donaldson said previously could unlock a spate of fresh British investments in Egypt.

Here at home, the Finance Ministry launched the pilot phase of its unified tax platform on Friday. 11k of the country’s largest taxpayers must now file returns and pay taxes through the platform, which will also allow businesses to register for tax, settle unpaid taxes, and make enquiries to the Tax Authority. The move to an electronic platform will help the state ensure better oversight and put an end to tax evasion, the ministry said this weekend.

Abroad, all of that worry about a stock market bubble? New Year’s bubbly didn’t make it go away, Bloomberg reports. Look for this to be a recurring theme in the first months of the year, as we suggested in our 2020 in Review features last week.

DID YOU MISS OUR 2020 IN REVIEW ISSUES? Have a look at:

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

As of today, you will be subject to a EGP 50 fine on the spot if you’re caught in violation of a covid restriction, including not wearing a mask in a public venue such as the bank or on public transport.

New year, new GERD talks… Egypt, Sudan, and Ethiopia will be meeting with the African Union today to reopen discussions about the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam after Sudan walked away from the last round of talks in November and called on more involvement from the AU in the negotiation process, according to Youm7.

…but with last year’s tensions? The Foreign Ministry summoned Ethiopia’s envoy to Cairo on Wednesday over comments made by the spokesman of the Ethiopian foreign ministry. While it wasn’t specified what comments they were referring to, Reuters writes it might be Dina Mufti, the Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesperson, saying that Cairo is criticizing the dam to cover several internal problems.

CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-

It’s a new a month — and you know what that means:

  • PMI: Purchasing managers’ index figures for December will land this coming Tuesday at 6:15 CLT.
  • Foreign reserves: Foreign reserves data for last month should also be out later this week.
  • Inflation: Inflation figures for December are due out on Sunday, 10 January.

US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is reportedly set to visit Egypt sometime this week as part of a brief regional tour that will be his last overseas trip as a White House official. We haven’t heard any details since last month, when Bloomberg reported Mnuchin will also make stops in Sudan, the UAE, Israel, and Qatar.

The expo for the government’s multi-year natural gas transition plan — the Go Green Exhibition — will start tomorrow and run until Wednesday at the National Exhibition Center on the Mosheer El Tantawy Road. The details of the government’s campaign to convert existing vehicles to natural gas engines will be announced at the expo, with plans to cover 70k cars that have been on the road for over 20 years in 2021— including 55k taxis and passenger cars and 15k microbuses. You can read more about the initiative here.

PSA #1- You now have a little more breathing room on the following deadlines:

  • Vehicle owners need to get their cars fitted with RFID stickers by 31 March, after the deadline was pushed for three months from the original 31 December 2020 date.
  • Property owners in violation of the building code also have until the end of March to settle with the government, which has granted the fifth extension since originally setting an end-of-August deadline.

PSA #2- It’s a short workweek as we head into a holiday weekend in observance of Coptic Christmas. A very Merry Christmas to everyone who will be celebrating on Thursday.

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