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Wednesday, 3 March 2021

Are Turkey and Egypt about to put aside their differences in the EastMed?

Turkey and Egypt could negotiate an East Med maritime demarcation agreement if strained relations improve, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said at a press conference Wednesday, according to Reuters. Egypt’s oil and gas exploration bid round last month had respected Turkey’s territorial claims in the region, which is being looked on positively by Ankara, Cavusoglu said.

Relations between the two countries turned (more) frosty last year when Turkey refused to recognise an agreement between Egypt and Greece creating a joint economic zone in the Eastern Mediterranean, accusing the two countries of infringing on its continental shelf. Ankara vowed it would not allow Greece and Egypt to explore in the area, and pressed ahead with its own gas surveys and naval exercises in an effort to stake its claim to the zone. The Egypt-Greece agreement was itself a reaction to moves by Ankara, which set up a joint zone with the Tripoli-based government in Libya and launched gas exploration efforts in disputed territory.

Turkey is the subject of an Arab League meeting taking place today in Cairo: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry is presiding over a ministerial meeting to discuss Turkey’s interference in the internal affairs of Arab countries, according to a Foreign Ministry statement. Meanwhile, Assistant Foreign Minister Badr Abdel Aty sat down with his Russian counterpart Sergei Ryabkov, who expressed interest in Egypt’s plans for the EastMed Gas Forum and discussed unrest within Europe such as in the West Balkans.

Also from the Arab League: Former Egyptian foreign minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit was reappointed as the organization’s secretary-general for a second five-year term, the Associated Press reports, citing MENA. The veteran diplomat was the only nominee for the position, having been nominated by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi in January.

Meanwhile, an LNG carrier arrived at the Damietta liquefaction plant this morning, and began loading a shipment that will be the second to leave the facility since it resumed operations last month, industry sources told Youm7. The carrier will make its way to China with some 157k cbm of LNG on board. The plant was brought back to life recently, after operator Eni last year reached an agreement with the government and its former partner Naturgy.

GERD WATCH-

Over on the Red Sea side of things, Ethiopia is ready to continue GERD negotiations “in good faith” with the mediation of the African Union, the country’s foreign ministry spokesperson said at a press conference Wednesday, Al Arabiya reports. The comments came in response to a joint statement issued by Egypt and Sudan Tuesday, in which both countries reiterated their commitment to a proposal by Sudan to set up an international quartet of the AU, EU, US, and UN to mediate the dam negotiations, and called on Ethiopia to demonstrate “good will” and return to the negotiating table.

COVID WATCH-

Could Egypt be in line for covid-19 funding from the WB Group? The World Bank will deploy emergency financing to around 30 African countries to help the nations access covid-19 vaccines, including the DR Congo, Ethiopia, Niger, Mozambique, Tunisia, eSwatini, Rwanda and Senegal, the bank told Reuters. It did not disclose the amount of funding under discussion, but explained that the financing would “be on grant or highly concessional terms,” the spokesperson said.

It is unclear if Egypt is among the thirty countries. African countries will have to request the financing, several officials tell us. None seem aware if Egypt has made a bid for the financing so far.

TARIFF WATCH-

Egyptian aluminum exports to the US will continue to face tariffs of 12.11% after a review by the US Department of Commerce upheld a decision last year to impose tariffs on 18 countries accused of dumping aluminium sheets in US markets at below market prices. Egypt and other countries will also face an additional 10% tariff imposed by former president Trump under a national security law.

Egypt is imposing its own anti-dumping tariffs on Chinese and Thai truck tire imports for the next five years, according to a Trade Ministry statement. The decision came after an investigation into the practice found that Chinese companies were dumping tires at prices that were 10-37% below their market value, while Thai companies were dumping at prices 7.5%-31% below normal prices. Indian and Indonesian tire imports were also being investigated, but were ultimately not penalised due to comprising less than 3% of the Egyptian tire import market each.

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