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Sunday, 6 June 2021

TONIGHT: More info about the Unified Tax Act + Are sovereign sukuk coming our way? ALSO: it’s inflation week, and a French delegation of 18 companies is arriving tomorrow.

It’s the unofficial fiscal policy issue this afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, as a number of key Finance Ministry-drafted taxation and debt legislations see the light of day.

THE BIG STORY TODAY- The Finance Ministry issued the executive regulations of the Unified Tax Act, including guidelines on how the new tax platform will operate, and how you will be filing your state dues from now on. We have details in Speed Round below.

HAPPENING NOW- Are we soon getting our first sovereign sukuk issuances? The House of Representatives has given its initial sign off to the long-awaited Sovereign Sukuk Act in a plenary session today. This would pave the way for the government to begin issuing sovereign sukuk once the legislation makes it through. We have more details in the news well below.

We’re expecting inflation figures to be released by CAPMAS this week, and won’t be surprised to see an uptick in the month’s reading as global commodity prices continue spiking. Analysts have increasingly been penciling in heightened inflation “soon” as a result of the year-long commodities rally. Annual urban headline inflation unexpectedly slowed to 4.1% in April, after having risen to 4.8% in March and 4.5% in February.

We’re already feeling the boom in some sectors: State-owned Egyptalum was the latest to hike its prices by some EGP 2k this month, with its sales head and spokesperson, Ehab Al Elwany, citing a USD 150 per-tonne increase in global aluminum futures over the past two months — due to heavy purchasing by China — as the reason behind the decision, Al Mal reports. Wholesale aluminum sold at home now ranges between EGP 49-57k a tonne, up from EGP 47-55.5k in May, as the commodities boom hits everything from food to energy to key metals.

How will US inflation play into ours? We dive deeper into this in today’s Macro Picture.

** CATCH UP QUICK on the top stories from today’s EnterpriseAM:

  • Goldman says CBE could cut rates this month + reserves were up in May: The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) can afford to cut rates by as much as 50 bps at its meeting later this month without hurting its carry trade, Goldman Sachs said. Meanwhile, foreign currency reserves increased by almost USD 125 mn in May.
  • Goodbye, Brits. Hello, Russians: Egypt will be on the UK’s red list of countries as of 8 June due to concerns over new virus variants, while Russian airline Aeroflot says (for the umpteenth time) that flights from Russia will resume soon.
  • US to donate vaccines to Egypt: Egypt and 13 other “regional priority” countries will receive some 6 mn doses of covid-19 vaccines from the US, as part of a first batch of 25 mn doses, out of a total 80 mn doses the US plans to share with the world by the end of June.

Hani Sonbol, CEO of the International Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (IITFC), is in Cairo today for a five-day visit, according to a statement (pdf). He will attend the opening of new projects and initiatives carried out in cooperation with the Egyptian government. These include the “SheTrades” initiative that provides support for female entrepreneurs.

THE BIG STORY ABROAD- China’s tech crackdown is topping coverage on the global business press today. Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies dropped over the past day amid fears of additional clampdown by China on crypto after some of the industry’s influencer accounts were blocked on Chinese social media site Weibo, Bloomberg reports. A recent survey by Goldman Sachs Group says that institutional interest in crypto may have taken damage as a result of these repeated crackdowns. The price of BTC dropped so far by over USD 25k to trade around USD 36k from the USD 65k price level recorded at the beginning of this year. “The key level for the bulls to hold is USD 33.4k as it keeps the pattern of higher lows intact," said Jonathan Cheesman, head of over-the-counter and institutional sales at crypto derivatives exchange FTX.


A delegation of 18 French companies is in Cairo tomorrow to meet with international financial institutions and Egyptian private partners during a three-day event organized by Business France, according to a press release (pdf). This is the first business delegation from France since February 2020, and the sectors up for potential cooperation include renewable energy, mobility, health, water and sanitation, food security, education, and digitalization. Among the French companies sending representatives are Alstom, Beaudrey, RATP Dev, STEAM France, Veolia, and Suez.

Meanwhile the British Egyptian Business Association will hold a virtual conversation with Oil Minister Tarek El Molla tomorrow at 1pm to discuss the sector’s achievements. You can register through this link.

We’re looking forward to the second-most-holy holiday on the iSheep calendar tomorrow — that’s when the faithful will stream Apple’s WWDC keynote. We’ll get a look at what’s next for macOS, iOS and iPadOS, sure — but more than a few of us will be praying for hardware announcements, too. You can catch AppleInsider’s and Gizmodo’s prognostications or just circle your calendar for 7pm CLT on Monday and stream the keynote here.


Entrepreneurs in the tourism sector have until 20 June to apply for the six-month Tourism Recovery Program launched by enpact and the TUI Care Foundation and supported by GIZ, according to a press release (pdf). Under the program, 100 tourism startups will be chosen to receive dedicated mentoring, training, and direct financial support of up to EUR 9k per business. The program aims to build leadership, resilience, sustainability, innovation, and digital transformation within tourism SMEs while also creating an international network of tourism business to expand cooperation between Egypt, Germany, and all of Europe. You can apply for the program using this link.


KUDOS- Two Egyptians took home gold medals in the FIG World Challenge Cup in Artistic Gymnastics that was held last weekend in Cairo. Egyptian gymnasts Nancy Tamman and Ali Zahran each snagged first place for the women’s and men’s competitions, according to Kingfut. This was the first time the championship was hosted in Africa and more than 300 players from 16 countries competed in the event. Tamman has previously taken home the trophy for the Mediterranean Games and got first place in Africa twice in a row, while Zahran had previously snagged three world championships.


David Attenborough strikes again, teaming up with scientist Johan Rockström to create Breaking Boundaries: The Science Of Our Planet. The full length documentary explores how humans have managed to eliminate a [redacted] ton of Earth’s biodiversity, reaching a hazardous point where humanity has managed to push our home planet beyond the boundaries of stability. Painting a picture of what the future of our species and the fate of the planet could look like, the doc outlines nine planetary thresholds that if exceeded could make life on Earth unsustainable, and explains how close we are to each one. The New York Times and Roger Ebert think the content is essential to hear, but were dissuaded by one too many ambitious green screen ventures.


Downtown Cairo’s Cafe Riche offers a side of history: The cafe was used as an assembly point for writers, artists, and intellectuals such as Naguib Mahfouz and Taha Hussein. The cafe was acquired by Al Ismaelia in 2008 and sensitively restored to become one of the most vibrant night spots in the area, all while preserving the original feel and aura of the place. Cafe Riche is a great place to get breakfast or pass by for a drink with friends towards the evening.


Comedy Monsters are taking the stage at The Room Art Space in New Cairo tonight at 9pm.

A conference on Arab philosophy is taking place today at 6pm at the French Institute in Cairo. The talks will be given in French, with immediate Arabic translation.

Walking tour experience Qahrawya is providing a Downtown Cairo tour on Wednesday, taking participants through downtown, Garden City and Mounira for lunch, shopping, and sightseeing.


How to build a flexible organization that can adapt and flourish during times of uncertainty: Change, written by John P. Kotter, Vanessa Akhtar, and Gaurav Gupta, looks at how business leaders and policy makers can create non-linear change that is sustainable and adaptable in the current volatile climate. The book teaches how organizations should face threats and turn them into new ventures, how to manage resistance to change within old institutions, and how to improve outcomes in strategy execution, digital transformation, restructuring, and more. The book uses case studies and success stories to make their arguments and inspire the next generation of society leaders.

☀️ TOMORROW’S WEATHER- The mercury will reach 36°C tomorrow during the day, falling to 19°C at night, according to our favorite weather app. This week will stay in the late 30s range, hitting a high of 40°C on Wednesday.

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