THIS MORNING: IMF gives final sign-off on USD 1.6 bn loan tranche; no ATM, transfer fees for the rest of 2021; three-way GERD talks start today; Windows 11 announced today.
Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to a super-busy news day to end this last full week of June. We’ve got tons of stuff for you today, so let’s get this show on the road:
Egypt has officially unlocked the third and final tranche of our USD 5.2 bn standby loan from the IMF after the fund’s executive board finished its second and final review of progress the country has made on measures to unlock the 12-month program, the IMF said in a statement.
A week to wait? An exact date for the disbursal of the USD 1.6 bn tranche — approval on which came after Egypt reached last month a staff-level agreement with the Fund — remains unclear, but Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said yesterday that Egypt would not wait longer than a week to receive it, according to Al Masry Al Youm.
PSA #1- We won’t have to pay fees on inter-bank EGP transfers, ATM withdrawals or POS transaction fees for another six months, after President Abdel Fattah El Sisi instructed the central bank to extend the exemption period to the end of the year, the CBE said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. Transaction fees for contactless payment cards, mobile wallets and e-payments will also remain suspended until 31 December while the central bank will continue to cover the cost of withdrawal fees for pensioners.
The measures were introduced during the first wave of the pandemic in March last year, and were put in place to cut footfall at banks and financial institutions, promote social distancing, and gradually move Egypt toward becoming a cashless society.
PSA #2- We have a long weekend next week, with the country taking 1 July off as a national holiday in observance of the 30 June revolution.
***CATCH UP QUICK with the top stories from yesterday’s edition of EnterprisePM:
- Nafeza customs system registration deadline delayed until October: Importers, multinationals, and foreign companies selling goods to Egypt through seaports now have until the last day of September to sign up for the Customs Authority’s new one-stop platform, Nafeza.
- The Ever Given’s owners may have struck an agreement with the SCA. Lawyers representing the Ever Given’s owner and ins. Company reportedly reached an agreement in principle with the Suez Canal Authority (SCA) over compensation claims for the six-day blockage of the canal in March. The value of the agreement was not disclosed.
- Egypt is still Africa’s FDI darling: Egypt was the top recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI) in Africa in 2020, attracting USD 5.9 bn in inflows during the year, according to UNCTAD’s 2021 World Investment Report.
Irrigation ministers from Egypt, Ethiopia and Sudan will discuss the GERD today and tomorrow in a meeting held by the African Union in the Democratic Republic of Congo, representative of the Arab League to the United Nations Maged Abd El Fattah told Al Shorouk. This is the first time senior officials from the three countries have met to discuss the dispute since the beginning of April, when talks to decide who should mediate the negotiations collapsed without agreement.
This could be one of the last chances for three-way talks before the rainy season is upon us: Ethiopia, which is determined to push ahead with filling the dam with or without an agreement, plans to resume doing so next month when the rainy season hits, giving the three sides little time to find a compromise.
Egypt and Sudan are trying to apply as much international pressure on Addis Ababa as possible to stop them going through with it: The two countries are expected to submit a draft resolution to the UN Security Council in the coming days in a bid to pressure world powers to discuss the dispute, and have convinced the Arab League to back their efforts.
MEANWHILE- An Egyptian trade delegation will conclude today the fourth round of discussions on a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement. For the past three days, coordination meetings were held in Moscow with the Eurasian Economic Commission (EEC) over the FTA, which would, if struck, significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to Eurasian countries, the Trade Ministry said in a statement yesterday. Egypt has been in talks with the EEC over a possible trade pact since 2016.
Sound smart: The Eurasian Economic Union is a Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. It’s market of about 180 mn people.
It’s day three of the CIB PSA World Tour Finals 2020-2021 at Mall of Arabia, and it feels like a very Franco-Egyptian kind of face-off. Up today: Women’s world no.2 Hania El Hammamy faces fourth-seeded Amanda Sobhy, while Salma Hany is up against France’s Camille Serme. In the men’s draw, no.2 Tarek Momen plays France’s Gregoire Marche while the Shorbagy brothers face off against each other. The tournament runs until 27 June. Tickets are currently on sale for the final two days on TicketsMarche.
Rejoice, Microsoft nerds: Windows 11 is going to be unveiled today. The company says it’s going to be the biggest update to its platform in a decade. The live stream will run at 5pm CLT and you can watch it here.
The Bank of England is expected to maintain record-low interest rates and continue its asset purchase program during its monetary policy meeting today, CNBC reports. This comes despite warnings from chief economist Andy Haldane of the looming “tiger of inflation,” with Haldane calling for a GBP 50 bn cut to the bank’s GBP 895 bn quantitative easing program. UK consumer price inflation rose faster than expected to 2.1% in May, beating the bank’s 2% target for the first time in almost two years, and is expected to hit 2.5% by the end of 2021. The main policy rate meanwhile is at a historic low of 0.1%, prompting speculation that tightening could follow next year.
Mo Salah to miss the Tokyo 2020 Olympics? Liverpool have told the Egyptian Football Association that they do not want any of their players to take part in this year’s Olympics, which will run from 22 July to 7 August — a week before the start of the Premier League season on 14 August, EFA chief Ahmed Megahed told ONTime Sports (watch, runtime: 11:56). “I do not want to say that it is impossible for Salah to participate in the Olympics, but it is difficult,” he said. Fifa has long acknowledged that clubs are not obliged to release over-age players for the Olympics Games.
Salah isn’t the only pro skipping the games: Tennis great Rafael Nadal has said he’s giving them a pass and it seems Serena Williams may do the same. A raft of golfers from world no.2 player Dustin Johnson to Australia’s Adam Scott have also said they’re giving Tokyo a pass.
CIRCLE YOUR CALENDAR-
We’re probably not going to have our usual end-of-June flurry of legislative activity next week: The current legislative session is expected to wrap up in the middle of July, instead of at the end of the fiscal year next week as is customary, a member of the House Legislative Committee told Al Shorouk this week.
Egypt Ventures + the International Cooperation Ministry’s Generation Next Forum will take place this Saturday, bringing together 400 entrepreneurs, innovators, and startups, according to a statement. The event will cover the role of international financial institutions in supporting tech startups, partnerships to facilitate access to finance, as well as startups’ role in achieving the sustainable development goals.
The Clean Energy Business Council (CEBC) MENA are holding a webinar titled Energy Efficiency in the MENA region: Status and Outlook on 6 July at 3:30pm. The session will focus on energy efficiency developments and provide recommendations for businesses and policymakers. Later on next month, CEBC will also host the webinar Women Entrepreneurs in Clean Energy on 21 July at 3pm in cooperation with the initiative, Women in Clean Energy MENA and WiRE.
The British Egyptian Business Association (BEBA) is organizing a virtual education week from 5-6 July with three seminars planned. The first, taking place at 10am on 5 July, will discuss skills-based learning while the future of investment in education will be the topic on the table at 12:30pm the same day. On 6 July, a talk on the digitalization of education in Egypt will be held at 12pm.
Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.