THIS MORNING: El Araby founder Mahmoud El Araby dies, aged 89; Ever Given 2.0 averted; Another busy week of conferences.
Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome to an incredibly busy news day. It’s a fitting way to begin a week that will include the central bank’s review on Thursday of interest rates — and that could see a big announcement on the manufacturing in Egypt of Moderna’s mRNA jab against covid-19.
Also happening this week: new iPhones, EFG Hermes’ latest virtual investor conference, and a potential visit to Cairo by Israel’s PM. We have all of this and more below.
MEANWHILE- Income tax and VAT offices will begin to be merged nationwide this month as the government begins to streamline its physical outposts alongside the rollout of the new digital tax system, the Finance Ministry said in a statement. Fourteen tax offices in Greater Cairo will be merged into 10 in a first phase, said Egyptian Tax Authority head Reda Abdelkader, urging taxpayers to check the authority’s Facebook page for updates.
This month companies in a limited number of tax jurisdictions in Cairo will be able to pay income tax and VAT via the digital tax portal ahead of a nationwide rollout by the end of the current fiscal year next June.
Ever Given 2.0 averted: Panamanian bulk carrier Coral Crystal was briefly grounded in the Suez Canal on Thursday, but was quickly refloated using the canal’s tugboats, Suez Canal Authority (SCA) head Osama Rabie said in a statement. Traffic in the canal was uninterrupted, and the Coral Crystal was redirected to the El-Ballah bypass, where it resumed its journey. The SCA has said it will expand the southern section of the canal after the Ever Given became lodged for a week earlier this year.
Your commute is probably going to suck — schools are back in session. International schools regulated by the Education Ministry are set to start the 2021-2022 academic year today.
Sahara Expo: The four-day agricultural conference, the Sahara Expo, starts today at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.
EFG Hermes’ fourth Virtual Investor Conference kicks off tomorrow and runs through to 21 September with the theme of “After Reflation — FEMs in 2022.”
Environment minister at AmCham: Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad will give a speech on strategies for generating green, private sector-led growth at AmCham’s virtual monthly event tomorrow. Register here.
iSheep rejoice: Apple is holding a virtual event on Tuesday where we can expect a new iPhone, new AirPods and probably a new watch. Apple has scheduled the event for 7pm CLT and shows it running for two hours. You can stream it here.
Also on Tuesday: Canon is expected to announce its EOS R3, a hotly anticipated “pro” body aimed primarily at sports and wildlife photographers.
Interest rates: The Central Bank of Egypt will meet to review interest rates on Thursday, 16 September.
Israeli PM to visit Cairo this week? Axios’ Barak Ravid reports that Naftali Bennett will make an official diplomatic visit to Egypt for talks with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, which would be the first official visit to Egypt by an Israeli leader in more than a decade, and a first for El Sisi. The last Egyptian president to host an Israeli prime minister was Hosni Mubarak, who met Benjamin Netanyahu in January 2011.
The rumored visit comes amid reports that Egypt is preparing a new roadmap to restart Israel-Palestine peace talks, while cordial bilateral relations have recently been on public display. The Egyptian president in August extended the invitation to Bennett to visit, before earlier this week calling Israeli President Isaac Herzog to wish him a happy Rosh Hashanah.
The UN General Assembly kicks off later this week, opening on Tuesday 14 September and running through to 30 September.
The UN chief has a dire warning ahead of this year’s meetings: UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged world leaders to choose “the breakthrough scenario” to avert a future of back-to-back global catastrophes. In a special report presented to the UN General Assembly on Friday, Guterres warned that the world is facing a “pivotal moment” and called for a radical rethink to address the “enormous stress” facing societies across the world from the pandemic, rampant wealth inequality, and the destruction of the environment.
THE BIG STORIES ABROAD-
There are two competing narratives on where the global economy is heading. Bloomberg sounds an optimistic note, writing that “global companies from noodle makers to semiconductor giants are spending on new plants and machinery in ways they haven’t done for years,” signaling optimism about pent-up demand despite looming economic and supply-side challenges. The Financial Times takes the opposite tack, writing that the mood is “darkening” in the United States as the delta variant of covid-19 “upends forecasts” and changes “expectations of a quick economic recovery.”
ALSO BIG- The 20-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks on the United States was yesterday. The FT notes that US “leaders lament [a] lost sense of unity” on the anniversary, while the WSJ looks at memorial ceremonies yesterday as well as “why there hasn’t been another 9/11.” The anniversary dominates the front page of the New York Times, which also has a strong gallery of photography from the day.
***IN CASE YOU MISSED IT-
- Banque Misr is backing out of selling its 15% stake in Fawry Plus to Fawry, as it sees value in its stake in the company, sources from the bank told Enterprise. The move comes a few days after Fawry announced in a bourse filing that it will buy Banque Misr’s 15% stake and CIB’s 15% stake in Fawy Plus at EGP 1.15 per share, for a total of EGP 16.2 mn per acquisition.
- Overdue subsidies to be paid out this and next month: Exporters who are eligible for overdue subsidy payments under the latest incarnation of the subsidy program that launched in July will receive payouts on 30 September and on 28 October, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said in a statement.
- Record high natgas prices are threatening the global recovery, with an uptick in prices of sugar, ceramics, steel and almost everything in between leaving European countries increasingly unable to refill depleted storage supplies, and leaving end consumers with a higher bill to foot.
OBITUARY- Veteran businessman Mahmoud El Araby died on Thursday at age 89, El Araby Group announced. Since founding El Araby Industrial Group in 1964, El Araby had been a fixture in the Egyptian business community for decades, growing his company to become one of the largest in the country and becoming the chair of the Federation of the Chambers of Commerce. Thousands of people attended his funeral on Friday, which was held at his village Abu Raqaba in Menoufia. El Araby is best known for its long association with Toshiba and controls a portfolio of consumer brands that also includes Sharp, Tornado, Sony and Dynabook.