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Monday, 29 August 2022

THIS MORNING: Enterprise Climate just went live; Abdalla, Madouly talk import restrictions and the Qataris might be interested in Alex Containers + Eastern Company

Good morning, nice people.

IT’S A BIG DAY FOR… all of us here at Enterprise. Our first issue of Enterprise Climate went live a couple of hours ago. Readers of Enterprise Egypt will be getting copies for the coming week or two — and you can find us online at We’d love to know what you think — reply to the issue or email me directly on

Enterprise Climate is the essential Middle East and North Africa publication for senior execs who work in or care about what we think is fast becoming the world’s largest and most significant industry.

Longtime readers know we’ve been passionate about climate since we started publishing in 2014. It’s an industry that cuts across all of the others, from banking and finance to infrastructure, real estate, transport, construction, FMCG, urban planning, professional services and more. Look for us in your inboxes at 4am CLT / 5am KSA / 6am UAE, Monday through Thursday.


Take our Fall Reader Survey today and we’ll have the results for you in a couple of weeks — just in time to give you a sense of what everyone else is thinking heading into budget season.

How has 2022 been for your business? And how do you feel about what’s left of the year? Are you investing? Do you plan to hire new staff (or make cuts to your existing staff) now or in 2023? What’s the USD / EGP rate you expect to use for your 2023 budget? Where do you see your industry as a whole heading?

Let us know in our Fall Reader Survey. It won’t take more than a few minutes to complete — and we’ll be sharing the results with the entire community.


It’s a slow news day (as is often the case late in August), with no single story demanding your attention. We’re still waiting to see what the central bank will (or won’t) do with import restrictions. We’re still waiting to see how far (if at all) Hassan Abdalla will let the EGP ease against the greenback. We’re still waiting to see how talks with the IMF are going… You get the point.

We’re in a natural trough in the news cycle: Abdalla has been on the job for less than two weeks — and has made it clear he is working with cabinet and the team at the central bank to chart the best path forward. The loudest voice on this quiet news morning? Bloomberg, which is back with (yet another) piece on the need to devalue and “stave off” default, as we note in this morning’s news well, below.

WATCH THIS SPACE #1- Could the CBE move to loosen import restrictions next week? Manufacturers may get a break if the central bank moves next week to allow additional raw materials to be imported outside of the letters of credit system, Mohamed Al Bahi, board member at the Federation of Egyptian Industries, told Salet El Tahrir (watch, runtime: 4:54) last night.

Another sign a policy change could be imminent: This came on the same day that Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) Governor Hassan Abdalla met with Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly to discuss plans to exempt certain imports — including raw materials and manufacturing essentials — from the L/Cs system, according to a cabinet statement.

Refresher: Madbouly is the latest in a number of key cabinet members to hold meetings with Abdalla in recent days, stoking expectations among business leaders that they may be looking for ways to ease the import restrictions that have hobbled everyone from manufacturers to retailers.

CLARIFICATION- Hisham Ezz Al Arab’s recent remarks to the international media regarding the expectation that CBE Governor Hassan Abdalla might “go faster” on allowing the EGP to float against the greenback were made hours prior to his being named advisor to the governor. At the time, Hisham was not speaking in his capacity as an advisor.

THE PERFECT SIGN OF THE TIMES- The price of your morning cup of joe is getting more expensive thanks to climate change + import restrictions: Coffee prices have doubled since last year to around USD 4k per container as climate change and import restrictions hit supply, Hassan Fawzy, head of the coffee division at the Cairo Chamber of Commerce, told Ala Mas’ouleety last night (watch, runtime: 15:25). Harsher climate conditions have affected harvests, pushing prices up, while import restrictions introduced by the central bank earlier this year have kept coffee shipments stuck in ports, he said.

WATCH THIS SPACE #2- Is the Qatar Investment Authority (QIA) eyeing shares in Alex Containers and Eastern Company? That’s what a couple of local outlets reported yesterday, citing sources they claim are familiar with the matter. The Gulf country’s sovereign wealth fund is reportedly interested in purchasing a 10-20% stake in Alex Containers held by the Maritime Transport Holding Company. The sources did not disclose figures for Eastern Company, but said that talks were ongoing with the company’s majority shareholder, Chemical Industries Holding (CIHC), and that an agreement would be finalized in the coming days. A senior official at CIHC we reached out to yesterday denied knowledge of the talks and said the company does not have plans to sell any of its shares.

ADVISORS- Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy is reportedly providing legal advice to the QIA while Baker & McKenzie are counsel to the government, the sources said.


Foreign Minister and COP27 President Sameh Shoukry is in Gabon to participate in the United Nations’ Africa Climate Week, which runs from today to Thursday, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. Shoukry is also set to meet with senior Gabonese officials, the statement said.


The global financial press are focused on what looks to be another bad day in the financial markets as the sell-off that accompanied Fed chair Jerome Powell’s hawkish speech last week continues to hit investor confidence. Futures for the S&P 500 and Nasdaq fell more than 1% this morning while Asian markets were heavily in the red, with the Nikkei tumbling almost 3%, the Kospi losing 2.3% and the ASX down 2.1%. The sell-off in the US bond market also continued, pushing two-year yields to their highest level since 2007. (Reuters | Bloomberg | CNBC)

CLOSER TO HOME- The UN called for an immediate ceasefire after clashes between rival Libyan factions left 32 people dead and another 159 wounded in Tripoli, Reuters reports.


Inflation is going to be very difficult to bring down and we may not have the tools to do it: That’s the gloomy post-Jackson Hole message offered to the Financial Times by some of the world’s leading central bankers and economists, who say that the challenge of bringing down soaring inflation could be the biggest faced by policymakers in decades. “At least over the next five years, monetary policymaking is going to be much more challenging than it was in the two decades before the pandemic struck,” Gita Gopinath, deputy managing director of the IMF, told the salmon-colored paper. “We are in an environment where supply shocks are going to be more volatile than we’ve been used to, and that’s going to generate more costly trade-offs for monetary policy.”

Raising interest rates alone might not be enough to bring down inflation, as supply chain disruptions, commodity shocks due to the Russia-Ukraine war, and a post-covid demand recovery keep the pressure on. This potentially leaves central banks without the tools needed to address the crisis, said World Bank president David Malpass. “You’re hiking rates in the hope of reducing inflation, but it is being counteracted by so much friction within the supply chain and production cycle.”


Missed this week’s Inside Industry? In our weekly vertical exploring all things industry and manufacturing, we looked at what manufacturers and industry players are hoping will be the policy priorities for recently-appointed Trade and Industry Minister Ahmed Samir.


The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWEIF) is taking place in Cairo for the first time on 26-27 September, according to a press release (pdf). The hybrid event will bring together more than 60 African and global policy and business experts to discuss how gender integration can boost SME growth.

Egypt’s National Organization for Social Ins. (NOSI) will participate in the Arab Pensions and Social Insurance Conference on 28-29 September in Sharm El Sheikh, a statement by NOSI read. The conference will bring together social ins. organizations and public and private pension providers to discuss widening coverage through region-wide pension reform.

PSA #1- Your deadline to catch a 65% break off late payment fines for your taxes is coming up this Wednesday, 31 August. The waiver applies to late payment fees for customs tariffs, income, real estate, and sales taxes, VAT, and stamp duties among others. The remaining 35% of your due payments will need to be paid before next March.

PSA #2- Exporters have until 15 September to apply to join the fifth phase of FinMin’s export subsidy program, according to a statement. Cabinet has given its approval to pay a total EGP 10 bn out to exporters, with payments to be made on 1 October and 1 December. The program allows exporters to receive overdue subsidies in a single payment rather than in installments over four to five years, in return for a haircut.

Ration card holders now have until 30 September to register their mobile numbers to their cards, in a move meant to make it easier for the Supply Ministry to contact them, the ministry said in a statement yesterday.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.


*** It’s Blackboard day: We have our weekly look at the business of education in Egypt, from pre-K through the highest reaches of higher ed. Blackboard appears every Monday in Enterprise in the place of our traditional industry news roundups.

In today’s issue: Last week, stakeholders in the higher education sector in consultations with the government on its privatization strategy. The broad sentiment is that the sector is faring well, with healthy competition between public and private players, although public universities could learn a few things from their private counterparts to put forward a higher quality of education, our sources tell us.

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