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Sunday, 29 January 2023

THIS MORNING: It’s a packed news day coming out of the long weekend

Good morning, wonderful people, and welcome back. We hope our Egypt-based readers made the best of the long weekend and are feeling energized as we head into the last week of January.

Next stop: Ramadan. The holy month begins on or about Thursday, 23 March, meaning we have 52 days to go. Our next public holiday here in Egypt will be the observance of Coptic Easter and Sham El Nessim in the final week of Ramadan.

BUT FIRST- **TAKE OUR 2022 ENTERPRISE READER SURVEY and get a chance to have lunch with us: Give us your thoughts on how 2022 panned out for your business and industry, and what you’re expecting in the year ahead in our Enterprise Reader Survey.

We’re asking you to share your expectations on the EGP / USD rate in 2023, how you’re managing expenses amid the rising cost of living, where you see your industry as a whole heading, and whether you expect to make fresh investments — among a few other questions we ask our community on a regular basis. As is our custom, we’ll be sharing the results with all of you in a few weeks’ time to help you shape your view of the year.

You can take the Reader Survey here — it won’t take more than a few minutes to complete.

Want to have lunch with us? Leave your name, email, mobile number, and where you work in the box for “Is there anything else you want to tell us. We’ll be inviting eight participating readers to breakfast at one of or favourite restaurants.

THE BIG STORY here at home: It’s the “unofficial economist” edition — and the experts are feeling largely positive about the direction our policymakers are taking. Analysts we spoke to are expecting the central bank to hike interest rates when it meets at the end of the week; analysts Reuters spoke to think growth will beat the government’s forecasts this year; and analysts at S&P Global are maintaining our B credit rating with a stable outlook.

IN MORE GOOD NEWS- The backlog of goods at ports has been cleared, Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly said over the weekend. More on all those stories below.


Blinken in Cairo: US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is in Cairo today and tomorrow to hold talks on regional security before heading to Tel Aviv and Ramallah later in the week, the State Department said Thursday. Blinken will sit down with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and other Egyptian officials to discuss the situation in Palestine as well as efforts to end the political crises in Libya and Sudan.

Blinken’s arrival in the region comes amid escalating violence in the West Bank: Violence between Palestinians and Israelis has escalated in the wake of Israel’s new hard-right government coming to power earlier this month. On Thursday, the Israeli military killed nine Palestinians in Jenin refugee camp and a day later a Palestinian gunman killed seven people outside an East Jerusalem synagogue. Two Israelis were wounded in a second attack yesterday. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry condemned the attack in East Jerusalem in a statement yesterday.

El Sisi visits Armenia for the first time: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi landed in the Armenian capital of Yerevan yesterday, marking the first visit by an Egyptian president since Armenia gained independence from the Soviet Union, according to a statement by Ittihadiya. The visit is part of an ongoing tour that also saw El Sisi visit India and Azerbaijan in recent days. El Sisi is set to meet with his Armenian counterpart Vahagn Khachaturyan, Pan Armenian reports citing a senior official at the Armenian presidential office.


WATCH THIS SPACE #1- The government will in two weeks reveal the details of the state-owned firms it plans to offer on the EGX this year, PM Moustafa Madbouly told reporters (watch, runtime: 9:25), as the state looks to revive its privatization program.

Who could it be? The government is ready to list four companies — Banque du Caire, Misr Life Ins, Egyptian Drilling Company, and Egyptian Linear Alkylbenzene Company (ELAB) — on the EGX, local media reported several weeks ago citing the bourse’s annual report. Eight more listings are reportedly in the pipeline.

WATCH THIS SPACE #2- NBE + BM to withdraw their CDs later this week: The report came a day after the National Bank of Egypt and Banque Misr announced they would be pulling their 25% one-year CDs at the end of the month. CIB, QNB Al Ahli and Banque du Caire also launched high-interest CDs of their own as defensive measures to protect deposits. Expect all of the banks to pull their CDs from the market at the same time.

WATCH THIS SPACE #3- New high-yield CDs on the block? Our friends at Mashreq Bank have reportedly received the central bank’s blessing to issue one-year certificates of deposits (CDs), Al Mal reports citing unnamed banking sources it says have knowledge of the matter. The savings products will reportedly offer a 22.5% return with interest to be paid out monthly. The bank will also issue three-year CDs offering buyers a one-time payment of 19% on maturity, or opt for payments monthly (18.75%), quarterly (18.80%) or semi-annually (18.90%), the news outlet reports.

DATA POINT- Some 40.2 mn Egyptians have been fully vaccinated against covid-19, while reported infections grew to 100 in the third week of January, up from 79 the previous week, according to Health Ministry figures released last week. The government is expecting 1 mn doses of the Pfizer vaccine to arrive in the next two weeks, the statement says, adding that another 2 mn will follow.

AND- The national handball team narrowly missed out on their shot to bring home the World Men’s Handball Championship, losing 22-26 to hosts Sweden in the quarter-finals in Stockholm last Wednesday. After a 34-35 loss to Germany on Friday in the playoffs for 5th-8th place, the Pharaohs will face Hungary this afternoon at 4:30pm CLT for their final match, which will determine if they finish the tournament in 7th or 8th place.


It’s interest rate week here at home… The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) is likely to hike interest rates when it meets on Thursday, 2 February as inflation continues to run high, according to our latest interest rate poll. Get the full story in our Economy section, below.

…And in the US: Expectations are high that the Federal Reserve will continue to slow the pace of its interest rate hikes when it holds its two-day policy meeting on Tuesday and Wednesday. The market is pricing in a 93% chance that the central bank raises rates by 25 bps this week — down from 50 bps in its December meeting — after a gauge of consumer prices last week showed inflation continuing to slow last month.

Light at the end of the tunnel? Economists are now projecting the Fed to call time on its tightening cycle later this quarter after making two 25-bps hikes at its January/February and March meetings, according to a Reuters poll.

EBRD + EU + GCF are holding a green finance event on Tuesday: The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the EU, the Green Economic Financing Facility, and the Green Climate Fund will hold a green finance event on Tuesday, 31 January at the Nile Ritz Carlton Hotel.


The House of Representatives is back in session this week, with discussion and votes set on issues related to tourism, tax, and transport.

TODAY- Draft bill regulating tourism chambers up for a vote: The House will begin discussions ahead of a vote on a draft law that will remove responsibility for forming and regulating chambers of tourism from the Tourism Ministry and place it instead in the hands of the Egyptian Federation of Chambers of Tourism. The bill aims to make tourism chambers more democratic and independent and reinforce their role in promoting the industry, according to a report by the House Tourism and Aviation Committee.

AND- MPs will also discuss and vote on joining two multilateral agreements: one offering administrative assistance on tax matters, and the other to join the BRICS economic group’s New Development Bank.

TOMORROW- Transport Minister Kamel El Wazir is in the hot seat, facing questions in the House on railway and metro upgrades, ports, and maritime transport, as well as what some reps are characterizing as his “excessive borrowing policies” and the high cost of our new Spanish Talgo passenger trains.



We’re excited to unveil our next C-level event: The Enterprise FDI + Exports Forum, where we will take a deep dive into two of the most critical topics affecting our community.

Exports and foreign direct investment (FDI) have never been more important to our economy — or our businesses — than in the wake of the float of the EGP. We think we have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to build an export-led economy that makes us a magnet for FDI and all the benefits that will come with it for our nation.


There’s still no word on when we’ll hear from the government’s fuel pricing committee: We’re still waiting for an announcement on when the committee will meet to decide on fuel prices for the current quarter. The committee usually meets at the beginning of every quarter to decide on fuel prices for the coming three months. The government has increased prices at the pump by 23-28% since April 2021, and decided on a rare fuel oil price hike last July.

Expect more hikes: The government has committed to changing local fuel prices in line with movements in the global markets under the USD 3 bn loan agreement with the IMF.

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

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