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[l] at 3/29/23 2:42pm
Chairperson of Industrial Development Authority (IDA) Mohamed Abdel Karim announced holding monthly meetings with representatives of each industrial chamber to discuss and solve problems of manufacturers on a regular basis. Abdel Karim said that preparations are underway to provide the authority’s services to investors online in a phased manner, in cooperation with e-finance company, as some services will be provided online as a start, including annual follow-up services for licenses and others. This came during a meeting held by Abdel Karim with a number of members of the  Pharmaceuticals, Cosmetics, and Appliances Chamber of the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI) headed by Gamal El-Leithy to discuss the development of the sector, solve  obstacles and challenges facing pharmaceutical industry as one of the most important strategic sectors, and provide immediate solutions to these challenges. Abdel Karim presented the IDA’s efforts in developing mechanisms for granting licences and industrial registry. Accordingly, the authority has recently activated accreditation offices and opened the door for registration for more offices to cover all governorates in coordination with the Engineers Syndicate and the Federation of Egyptian Industries and Civil Protection. He further highlighted the development of advanced methods to improve and speed up services, such as registering and following up all processes for issuing licences and records on audited databases. Abdel Karim listened to a number of the Chamber’s members’ demands, including the problem of linking the validity of industrial registry to the expiry date of the earliest notification of product registration by Egyptian Medicines Authority. 

[Category: Business, IDA]

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[l] at 3/29/23 2:39pm
The Iranian foreign minister said on Wednesday that Tehran and Moscow are taking the final step toward the signing of a long-term cooperation agreement.    Hossein Amir-Abdollahian, who left Iran for Russia on Tuesday, made the remarks at a meeting with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov in Moscow, according to Irans official news agency IRNA.    Amir-Abdollahian said Russia has reviewed and finalised its version of the long-term strategic cooperation agreement, and the Iranian Foreign Ministry has also reviewed the treaty and would hopefully make the final amendments to it in less than a month.    He said different high-ranking Iranian and Russian delegations are exchanging views at different levels and the two countries presidents are constantly in contact with each other.    The top Iranian diplomat noted that the Tehran-Moscow relations are moving on their correct path and improving, expressing hope that the bilateral cooperation in regional and international organisations would continue favourably.    In an address to reporters upon arriving in Moscow on Tuesday night, Amir-Abdollahian said Russia has played a very effective role in the months-long negotiations in Vienna on the revival of a nuclear deal, which was signed in between Iran and world powers in July 2015 and abandoned by the United States in 2018.    Turning to the US concerns about defence cooperation between Iran and Russia, he said cooperation in the defence sector is among the issues on the agenda of Tehran and Moscow, but such collaborations will not be against any third party.    Speaking in the Wednesday meeting with his Iranian counterpart, Lavrov said talks between Moscow and Tehran are continuing actively in different areas and making progress.    The Russian diplomat said bilateral relations, exchanges and cooperation in the political, trade, investment, and economic fields, as well as the implementation of key projects, have been expanded.    He said relations between the two sides through the economic cooperation commission have seen sustainable growth, noting that Russia and Iran have close cooperation on regional and international affairs.    Iran and Russia, both under sanctions imposed by the United States, have been expanding their political and economic relations to counter the US moves.    Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin have held regular phone talks with each other over the past months and paid visits to the two countries.    In July 2022, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that a comprehensive treaty on strategic cooperation between Moscow and Tehran may be signed soon, according to Russias TASS news agency.  

[Category: Politics, World, Moscow, Tehran]

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[l] at 3/29/23 2:37pm
Amr Talaat, Minister of Communications and Information Technology, has met with Frank Hartmann, German Ambassador to Cairo, to discuss strengthening cooperation between Egypt and Germany in the field of digital transformation, and preparing young cadres in the fields of communications and information technology. The meeting also witnessed the discussion of current and future cooperation projects between Egypt and Germany in the field of communications and information technology, including the existing cooperation between the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) within the framework of the project “Supporting Innovation and E-Government”. The meeting also touched on Egypts digital strategy for the outsourcing industry, ways of cooperation in the field of outsourcing, and the preparation of young talents qualified to export information technology services. Reference was made to the efforts made by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and the Information Technology Industry Development Authority to build the capabilities of young people in technical fields, and to provide training programs to help them master the German language to qualify them to work in the outsourcing services sector and call center services in the German language. During the meeting, Talaat stressed the keenness of the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to benefit from the distinguished expertise of the German side in the field of information technology, as well as in the fields of research and development based on modern technologies such as artificial intelligence and digital transformation; pointing out the possibility of the German side benefiting from the young Egyptian competencies working in the self-employment market in the fields of information technology, as well as expanding areas of cooperation with German companies to benefit from the outsourcing services provided by Egypt. For his part, Hartmann expressed his interest in working to enhance cooperation between the two countries in the field of communications and information technology. Referring to Germanys interest in opening the market to benefit from young experiences from other countries, including Egypt; as well as strengthening efforts to increase womens participation in the workforce in the fields of communications and information technology; stressing the importance of completing cooperation between the ministry and the German Agency for International Cooperation (GIZ) in the fields of digital transformation. The meeting was attended by Ahmed Al-Zaher, CEO of the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), Sherine El-Gendy, Assistant Minister of Communications and Information Technology for Strategy and Implementation, and Samah Aziz, Supervisor of the Central Department of International Relations at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology. The meeting was also attended by Alexis Bello, Head of Economic Affairs, and Holger Elle, Director of German Cooperation and Development at the German Embassy in Cairo.

[Category: Business, Communications, digital transformation, Egypt, Germany]

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[l] at 3/29/23 2:34pm
Australia’s Ambassador to Egypt Axel Wabenhorst has said that the trade exchange between Australia and Egypt reached AUD 1bn in fiscal year 2021/22, noting that Australia’s most valuable export to Egypt was fava beans. He added that Australia and Egypt “have much to gain by cooperating further on dry-land agricultural practices and water management.” The ambassador also discussed tourism, archaeology, and other areas of cooperation. His remarks came during the Australian Embassy in Cairo celebration for the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan by hosting an Iftar for the new class of attachés from the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday. The aim of the iftar with the new Egyptian diplomats, who will be responsible for the future of Egyptian diplomacy, is to promote the long standing bilateral relations between Australia and Egypt and the strong people-to-people links. Ambassador Wabenhorst stated: “Egyptians have made a big contribution to Australia” with 40,000 residents of Australia having been born in Egypt.” Wabenhorst congratulated the diplomatic attachés on beginning their diplomatic careers, and told them “through this Iftar, the Australian Embassy wants to share the spirit of Ramadan with you.” Head of the Diplomatic Institute at the Egyptian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Walid Haggag, thanked the Australian Ambassador for hosting the iftar. The Ambassador concluded by stressing that Australia remains committed to working with Egypt to advance areas of mutual interest in the bilateral relationship.

[Category: Business, Australia, Egypt]

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[l] at 3/29/23 2:31pm
Volatility took over the Egyptian Exchange (EGX) indices due to investors fear of changes in the economic scene. This forced fluctuations on the markets performance amid a state of anticipation of the Central Bank of Egypt’s (CBE) decision regarding interest rates. Most expectations indicate a significant increase in interest rates, as Morgan Stanley expected an increase in interest rates by at least 2%, and money market traders attributed the fluctuation to the markets need for positive news. The EGX indices declined at the close of trading, with EGX30 recording a decline of 0.11% to 15,932 points, with the largest share of the CIB in terms of relative weight in the index declining by 3.37%. EGX70 decreased by 0.19% to 2,804 points, while the broader EGX100 increased by 0.3% to 4,196 points. EGX30 Capped recorded an increase of 0.67% to 18,972 points. Mohamed Hassan, managing director of Blom Asset Management, attributed the decline after the strong rebound from the 14,000-point level, to the 16,000-point level again, to profit-taking, and the fact that the 16,000-point level is an important resistance level. He highlighted investors fears and skepticism about the Egyptian economy and their aspirations for CBE’s decision and the interest rate, especially in light of expectations to raise it by about 200 to 300 basis points. He explained that the main index is still in a state of fluctuation, adding that the market needs positive news for its recovery, or to move the exchange rate up again. He advised investors to reduce part of the buying positions, activate stop-loss points, and wait for the trend to be confirmed. The market capital of listed shares reached EGP 1.02trn. Additionally, the market witnessed trading values ​​of EGP 1.5bn, through the trading of 356.9 million shares, by carrying out 56,500 buying and selling operations. This came after the shares of 193 listed companies were traded, leading to 47 shares rising during the session, and the most rising shares were Sidi Kerir Petrochemical by 7.46%, and the shares of Ezz steel by 7.35%. The prices of 79 shares declined, and the most declining share was Macro Group Pharmaceuticals-Macro Capital by 5.6% and the share of Construction and Engineering Consulting by 4.55%, while the prices of 67 shares did not change. Mahmoud Hossam, Director of Local Institutions Trading at Mubasher Trade, said that the coherence of the main index was the reason for bringing balance to the capital market. He explained that there is selling pressure on the shares of CIB and Hermes, which have the largest relative weight in the index, recording a decrease of 3.92% and 1.7%, respectively, in contrast to the positive performance of shares such as Ezz Steel, ElSewedy Electric, and Sidi Kerir, which recorded an increase of 7.35%, 6.5%, and 7.46% respectively. He pointed out that the Hermes stock rebounded during the session when it reached an important support level at EGP 15.80 and closed at EGP 16.22. The CIB share has a support area at EGP 48-49, suggesting its consolidation at that area. He added that the nearest support level for the main index is at 15,700 points, and the next resistance level is at 16,200 points. He also expected an interest rate increase from 2% to 3% at the CBE meeting next Thursday, with the exchange rate remaining stable in the near term. The net transactions of Egyptian and Arab investors tended to buy, with net transactions of about EGP 138.2m and EGP 63.3m, accounting for 82.2% and 8.02%, with the exception of foreigners, who tended to sell, with net transactions of about EGP 205.1m, accounting for 9.79%. Individuals carried out 68.34% of the transactions, heading towards selling, with the exception of Egyptians, who recorded a net purchase of EGP 21.4m, while Arabs and foreigners recorded a net sale of EGP 5.6m and EGP 1.6m, respectively. Institutions captured 31.65% of the trading, heading towards buying, with the exception of foreign institutions, which recorded a net sale of EGP 199.8m, while local institutions and Arab institutions recorded a net purchase of EGP 116.7m and EGP 68.9m, respectively.

[Category: Business, EGX, Volatile trading]

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[l] at 3/29/23 2:27pm
Telecom Egypt (TE) announced on Wednesday the appointment of Mohamed Nasr El-Din as the company’s new CEO and Managing Director. Nasr El-Din was the Assistant Minister of Communications and Information Technology for International Information Infrastructure. Nasr El-Din will succeed Adel Hamed who resigned from the position. Nasr El-Din thanked the board of directors for choosing him for this position, adding that he looks forward to working with the board of directors and the executive work team to achieve more success and excellence for the company and serve its customers who are the focus of its attention and an essential part of it. “I will devote all my efforts to achieving the company’s vision and strategy, providing a mix of diverse services to suit the various needs of our customers to provide distinguished experience for them. I also look forward to benefiting from the distinguished employees of the company to make the best use of all available opportunities and achieve more growth,” said Nasr El Din in his first statement after assuming the new position. Telecom Egypt had announced that the company’s board of directors, in its meeting, approved the appointment of Nasr El-Din as Managing Director and CEO, after the board accepted Adel Hamed’s resignation. He will assume a position in the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, provided that he remains a non-executive member of the Board of Directors of TE. Maged Othman, Chairman of the Board of Directors of TE, said that Nasr El-Din was chosen for that position due to his distinguished and extensive experience in the field of communications and information technology. His previous experience and pioneering role in TE as Head of the International Communications Services Business Unit in 2014 qualifies him to be the ideal candidate for this position. He would be able to manage the company, maximize the value of its assets and investments, and implement the company’s strategy within the framework of its vision for expansion and growth. Nasr El-Din joined the Board of Directors of Telecom Egypt as a non-executive member in July 2020, representing the government. He joined TE in 2004 and received promotions until he headed the International Communication Services Business Unit in 2014. During that period, he undertook several initiatives in submarine cable systems, which contributed to maximizing the company’s revenues. Nasr El-Din held the position of Assistant Minister of Communications and Information Technology for International Information Infrastructure from May 2020 until March 2023. He has an experience of over 20 years in the field of communications, especially in investments, development and operation of submarine cable systems and international communication networks. Nasr El-Din has been part of international programs and projects. He held the position of Executive Vice President of Global Infrastructure for Undersea Cables at CW Global, which he joined in 2016. It is the global arm of Hong Kong Telecom. He has a Bachelor’s degree in telecommunications from the Faculty of Engineering at Al-Azhar University in 2001, and a Master’s degree in business administration.

[Category: Business, Telecom Egypt]

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[l] at 3/29/23 2:24pm
Play with all your heart, play the way you feel composer Fryderyk Chopin once said. The Embassy of Poland in Cairo, in cooperation with Cairo Opera House, organized a Chopin Competition for talented young pianists, dedicated to Frédéric Chopin. This year, the 8th Chopin Piano Competition for Children and Youth in Egypt 2023 was held in Cairo from 17 to 20 March. It is aimed at young pianists of all nationalities living or residing in Egypt. The competition promotes the musicality of children and young people as well as the international idea and enables networking. The award ceremony and winners concert took place on 20 March at the Small Hall of the Cairo Opera House. The winners were awarded in the presence of the Ambassador of Poland in Cairo, Michał Łabenda; the CEO of Rahn Education, Gotthard Dittrich; and Elżbieta Durska, President of the Foundation Board of Europejska Fundacja Oświaty i Kultury of Rahn Education. The international jury consisted of renowned pianist Mariola Cieniawa-Puchala from Poland, Helgeheide Schmidt from Germany, and Maestro Ahmed El Saedi from Egypt (main founder and chairman of the Egyptian Philharmonic Society as well as chief conductor of the Cairo Symphony Orchestra). Special prizes awaited the young pianists and in each category: Category A (participants up to 12 years old), Category B (up to 15 years old), Category C (up to 18 years old) and Category D (up to 21 years old)) a first, a second and a third prize were available. All first prize winners will receive a trip to the most important memorials of Fryderyk Chopin in Poland, and there will be a concert in the Filharmonia Zielonogórska in Zielona Gora – Poland in summer 2023. The winner of the 1st prize of the competition will have the unique opportunity to play a solo concert with the Cairo Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Maestro Ahmed El Saedi. All prize winners participated in a master class given by Prof. Mariola Cieniawa-Puchala. Ali Abdelrazik won the 1st prize, and Kavin Shrimali from India and lives in Cairo, won the 3rd prize of category B. In Category C, Shahd Said was awarded with the 1st prize, Romaysaa Khaled Darwish and Zeina Quadoora won the 3rd prize. Mahmoud Elbatran won the 1st prize in category D as well as the special prize for classic interpretation.

[Category: Culture, Cairo Opera, Chopin Piano]

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[l] at 3/29/23 2:21pm
Egypt’s Minister of Health and Population Khaled Abdel Ghaffar met on Wednesday Ghada Wali, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), and Christina Albertin, the Regional Representative of the UNODC for the Middle East and North Africa, in Cairo to discuss boosting cooperation in issues of common interest. Hossam Abdel Ghaffar, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population, said that the meeting discussed ways of cooperation in terms of combating drugs, crime and corruption, within the framework of the regional action of the Arab countries, in a way that contributes to achieving peace and security and preserving the community health of citizens. Abdel Ghaffar added that the meeting dealt with consultations about providing a number of training courses for 21 psychiatrists working in mental health hospitals in Egypt next May 2023, on the implementation of anti-drug programmes, correct dealing with addiction patients, as well as opening new horizons for the training system in cooperation between the Ministry and the UNODC, through specialized trainers. He pointed out that the meeting discussed the importance of providing specialized training courses for doctors working in health facilities in border areas and areas with a density of immigrants from other countries so that these courses include training on (providing sound health services, especially for AIDS diseases, correct methods of dealing with mental disorders, combating drugs and dealing with them). For her part, Wali affirmed the provision of all means of support to the ministry to combat drugs, crime and corruption, in addition to supporting the ministrys program on treatment with opiates.

[Category: Politics, Egypt, UNODC]

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[l] at 3/29/23 2:19pm
President of the General Investment Authority (GAFI) Hossam Heiba reviewed the efforts recently made by the Egyptian government to facilitate and accelerate the procedures for registering companies, opening their headquarters in Egypt, and creating an attractive investment environment. He said that 13 golden licences have been granted to companies, and 40 others are currently under study.  He stressed that the government aims to generalize the golden license experience for all industries and sectors. Heiba mentioned this during his meeting with representatives of the Greek company Mytilineos operating in the energy and industry sectors, in the presence of Noha Kamal, head of the commercial representation office at the Egyptian Embassy in Athens, and Ahmed Mongi Badr, representative of the European Union administration in commercial representation, in order to discuss opportunities for investment in Egypt. The company is considering pumping investments in Egypt during the coming period, in the fields of building solar power plants, storage batteries, new and renewable energy, oil and natural gas, infrastructure and sustainable engineering solutions, in light of the extensive experience that the company has in these areas. Heiba stated that there are 23 memorandums of understanding (MoUs) that have already been signed in the field of green hydrogen production, including nine framework agreements under implementation. He added that there are many companies that are interested in pumping more investment to produce ammonia and green hydrogen for exportation purposes, especially In light of the approved incentives for investment in this sector and with the availability of advanced infrastructure and surplus energy and other investment elements in Egypt. Mytilineos is a leading global company in the fields of energy and industrial fields and is present in the five continents of the world. Its activities are focused on two main sectors: the energy and mineral sector in Europe. 

[Category: Business, GAFI]

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[l] at 3/29/23 12:56pm
In his capacity as Ruler of Abu Dhabi the UAE President issued an Emiri decree appointing Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi. Sheikh Khaled, one of the presidents sons, has served as a Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairperson of Abu Dhabi Executive Office UAE President has also named Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed as Vice President and Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed as Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, in a series of major appointments. Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed and Hazza bin Zayed were made Deputy Rulers of Abu Dhabi. The decision will mean Sheikh Mansour will serve alongside Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.

[Category: Politics, Breaking News, Abu Dhabi]

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[l] at 3/29/23 12:47pm
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi has directed the development of imams to keep pace with contemporary issues and in accordance with the Islamic religion. President Al-Sisi met on Wednesday with Minister of Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa. The Spokesperson for the Egyptian Presidency, Ahmed Fahmy, stated that the Minister Gomaa presented the latest developments in the rehabilitation and training programs for new imams, which are carried out for the purpose of qualifying them in advocacy, scientific and cultural terms, by a group of senior specialists in the fields of religious sciences and humanities, social and cultural studies. The meeting also dealt with the executive position of the Ministry of Awqafs plan to send imams and Quran reciters to various countries of the world during the holy month of Ramadan, in light of Egypts leading role in this field. President Al-Sisi was also briefed on the efforts of the Ministry of Awqaf to prepare for its international conference, which will focus on discussing the role of modern electronic means in religious discourse, within the framework of the states orientation towards digital transformation in various fields. Gomaa also presented the latest developments in the development of the revenues of the Awqaf Authority, which are growing significantly and continuously, in light of President Al-Sisis permanent directives to preserve and invest in the good investment of Awqaf assets, in order to achieve the public interest.

[Category: Politics, Egypt, Al-sisi]

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[l] at 3/29/23 12:43pm
Egypt’s Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad met with Ghada Wali, the Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), on Wednesday to discuss bilateral cooperation in the field of confronting environmental crimes. During the meeting, Fouad reviewed the outcomes of COP27, and the priority topics to work on in preparation for the upcoming COP28 in the UAE, which are waste, biodiversity, and deforestation, where the minister indicated the possibility of cooperation in advancing the two waste initiatives for Africa 50 by 2050, and nature-based solutions. The Minister of Environment also referred to the cooperation with the presidency of the upcoming COP28 to complete work on the nature-based solutions initiative, which was launched at COP27. For her part, Wali indicated her aspiration to cooperate with the Ministry of Environment in implementing the Nature-Based Solutions initiative, as the UNODC aims to help countries build systems to confront criminal activities by protecting the quality of life for societies, and this is linked to the effects of climate change.  Therefore, the program is concerned with capacity-building to support the legal systems of countries to raise awareness of environmental crimes, which may be linked to crimes resulting from displacement and the different quality of life. The programme is also concerned with protecting fishermen and limiting illegal fishing, especially in North Africa. Furthermore, the two sides also discussed bilateral cooperation in the field of combating wildlife trafficking, where the Minister of Environment presented the experience of cooperation with Jordan in twinning the Jordanian Shelter Reserve model, by implementing the Sanctuary Reserve in Fayoum to include threatened animals that were traded illegally to protect them, within the framework of the national campaign to promote eco-tourism, ECO EGYPT. The meeting also dealt with ways of cooperation in reducing marine pollution and oil pollution accidents, as the Minister of Environment expressed her willingness to support the program in establishing a centre to confront marine pollution in the Middle East, and to benefit from Egypts experience in facing oil spill accidents. Moreover, Fouad listened to Wali’s proposal to cooperate in the field of environmental crimes to enhance expertise and the ability to properly assess this type of crime and tighten control over it, and establish specialised prosecutions in environmental crimes in Egypt. 

[Category: Business, UNODC]

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[l] at 3/29/23 12:40pm
The Cabinet approved Egypts draft budget for fiscal year (FY) 2023/24, during a meeting in the New Administrative Capital on Wednesday. Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait said that the target growth in the budget was 4.1%, in line with the estimates of the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, the targets of the Central Bank of Egypt, and global price estimates. The new budget aims to achieve the highest primary surplus of 2.5% of GDP, and the growth of allocations for subsidies, grants, and social benefits by 28.2%, compared to 17.1% in the current fiscal year’s budget. It is the highest primary surplus targeted in the framework of efforts to reduce government debt to GDP, indicating that the new budget estimated the inflation rate at 16%. It also aims to increase subsidies for food commodities by 20%, subsidies for petroleum products by 24%, subsidies for exports by 462.5%, and support for health insurance and medicines by 50.4%. Housing support (low-income and social housing) will grow by 103.5% and social security pension support will increase by 24%. Maait explained that total revenues in the new budget are expected to grow by 38.4%, while tax revenues are expected to grow by 28%.  The Minister said that the budget includes a social security pension at an annual growth rate of 24%, as well as contributions to pension funds and medical expenses of citizens. He pointed out that the budget for the next fiscal year also includes an annual growth in wage and employee compensation allocations by 14.6%.

[Category: Business, budget, cabinet]

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[l] at 3/29/23 12:37pm
The Monetary Policy Committee (MPC) of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) will hold its second periodic meeting in the current year to discuss the fate of the basic interest rates at the Central Bank, which are the most prominent indicator of the Egyptian pound’s interest rates in the short term. The committee had decided, in its meeting held on 2 February, to keep those rates at 16.25% for deposits, 17.25% for lending, and 16.75% for the credit and discount rate and the price of the main operation with the Central Bank, after raising them by 8% during the year 2022, of which 5 are % in the last quarter of the year. The committee said, in its statement accompanying this decision, that the decision aims to assess the impact of the proactive increases made by the Central Bank during the year 2022, amounting to 8%, on inflation. It pointed to the persistence of inflationary pressures on the demand side, which was reflected in the development of real economic activity compared to its maximum production capacity and the impact of recent exchange rate fluctuations, pointing out that these developments are consistent with the rise in the domestic liquidity growth rate. The committee clarified that to counter inflationary pressures, it had proactively raised the basic interest rates at the Central Bank by 800 basis points during 2022, including 500 basis points during the fourth quarter of the year, and it also increased the percentage of cash reserves that banks are obligated to keep with the Central Bank by 400 basis points in September 2022. The committee believes that the CBE’s proactive policy aims to control inflationary pressures and reduce inflation expectations to the target level of 7% ± 2% on average during the fourth quarter of 2024. The Committee indicated that the course of basic interest rates depends on expected inflation rates and not the prevailing inflation rates, stressing that restricting monetary conditions is a prerequisite for achieving targeted inflation rates and the goal of price stability in the medium term. The Central Bank revealed, earlier this month, that the annual core inflation rate had risen to 40.3% in February 2023, compared to 31.2% in January 2023, marking the highest level in its history. The monthly core inflation rate recorded 8.1% in February 2023, compared to 6.3% in January 2023, and 1.2% in February 2022. The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics also revealed that the annual inflation rate in Egyptian cities rose to 31.9% in February, compared to 25.8% in January, and on a monthly basis, inflation reached 6.5% compared to 4.7%. According to Mohamed Abdel-Aal, a well-known banking expert, in light of the escalation of the inflation rate to these unprecedented levels, it is expected that the Egyptian monetary authorities will continue to pursue a very tight monetary policy, whether it is gradual or at a rapid pace. “Within the scope of personal expectation, we can see a new interest rate hike by about 200 to 300 basis points, and there may be scope, in a next or accompanying step, to raise the compulsory reserve ratio of the Egyptian pound to 20%, in light of what is expected of the continuation of some pressures on the Egyptian pound, which means that the inflation rate will continue to rise in the current month of March, especially under the influence of the rise in fuel prices and the inflationary pressures accompanying the month of Ramadan, as well as the impact of the wage hike package, he added. Abdel Aal indicated that if this happens, it will give the green light to some banks to offer a new savings certificate with very distinct interest rates, to absorb the excess liquidity of the new or renewed family sector from the due certificates. Despite his expectations, Mohamed Abdel-Aal believes that focusing on the policy of raising interest more than it is now may not be beneficial at the macroeconomic level, in both its monetary and financial aspects, pointing out that “our conditions and problems in Egypt are different from the conditions and problems of other countries that fight inflation by raising inflation.” Abdel Aal said: Continuing with what the Monetary Policy Committee adopted in its previous meeting, fixing interest, is, in my opinion, the best solution. He pointed out that raising interest and making new deposits at high prices, the net income of which will inevitably be negative, is illogical, and will not achieve the interests of the country or the citizens in the short and medium term. He added: “I hope that the interest will be fixed for another period, and that the certificates that have begun to mature will return to the various savings vessels that currently exist in all banks spread across the land of Egypt, and all of them are at reasonable and distinct prices, and there is no logical justification for issuing new savings certificates, and with the gradual decline in inflation, we will reach a fair and positive rate of return that guarantees real income for the saver and the investor. According to Abdel-Al, it is not true that raising interest makes the national currency more attractive to indirect foreign investment in public debt securities, and helps to resist the phenomenon of dollarization, explaining that this may be possible in normal global economic conditions, but in light of the state of anxiety and turmoil that currently prevails in the world, it may push investors to other safe haven assets, no matter how high interest rates are. Heba Mounir, a macroeconomic analyst at HC Securities and Investment, expected that the MPC would continue its tightening policy, and raise interest rates by 200 basis points at its meeting scheduled for Thursday, with the aim of controlling the increasing inflation rates, which is expected. It should continue to rise, peaking at 35.9% by July 2023, before gradually declining to 30.3% by December. According to Mounir, it is expected that the inflation figures for March and the coming months will reflect an increase in gasoline prices by rates ranging from 7 to 11% in early March and an increase in the prices of heavy fuel oil, diesel by 20% for all industries except for the food and electricity generation sectors, the expected increase in household electricity as of 1 July, along with the recent liberation of some basic food commodities such as rice, and the shortage in domestic poultry supplies due to problems related to feed prices and availability, which were affected by the Russian-Ukrainian war. In addition, the value of the Egyptian pound has declined by 20% since the beginning of the year until now. She added that in light of the increase in inflationary pressures, and Egypts need to maintain investment attractiveness, it is expected that the rate of return required by investors on Egyptian treasury bills for the 12-month term will reach 25.18%, which reflects the rise in the credit default swap for Egypt for a period of one year to 1419 compared to its level at 670 at the beginning of last February. According to Mounir, the last issuance of treasury bills for a period of 12 months recorded an average return of 19.19%, after deducting taxes of 15% for foreign investors, which reflects a real return of negative 2.31%, taking into account inflation expectations of 21.5% in March 2024, which reinforces the view on the expected increase in interest rates. A Reuters poll showed that the Central Bank of Egypt is expected to raise overnight interest rates by 2% at its meeting tomorrow, as it struggles to control soaring inflation. The average expectation in the poll, which included 15 analysts, was that the Central Bank would raise the interest rate on deposits to 18.25% and the lending rate to 19.25%, while 7 analysts expected an increase of 3%.

[Category: Banking, CBE]

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[l] at 3/29/23 8:41am
European Union (EU) member states on Tuesday agreed to ban the sale of new CO2-emitting cars by 2035. The decision came after the European Commission and Germany reached a compromise on the exemption of internal combustion engine cars run on e-fuels from the ban.    The Council of the EU has adopted a regulation setting stricter CO2 emissions standards for new cars and vans. This aims to reduce emissions from road transport, which account for the largest share of emissions from transport. It also aims to encourage the automotive industry to shift towards zero emissions.    The new rules establish goals of reducing emissions by 55% for new cars, and by 50% for new vans compared to 2021 levels, between 2030 and 2034. It also aims for a 100% reduction in CO2 emissions for both new cars and vans from 2035.    The new rules will bring opportunities for cutting-edge technologies and create the momentum for the industry to invest in a fossil-free future, Swedish Minister for Climate and the Environment Romina Pourmokhtari said. Sweden now holds the Presidency of the Council of the EU.    A regulatory incentive for zero- and low-emission vehicles (ZLEV) will be in place from 2025 until the end of 2029, meaning that if a manufacturer meets certain benchmarks for the sales of zero- and low-emission vehicles, it will be rewarded with less strict CO2 targets. This benchmark is set at 25% for cars, and 17% for vans.    In 2026, the Commission will assess the progress made towards achieving its 100% emission reduction targets.    The proposal to phase out carbon emissions from cars and vans is part of the Fit for 55 package presented by the European Commission in July 2021. This aims to reduce the EUs net greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 compared to 1990 levels and to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.    Germany had initially opposed the package, as the countrys strong auto industry hoped to continue to sell internal combustion engine cars from 2035, and e-fuels or climate-neutral fuels are not yet manufactured on large scale.    However, on Saturday the European Commission and Germany reached a deal over the future use of e-fuels in cars, allowing for internal combustion engine cars to be sold after 2035 if they fill up exclusively with CO2-neutral fuels.  

[Category: Business, EU]

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[l] at 3/29/23 8:39am
Surging fuel costs in Lebanon have forced Mohammad Eido, a 46-year-old university teacher, to sell his BMW and opted for sharing his brothers car or using public transport, like many other commuters who struggle to cope with galloping inflation in the crisis-ridden country.    Despite having sold his limousine at 12,000 U.S. dollars, Eido told Xinhua that his monthly salary of 12 million Lebanese pounds, equivalent to $111.8 at the parallel market, could barely cover his mounting food bills amid the economic crisis.    Honestly, when gasoline prices went up, I stopped using my car until I noticed that its nonsense to keep it, as I wont be able to use it anymore, Eido told Xinhua.    The Energy Ministry announced on Monday that the price of 20 litres of gasoline reached 1,996,000 pounds (about 18.6 dollars on the parallel market), compared to the same volume in June 2021 which had cost 61,000 pounds, or four dollars then.    The latest round of price surge came after the foreign reserve-strapped Lebanese central bank lift all major subsidies for gasoline import in September 2022.    Rasha Ghanem, a marketing manager at a Lebanese trading company, told Xinhua she had taken advantage of the warm season to use her expat brothers motorbike for commute, leaving her car in the garage to save on fuel costs.    I will have to figure out what to do with my daily transport options a few months later when winter is back, she added.    As for Layal Mehdi, a legal secretary in Beirut, she prepared to ask a neighbour for a ride to and from work. We are forced to come up with solutions to cut our expenses as much as possible, Mehdi told Xinhua.    Lebanon has been facing an unprecedented financial crisis, causing a collapse in the local currency and plunging over three-quarters of the population into poverty. The crisis also forced banks to impose restrictions on withdrawals of deposits in the Lebanese pound and U.S. dollar, which exacerbated the worsening living conditions of the Lebanese.    The dire economic situation forced Lebanese citizens to focus their purchases on the most basic needs, including food, medicines, and education, while trying to cut other expenses, hoping to make ends meet.    Representative of fuel distribution companies in Lebanon Fadi Abou Chakra told Xinhua that gasoline prices have increased due to rises in import costs, resulting in a drop of demand for the commodity by around 40%.    Lebanese citizens have often urged their government to overhaul the public transport sector to provide affordable and effective services.    The transport ministry, despite having received 50 donated buses from the French government in 2022, only put 10 of them on duty for one month as there were no sufficient funds to cover the cost of manpower and fuel of the entire fleet, Bassam Tleis, head of the land transport unions, told Xinhua.    He added that the government planned to partner with private companies in operating and maintaining the buses, an option which he said suit Lebanons current situation.  

[Category: Business, Fuel]

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[l] at 3/29/23 8:36am
Egypt’s Minister of Health and Population, Khaled Abdel Ghaffar; directed the speedy completion of construction work at the new Heart Institute in El-Shorouk City, on an area of 81,480 square meters, with a capacity of 500 beds.  He also directed providing special equipment and training of all medical teams, during the construction and equipment period, to ensure the provision of medical services at international standards. This came during the ministers weekly meeting, with the ministrys leaders and heads of agencies, with the participation of all the ministrys undersecretaries in the governorates via video conference technology.  Hossam Abdel Ghaffar, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Population, stated that the meeting aimed to follow up on the progress of work in the various files of the ministry, and to identify challenges and obstacles and overcome them, to ensure the continuation of providing the best medical services to patients. Moreover, the minister directed to expedite the development and raise the efficiency of the already existing heart institute, in parallel with the project to establish the new heart institute. Abdel Ghaffar added that the minister directed to accelerate of the pace of work to develop and raise the efficiency of the Coptic Hospital and Heliopolis Hospital, and also directed the formation of a committee of specialists at Umm Al-Masryeen Hospital to determine the current actual needs of the hospital to start developing it fully and raising its efficiency. He noted that the minister directed all directors of health directorates in the governorates to intensify periodic traffic to health facilities, according to a unified mechanized follow-up model, to monitor performance, in a way that ensures the provision of the best medical services to patients, while measuring the level of satisfaction of service recipients, as well as listening to medical teams and their suggestions regarding the development of the health system. During the meeting, the minister was briefed during the meeting on the ministrys plan for vocational medical education in 2023, and the axes for developing the system, which includes raising the efficiency of trainers and trainees, developing training programs and curricula, training methods used, and developing the 528 training centres nationwide. 

[Category: Politics, Egypt, health minister, New Heart Institute]

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[l] at 3/29/23 8:32am
IBM Security has announced the results of its 2023 X-Force Threat Intelligence Index report, which revealed the success of global cyber attackers in detecting and preventing extortion attacks, although the proportion of such attacks in the Middle East and Africa region remained stable at 18%. The report also showed that the average time to complete extortion attacks decreased from two months to less than 4 days as the attackers were able to develop their methods. According to the report, the backdoors attack, i.e. remote penetration of systems, was the most used cyber attack method in the Middle East and Africa region last year, which represented 27% of the cases recorded by the X-Force index in the region during 2022. Extortion and computer worms, at 18% each, are the second most common cyberattacks in the region. The rise in “backdoor” attacks is due to the increase in their market value; The index monitored that attackers sell the backdoor virus for $10,000; compared to the proceeds from the sale of stolen credit card data, which is currently estimated at less than $10. Organizations in the Middle East and Africa region are grappling with ever-evolving cyber threats, as Marwa Abbas, General Manager, IBM Egypt, said: “Results from the IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index show that cyber attackers continue to invent new ways to evade attacks monitoring. She explained that the financial and insurance services sector is the most vulnerable to cyberattacks in the Middle East and Africa. Therefore, it has become necessary for institutions to develop a proactive security strategy by strengthening monitoring processes and defenses against these attacks to enable institutions to predict threats and protect private data traffic, IBM provides a full suite of security products and services powered by AI and dynamic automation capabilities that allow us to respond to threats quickly and accurately without impacting business. The X-Force Threat Intelligence Index from IBM Security detects trends and patterns of current and new attacks by collecting and analyzing billions of data from network and end devices, examining security incident response processes and many other sources. Other highlights of the report include: • Cyber extortion: the most common and fastest method for perpetrators of cyber attacks. Extortion is the most influential cyberattack in 2022, as it was mainly carried out through corporate e-mail. In addition, half of the cyber attacks in the Middle East and Africa in 2021 were aimed at extortion and financial exploitation. The manufacturing sector was the most exposed to such attacks in the world in 2022, for the second year in a row, as manufacturing institutions are considered an attractive target for extortion operations due to the seriousness of the impact of their suspension of work. • Hacking email conversations. Hacked email conversations skyrocketed in 2022, as attackers took advantage of compromised email accounts to respond to ongoing conversations, pretending to be the original participants in those conversations. The X-Force index monitored a 100% increase in the monthly rate of hack attempts globally compared to 2021. The index also revealed that attackers use this method to transmit Emotet, Qakbot, and IcedID, malware often used to carry out extortion attacks. • Old programs and technologies are still doing their job. The ability of known legacy software to respond to cyberattacks decreased by 10% globally from 2018 to 2022 due to the high number of malware recording the highest level. The reports findings indicate that continued adoption of such outdated technologies has allowed the spread of legacy malware such as WannaCry and Conficker. • Reduction in credit card data theft. The number of criminals targeting such data theft decreased by 52% globally in one year, with increasing interest in stealing personally identifiable data such as names, emails, and home addresses, which can be sold at a higher price on the dark web, or used for further fraudulent operations. • Finance and Insurance remain the most vulnerable to cyberattacks in the Middle East and Africa: In 2022, the finance and insurance sectors in the Middle East and North Africa region accounted for 44% of all cyberattacks, down slightly from 2021 (48%). The professional, commercial and consumer services sector accounted for 22% of the attacks, while the manufacturing and energy sectors ranked third with 11%.

[Category: Business, cyberattacks]

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[l] at 3/29/23 8:30am
The Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS) issued a press release of primary data of manufacturing and extractive industries of production index of January 2023. CAPMAS has updated the index methodology using the base year 2012/2013 and at the level of main indices of industrial activity according to Industrial Activity Manual (ISIC Rev.4) and by using the monthly index (for producer prices based on 2012/2013) thats since January 2020. The manufacturing and extractive industries index (excluding crude oil and petroleum products) reached 105.69 during January2023 (primary) compared to 108.58 during December 2023 (final), a decrease of 2.66%. The manufacture of food products reached 155.21 during January 2023, compared to 130.40 in December 2022, an increase of 19.03%. The manufacture of computer, electronic, and optical products reached 92.51 in January 2023, compared to 84.57 in December 2022, an increase of 9.39%. Manufacture of chemicals and chemical products reached 92.60 in January 2023, compared to 97.32 in December 2022, a decrease of 4.85%. Manufacture of basic pharmaceutical products and pharmaceutical preparations reached 90.99 in January 2023, compared to 127.96 in December 2022, a decrease of 28.89%, due to unavailability of raw materials required for production.

[Category: Business, manufacturing]

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[l] at 3/29/23 8:13am
Minister of Finance Mohamed Maait and Head of the Office of the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) in Egypt, Kato Ken, have signed an executive agreement for concessional development financing, which amounts to about 44 billion Japanese yen. This aims to support the states efforts to achieve comprehensive health coverage for Egyptian families. The Minister of Finance said that this agreement is a new impetus for the development cooperation between Egypt and Japan. It contributes to enhancing efforts to complete the extension of the umbrella of the national comprehensive health insurance project throughout Egypt. It is also the main tool for reforming the health sector, and providing comprehensive and integrated health care for all citizens, with high quality and a proper price. This helps enhance the operational capabilities of the General Authority for Comprehensive Health Insurance, and increases the quality of the medical services provided to citizens. It also helps complete the implementation of the new system during the next seven years, and achieve the desired goals according to the specified timetable. Maait stressed Egypts keenness on benefitting from the Japanese experience in various fields, especially the health sector, within the framework of the Egyptian trend to enhance cooperation with development partners from friendly countries. This is in line with the unprecedented development movement in Egypt, which aims to lay the foundations for a decent life for citizens. The sector of human development, with its axes health and education, is considered a top priority. Maait pointed out that it is scheduled to extend the umbrella of comprehensive health insurance to the rest of the governorates of the first phase, which includes Suez, Aswan, and South Sinai, before the end of the current fiscal year and completing the rest of the governorates in succession. For her part, Mai Farid, Acting Executive Director of the General Authority for Comprehensive Health Insurance, Assistant Minister for Economic Justice, highlighted the Egyptian governments keenness to cooperate with development partners in implementing integrated health coverage. For its part, the delegation of the Japanese International Cooperation Authority praised the efforts of the Egyptian government to continue expanding the comprehensive health insurance umbrella, stressing its keenness to provide all support for this project, and to transfer the Japanese experience in developing the health system to Egypt. The agreement was signed in the presence of the Japanese ambassador in Cairo, Oka Hiroshi, Shino Masao, chief representative of the JICA office in Egypt, Hossam Hussein, advisor to the minister for foreign relations, Mai Farid, assistant minister for economic justice, and Doaa Hamdy, head of the foreign relations unit.

[Category: Business, JICA]

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[l] at 3/29/23 8:11am
It has been 20 years since the United States invaded Iraq. There are generations of young people who do not know the details of what happened in that dark period in the Middle East, which led Iraq that great rich country to the disintegration it suffers from now. After the September 11 attacks by al-Qaeda on the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon in Washington, the administration of President George W. Bush began making plans to invade Iraq. President Bush claimed at the time that Saddam was stockpiling and manufacturing weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq was part of the international axis of evil along with Iran and North Korea. Based on this controversial hypothesis, which is not supported by evidence at all, the US Congress in October 2022 authorized the use of military force against Iraq. Many in Washington at the time believed that there was significant evidence that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction and that it posed a real threat. Confirming these US allegations, US Secretary of State Colin Powell asked in February 2003 for the United Nations Security Council to give the green light to take military action against Iraq, stressing that Iraq violates previous Security Council resolutions because it possesses weapons of mass destruction program. However, the council was not convinced, as most members wanted weapons inspectors from the United Nations and the International Energy Agency to provide documented reports. But the United States said it would not wait for the inspectors report and formed what was called at the time a coalition of the willing against Iraq. Of the 30 countries in the Western Alliance, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Poland participated in the invasion. The United Kingdom sent 45,000 soldiers, Australia sent 2,000 soldiers, and Poland sent 194 special forces personnel. This is in addition to many Eastern European countries in the Vilnius group, which said they believe that Iraq has a program of weapons of mass destruction and violates United Nations resolutions. Despite this insistence by the United States and its success in convincing many other countries such as Britain, many countries rejected military action against Iraq, considering it the worst possible solution. Examples of these countries are Canada, Mexico, Germany, and France. Turkey, a NATO member, and neighbor of Iraq, also refused to allow the United States and its allies to use its air bases. Saudi Arabia also refused to support the United States in the invasion of Iraq. Despite all this opposition and the lack of conclusive evidence of the existence of weapons of mass destruction, the United States and its allies invaded Iraq at dawn on 20 March 2003, with a military operation they called Iraqi Freedom. Indeed, the forces managed to defeat the Iraqi army and overthrow the regime of Saddam Hussein, who was later tried and executed. It is worth noting here that the execution of Saddam Hussein was a violation of the feelings of the Islamic nation, as he was executed on the first day of the holy Feast. Certainly, this war was enough to destroy Iraq. In the aftermath of this invasion, sectarian violence swept the country in 2004 and then turned into a vicious civil war between Iraqs Sunni and Shiite factions. More importantly, the American forces refused to leave Iraq, claiming that they were preparing this country for democratic transition. Under this imaginary American tutelage, all the resources of this rich country were controlled, especially oil. The American forces did not leave Iraq until 2011, and no weapons of mass destruction were found, nor did the desired democratic transition take place in Iraq. Moreover, Colin Powell himself later stated that the reports on the presence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq were wrong.  In the end, it turned out that the war that cost hundreds of thousands of victims and plunged the Middle East into chaos was built on lies. After all these years have passed, it became clear that the main objective of this war was to enable the United States of America to control the region and its resources and to secure political systems that suit its interests and values under the pretense of trying to establish a democratic system in the Middle East. Today, twenty years later, the picture is clearer than ever. The US invasion greatly devastated Iraq, killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, destabilized the Middle East, and empowered terrorist groups such as the Islamic State. To this day, this oil-rich country is still grappling with suffocating political and economic problems. The governments that came to power since the fall of Saddam Husseins regime in 2003 have failed to build a strong economy, despite the enormous natural resources that Baghdad possesses. The United States also failed to establish real democracy, good governance, peaceful rotation of power, or even fight corruption. On the other hand, the United States of America talks about the heavy losses it suffered as a result of this war. The focus is always on this point as if the war was really for the benefit of the Middle East. But here in the Middle East, as ordinary citizens, we have a lot of critical comments and doubts. For example, no one knows until now the size of the quantities of oil that the American forces transported from the fields of Iraq to the locations of the strategic reserves of oil in America. No one knows the extent to which America has benefited over the past seven years from the Iraqi oil reserves. Even the huge reserves of oil that the world was talking about in the Iraqi lands, we do not hear about it now. These critical comments make us wonder if the United States of America really lost all these trillions for nothing. There must be unannounced gains, especially since the war from the beginning was nothing but a lie fabricated by the United States of America. Dr. Marwa El-Shinawy: Assistant Prof. at International American University for Specialized Studies (IAUS)

[Category: Politics, Opinion, dollar, Iraq, US]

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