22 Sep 2020

State Banks Stop Issuing Annual 15% CDs, in Line With IMF Program

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National Bank of Egypt (NBE) and Banque Misr have decided to stop issuing annual certificates of deposit (CDs) at interest rates of 15 percent for a year starting Monday, in line with an International Monetary Fund (IMF) program.

NBE has raised about EGP 280 billion (17.8 billion) from its 15-percent CDs since the bank started issuing them in March. Recently bought CDs will continue to yield the same interest until their maturity dates, said NBE Chairman Hisham Okasha.

Banque Misr Vice Chairman Akef El-Maghraby said in a statement to Hapi that the bank had decided to stop issuing its Ibn Misr CDs, which gave a standard interest of 15 percent.

Proceeds to Banque Misr from the CDs reached EGP 103 billion ($6.5 billion) since the bank started issuing them in March, he added.

Meanwhile, National Investment Bank (NIB) yesterday decided to reduce the yields offered on its investment certificates issued by NBE and Banque Misr.

Yields on type B investment certificates, which are issued to individuals, were reduced from 13 percent to 10.25 percent for one-year certificates, from 14 percent to 10.5 percent for two-year certificates, and from 12.5 percent to 10 percent for three-year certificates.

Yields on 10-year type A certificates, which are issued to both individuals and corporates, were reduced to from 10.75 percent to 10.25 percent of compound interest, while yields on three-year type D certificates, which are issued to corporates only, were reduced from 11.25 percent to 10.75 percent.

Ahmed El-Safty, head of Delta Research Center, told Delta Digest in an interview that the decrease in CDs would have little or no effect on the exchange rate.

El-Safty said that the step comes in accordance with Egypt's new program with the IMF, which includes directives to rely more on long-term investments rather than short-term government securities.

"This is one of the goals of the fund's program: to extend the maturity of public debt [instruments], in particular with regard to foreign currency debt, through transferring our dependence from short-term government securities, like T-bills, to depend more on long-term [instruments]," El-Safty said.

"Long-term investments will not suddenly be affected by decreasing the interest rates," he added.

Suffering from economic repercussions of the coronavirus, Egypt has reached an agreement with the IMF over a one-year, $5.2 billion Stand-By Agreement (SBA) loan to Egypt.

Under the conditional agreement, Egypt needs to resume structural reforms, such as reducing barriers to competition and reforming fiscal policy through cutting public debt.

Egypt also took an IMF Rapid Financing Instrument (RFI) worth $2.8 billion in May for the immediate response to the COVID-19 crisis.


Trimming NIB Investment Certificate Yields Will Not Impact CBE's Monetary Policy Decision: Analyst

The head of Pharos Research has said that National Investment Bank (NIB) reducing yields on some of its investment certificates, and National Bank of Egypt (NBE) and Banque Misr suspending the issuance of certificates of deposit (CDs), will have no impact on the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE)'s monetary policy decision in its Thursday meeting.

Radwa El-Swaify said that NIB’s decision to trim the yields on its investment certificates was due to the suspension of a tax exemption on its treasury bills and bonds, leading the bank to incur a 20 percent tax.

El-Swaify said that though the CBE has room to cut interest rates due to the rise in real interest rates, it will most likely keep them unchanged, deferring a cut until the economic outlook becomes more stable in regard to foreign currency inflows to Egypt.

She added that, in the meantime, a high real interest rates bodes well for preventing dollarization.

NIB yesterday decided to reduce the yields offered on its investment certificates issued by NBE and Banque Misr.

In addition, NBE and Banque Misr stopped selling the 15 percent yield CDs that they begin issuing in March.

Egypt Imposes VAT on Facebook, YouTube Ads

Egypt has imposed value-added tax (VAT) on ads placed on Facebook, YouTube and similar other platforms, according to a recent decision by the Egyptian Tax Authority.

A document by the the Egyptian Tax Authority, which was reported by local media yesterday, explicitly mentions both websites as an example of online platforms on which ads will be subjected to vat.

Oil Prices Drop 5% Amid Demand Worries as Coronavirus Infection Rates Increase

Oil prices edged down 5 percent on Monday due to weakened demand amid a flare-up of coronavirus cases around the world.

International benchmark Brent oil dropped $1.71, or 3.96 percent, to settle at $41.44 a barrel, while US West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude lost $1.80, or 4.38 percent, to close at $39.31 a barrel.

"We're seeing more depressing news on jet fuel demand,” said Gary Cunningham, director of market research at Tradition Energy in Stamford, Connecticut. "We're looking for a much softer market. The economic picture doesn’t look as rosy as it did before."

More than 31 million people have been infected by the pandemic, a Reuters tally showed. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was on Monday considering a second national lockdown, while case numbers in Spain and France have also jumped.

USD Strengthens Due to Weak Stock Market Performance

The US dollar index, which measures the dollar's value against a basket of currencies, jumped 0.64 percent to 93.555 on Monday, as investors sought an alternative in the greenback following a drop in global stock markets over fears of lockdowns being reimposed amid a surge in coronavirus cases.

The euro declined 0.8 percent against the dollar to trade at $1.1743, the pound sterling dropped 0.9 percent to trade at $1.28 and the Australian dollar dipped 1.2 percent to trade at $0.7204.

Meanwhile, spot gold fell 2.1 percent to $1,909.05 per ounce, after losing as much as 3.4 percent earlier in the session to hit its lowest value since August 12, while US gold futures closed 2.6 percent down at $1,910.60.

Silver dipped 8.3 percent to hit its lowest in over a month at $24.53.

Global GDP Expected to Rebound to Pre-Pandemic Levels in Mid-2021: Deutsche Bank

Global GDP will recover and return to its pre-pandemic level by the middle of next year, Deutsche Bank has said.

"As Q3 draws toward a close, we estimate that the level of global GDP is about half way back to its pre-virus level, and we now see that journey being completed by the middle of next year, a couple quarters sooner than in our previous forecast," Peter Hooper, Deutsche Bank's global head of economic research, wrote in a note to clients.

The bank now expects GDP to shrink 3.9 percent in 2020, revising down an earlier prediction for a 5.9 percent contraction. It also raised its growth forecast for 2021, to 5.6 percent from 5.3 percent.

The new estimates come after a strong economic bounce in recent months.

"The bounce back in economic activity in recent months from its March-April plunge has been more robust than we had anticipated," the note read.

Hooper added that there was also a lot of uncertainty and potential trouble ahead, as bloated debt levels could heighten the risk of a financial crisis.

"The expansion of debt and potential overvaluation of assets that has been fed by necessarily super easy monetary policy poses the serious risk of a looming global financial crisis as central banks begin to shift away from easy policy," he said.

Stock Market

Global Banks See Shares Plunge Amid Fresh FinCen Scandal

Global banks saw shares plunge on Monday amid a fresh scandal involving the transfer of $2 trillion of allegedly illicit funds over two decades. 

Britain-based HSBC, Standard Chartered and Barclays, Germany's Deutsche Bank and Commerzbank, JPMorgan Chase & Co and Bank of New York Mellon Corp were among prominent lenders in the scandal reported by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) and BuzzFeed News. 

HSBC and Standard Chartered saw shares fall to their lowest in up to 25 years, yet shielded better than other banks amid a wider selloff in global stocks. 

HSBC saw a historic fall in its shares by as much as 6 percent.

Standard Chartered, which dropped by 5 percent, pointed at recent investments aimed to enhance its control measures.

Files from the US treasury department Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCen) show more than $2 trillion of transactions that were monitored by financial institutions' internal compliance departments for money laundering or other illegal activity between 1999 and 2017.

Germany's Deutsche Bank, which is believed to be involved in the largest number of suspicious activity reports (SAR), plunged by more than eight percent on Monday morning. 

The bank said the issues brought to light were "historic," while Germany's finance ministry said that any cases linked to the country had already been concluded. 

JPMorgan and Bank of New York Mellon shares dropped 2.6 percent and 2 percent, respectively.

Egyptian Stocks End in Red; EGX30 Slips 0.54%

Egyptian stocks ended Monday's trading in red, continuing a weak performance since the end of last week.

The benchmark EGX30 index dropped 0.54 percent to 10,910.37 points, amid a turnover of EGP 681.8 million ($43.3 million).

Market bellwether Commercial International Bank (CIB) saw its share price gain 0.39 percent to EGP 67 ($4.26).

The majority of listed shares ended trading on Monday with losses, with the worst performers including GB Auto, which plunged 4.83 percent to EGP 2.52 ($0.16), Beltone Financial Holding, which dropped 4 percent to EGP 2.79, and Pioneers Holding, down 3.64 percent to EGP 3.90.

Other index companies ending the day with losses included Ibnsina Pharma, down 3.18 percent to EGP 7.20 ($0.46), Juhayna Food Industries, which dropped 3.09 percent to EGP 6.51, and Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals, which lost 3.01 percent to EGP 8.

Top performing stocks included Egyptian Iron and Steel, which rose 9.62 percent to EGP 3.20 ($0.20), continuing consecutive gains over the announcement of a planned separation of mining and quarrying from the company's activities through the establishment of a joint venture.

Gaining index stocks included Dice Sport and Casual Wear, up 0.91 percent to EGP 1.63 ($0.10), Talaat Moustafa Group, which gained 0.32 percent to EGP 6.28, and Orascom Development Egypt (ODE), which gained 0.24 percent to EGP 4.05.

The broader EGX70 EWI index dipped 0.7 percent to close at 1,958.79 points, while the EGX100 EWI dropped 0.82 percent, closing at 2,841.19 points.

Arab and Egyptian investors were net buyers to the tune of EGP 15.2 million ($966,251) and EGP 14.6 million, respectively, while sales by foreign investors amounted to EGP 29.8 million.

Nile Cotton Ginning Offers 91.75% Stake So Far for Sale to IMEX International

A total of 48.6 million shares, or 91.75 percent, of Nile Cotton Ginning Company had been offered for sale by the end of yesterday's trading session in response to the buyout proposal submitted by IMEX International, local media outlets reported citing sources at the financial advisory firm EgyTrend.

Earlier this month, Nile Cotton Ginning's board said that the acquisition offer submitted by IMEX International to acquire a majority stake in the company of between 51 percent and all of its shares had come in too low.

IMEX International submitted the acquisition offer on September 8, offering a price of EGP 50 ($3.18) per share.

IMEX International has until Thursday to finalize the deal.

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Ibtikar Appoints EFG Hermes to Study Alternatives to IPO

Ibtikar for Investment Finance's board of directors has appointed EFG Hermes investment bank to study strategic alternatives to floating its shares or those of one of its subsidiaries.

MM Group for Industry and International Trade (MTI) and B Investments, which respectively own 49.9 percent and 20.3 percent of Ibtikar, disclosed the decision on Monday.

Last month, MTI appointed EFG Hermes to manage the offering of its electronic payment services sector on the Egyptian Exchange.

MTI Investor Relations Manager Ashraf El-Ghanem said that all alternatives were on the table in light of the growth in the electronic payments sector due to the coronavirus and Ibtikar subsidiaries' large market share. 

Founded in 2017, Ibtikar works in investing in non-banking financial services.

MTI recorded profits of EGP 210 million ($13.3 million) during the first half of this year, in comparison with profits of EGP 265.5 million in the same period last year.


FRA Approves Ahli United Bank, Strategia Investment Offer to Acquire Bank's Egyptian Branch

The Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) has approved a purchase offer submitted by Bahrain's Ahli United Bank and Egyptian investment firm Strategia Investment to acquire the bank's Egyptian unit, according to an Egyptian Exchange (EGX) disclosure yesterday.

Bahrain's Ahli United Bank submitted an offer to acquire foreign shareholders' stake in the bank, representing 14.37 percent or 43.09 million shares.

Strategia Investment submitted an offer to acquire Egyptian shareholders' stake in the bank, amounting to 0.15 percent or 447,691 shares.

The Bahraini bank itself has seen acquisition bids, with Kuwait Finance House eyeing an acquisition in what would be the Gulf’s first and most important cross-border bank merger in recent years.

However, the process was delayed to December over difficulties attributed to the coronavirus outbreak.

Emaar Properties Seeks More Investment Projects in Egypt

The chairman of Emirati firm Emaar Properties, Mohamed Alabbar, has said that he is searching for investment opportunities in several areas in Egypt, including the New Administrative Capital and 6 October City, adding that the Egyptian real estate sector is the best performing among Arab markets despite the coronavirus crisis.

Alabbar said that talks are ongoing regarding the company's future projects in Egypt.

"There are a lot of proposed ideas ... the government's work in the New Administrative Capital is brilliant, the private sector cannot do what the government has done," Alabbar told Al Arabiya TV channel.

Meanwhile, Emaar Misr for Development's board of directors has agreed to donate EGP 20 million ($1.2 million) to the Tahya Misr (Long Live Egypt) Fund.

Emaar Misr said that the donation comes as part of cooperation with the Tahya Misr Fund to replace and renovate a school and a hospital in the village of Sidi Abd El-Rahman near El-Alamein.

The company also donated EGP 50 million ($3.1 million) to support the Egyptian government and the Misr El Kheir Foundation (MEK) in facing the repercussions of the coronavirus.

Second Edition of EFG Hermes Virtual Investment Conference Begins

The second edition of the EFG Hermes Virtual Investment Conference, in which major companies and international investors are participating, began on Monday and will continue until October 1.

The conference will take place on an interactive digital platform managed by EFG Hermes, where executive representatives of 157 companies from 25 countries will hold face-to-face meetings and exchange ideas with more than 650 international investors from financial institutions.

The second edition of the digital conference comes after the success of its first run in June, reflected in an increased turnout from major investors and prominent financial institutions, as well as the addition of more companies operating in the most important and vital economic sectors in emerging markets around the world.

Export Council for Chemical Industries Partners With Egyptian Commercial Service to Market Products Online

The Export Council for Chemical Industries and Fertilizers has partnered with the Egyptian Commercial Service (ECS) to market products online and increase exports, council head Khaled Abou El Makarem said yesterday.

Aboul El Makarem added that about 20 percent of export subsidy arrears are to be disbursed next month.

Meanwhile, the Engineering Export Council of Egypt (EECE) yesterday said that it aims to increase the sector’s exports to the African market by 40 percent during 2020 and 2021.

It added that exports to Africa of household appliances and electrical devices amount to $450 million annually.

Abou El Makarem said on Sunday that the chemical industries and fertilizer sector's total exports during the first seven months of the year amounted to about $2.9 billion, compared with $3.4 billion during the same period last year, a decline of 15 percent.

He said that, in light of the current stability of production in the country and foreign trade conditions, the sector's exports are expected to reach $5 billion by the end of the year.

Huawei Appoints New President for Cloud, AI Business Group in Mideast

Chinese multinational technology company Huawei has appointed Li Shi as president of the Huawei Cloud and AI Business Group in the Middle East. 

The company said it appointed Shi to aid in fulfilling an increasing demand for cloud and artificial intelligence technologies in the Middle East.

Shi will be responsible for overseeing the group's product and solution portfolio. He will also work on giving Huawei's customers terminal-edge-cloud solutions and services.

Prior to being appointed, Shi was the CEO of Huawei UAE.

Shell to Cut Oil, Gas Production Costs by 40% to Move Into Renewable Energy Market

British-Dutch multinational oil and gas company Royal Dutch Shell is seeking to decrease the costs of its oil and gas production by 40 percent, as part of the company's plan to move into the renewable energy market. 

This comes as part of Shell's cost-cutting review, Project Reshape, which is expected to be completed this year. 

Several oil and gas companies, including Total and BP, are making the shift to renewable energy as studies indicate that the world is going green and the renewables market is becoming competitive. 

Recent reports indicate that oil demand could have hit its all-time high in 2019. Demand is expected to increase as the world recovers from the consequences of the coronavirus but may never again reach prior levels, particularly as road transportation makes the switch to electric. 

Microsoft Acquires Games Company Bethesda for $7.5 Bn

Xbox owner Microsoft has acquired games company Bethesda for $7.5 billion.

Bethesda is the creator of the games Doom, Fallout, Skyrim and Wolfenstein.

Bethesda games will be added to Xbox’s Game Pass subscription package for consoles and PCs. Game Pass already gives players access to more than 200 games.

This could help make the Xbox Series X, set to be launched in November, more attractive to users.

Xbox chief Phil Spencer said the two companies "shared similar visions for the opportunities for creators and their games to reach more players in more ways."

It is not yet clear how the takeover will affect Bethesda's plans to create several as yet unfinished games as cross-platform titles.

Microsoft will now own game titles at point of launch, in addition to the id Tech games engine developed by id Software.

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(Courtesy of PayMint website)

PayMint Becomes First Start-Up in Egypt to Obtain License for KYC Services

E-payment start-up PayMint has become the first start-up in Egypt to gain a license from the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to offer know your customer (KYC) services, for customers of state-owned National Bank of Egypt (NBE).

Fawry Plus, a subsidiary of Fawry, is currently the only company in Egypt to offer KYC services.

Per the license, PayMint will be allowed to issue pre-paid cards for NBE customers on behalf of the bank, PayMint CEO Mohamed Rabie said, adding that other banks could be added but that a new license would be required for each bank.

PayMint was established in 2019. It aims to facilitate access to financial services for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) across Egypt.

Egypt News

Egypt to Reduce Fees to Acquire Units in Industrial Complexes

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has directed the facilitation of contracting procedures to acquire units in industrial complexes, including canceling and reducing some related fees.

The president said that the move aims to back small and medium-sized young investors and provide job opportunities.

El-Sisi’s remarks came in a meeting yesterday with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Trade Minister Nevine Gamea.

El-Sisi also directed that all possible support be provided to enhance the movement of Egyptian exports in African markets.

Egypt Announces Kenya's Suspension of Recently Imposed Export Tariffs

Egypt on Monday announced the suspension of recent tariffs imposed by Kenya -- in violation of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) agreement -- on Egyptian exports.

According to an official statement, Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Nevine Gamea said that the ministry’s Egyptian Commercial Service (ECS) had held extensive calls with the East African Federation (EAF) to approve a granted customs exemption on exports to Kenya, Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and COMESA member states till June 2021.

Earlier this month, Kenya began imposing 25 percent tariffs on imports from Egypt, affecting Egyptian exporters in what they described as a “unilateral” decision that lead to the idling of Egyptian containers at Kenya’s Mombasa port.

Kenya argued that it was no longer applying the free trade rules associated with shared membership in COMESA.

Gamea said that the ECS had been closely following developments related to the Kenyan decision, coordinating with various governmental and non-governmental groups to urge the Kenyan authorities to commit to tariff reductions under the COMESA agreement.

Egypt Extends Working Hours to Process Reconciliation Requests for Building Violations in New Cities

Egypt has extended working hours to 5pm in offices that process reconciliation requests for building violations in new cities, Housing Minister Assem Al-Gazzar said yesterday.

He added that the offices will also be operational on Fridays and Saturdays until 3pm.

The minister emphasized that all submitted reconciliation requests will be accepted, leaving the final decision to the relevant committees.

The deadline to submit reconciliation requests is September 30, Al-Gazzar said.

Last Tuesday, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly directed governors to increase staffing levels and working hours in the offices that process requests, with the aim of accommodating applicants and facilitating procedures.

Local Development Minister Mahmoud Shaarawy said that a work schedule had been sent to governorates to create two work shifts to receive all reconciliation requests. 

The government has so far received 1.1 million reconciliation requests for building violations, amounting to EGP 6.9 billion ($437.8 million). 

It recently facilitated the process by announcing the price of reconciliation in all rural areas at EGP 50 per meter, as well as an initiative to deduct 25 percent discount if the payment is made in full, instead of in installments.

Last week, Egypt offered discounts of between 15 to 25 percent on reconciliation fees for building violations in new cities.

Earlier this month, Al-Gazzar said that Egypt is set to establish a digital system to monitor and follow up on building violations in new cities.

The new cities fall under the authority of the New Urban Communities Authority (NUCA).

2,500-Year-Old Sarcophagi Discovered in Egypt

Egyptian archaeologists have discovered 27 coffins estimated to be about 2,500 years old in the ancient necropolis of Saqqara, a burial area that also includes one of the oldest pyramids in the world, the tourism ministry said yesterday.

The ministry added that the wooden coffins were painted with colorful decorations and covered with hieroglyphs, and were found stacked in two burial shafts.

The coffins had not yet been opened, the ministry said.

Last week, Egypt discovered a crypt filled with coffins beneath Djoser pyramid.

Earlier this month, a group of at least 13 sealed coffins in pristine condition were discovered in Saqqara.

Egypt's Senate Set to Hold First Convocation Within 2 Weeks: Minister

Egypt's newly elected senate is set to hold its first convocation by October 1 at the latest, Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Alaa Fouad said on Monday, according to Ahram Online. 

"The newly elected senate will be ready to hold its opening session once the president of the republic's decree on naming 100 appointees is declared," Fouad said. 

His statements come one day after the new legislative body's acting secretary general, Mahmoud Ismail, said that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi is set to name the remaining hundred senate members within days. 

The National Unified List, a pro-government coalition led by the Mostaqbal Watan party, secured a majority of seats in the individual and closed-list systems in the August elections for the new body. 

It also secured a majority of seats in the run-offs. 

The newly created second chamber has 300 seats, two-thirds of which are filled by members elected via individual and closed list systems, with the rest appointed by the president. 

Fouad also revealed that the current parliament is set to serve a sixth legislative term ahead of the end of its tenure, which will end on January 9, 2021. 

He said that MPs will review several new bills drafted and referred to them by the government, including on unified planning and value-added tax (VAT). 

Egyptian Drug Authority Launches Online Platform for Reporting Adverse Drug Reactions

The Egyptian Drug Authority (EDA) has announced the creation of a new electronic platform for reporting adverse drug reactions in cooperation with the Uppsala Monitoring Center (UMC), which specializes in collecting data on adverse drug reactions worldwide.

The EDA's Pharmaceutical Vigilance Center, which was established in 2009, has been responsible for collecting, evaluating and analyzing information on the safety of pharmaceutical products in the Egyptian market, and in particular adverse reactions to drugs, said EDA Spokesperson Aly El-Ghamrawy.

Yassin Ragae, head of the EDA’s pharmaceutical care sector, said that the authority’s successful strategies had contributed to placing Egypt on the global map for the practice of pharmacovigilance, and had helped Egypt participate as a member of the World Health Organization (WHO) Programme for International Drug Monitoring. 

The online link of the platform has been placed on the authority's website to facilitate reporting of adverse reactions.

The EDA called on health care service providers to send all problems related to drug use, including adverse reactions, lack of drug efficacy, overdoses, misuse, treatment errors and unauthorized use at the following link: https://bit.ly/35JJqhj.

Egypt Implements Projects Worth $305 Mn in N Sinai From 2018 to 2020: Governor

Egypt has implemented 146 projects worth EGP 4.8 billion ($305.20 million) in North Sinai from 2018 to 2020, said the governor in a cabinet meeting yesterday.

Mohamed Abdel Fadil Shousha pointed out that during this period, a total of 2,608 residential units were built at a cost of EGP 400 million ($25.43 million), in addition to the renovation of 26 buildings, among other development projects.

Government investments allocated for North Sinai and South Sinai amount to EGP 8.22 billion ($514.8 million) in the 2020/2021 fiscal year -- a 57.3 percent year-on-year increase in both governorates' investments .

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GAFI CEO Mohamed Abdel Wahab meets Rwanda’s Ambassador to Cairo Alfred Kalisa (courtesy of GAFI)

Egypt, Rwanda Approve Bolstering Cooperation in Managing Free Zones

Egypt and Rwanda have approved bolstering cooperation in the management of free zones, and are considering cooperating in other investment opportunities. 

According to an official statement, Mohamed Abdel Wahab, CEO of Egypt's General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI), received Rwanda's Ambassador to Cairo Alfred Kalisa, where they discussed cooperation in various fields including the management of free zones.

Both sides agreed to organize official visits from Rwandan delegations to familiarize themselves with GAFI’s long-standing experience in managing free zones. 

Kalisa presented developments in his country's growing investment climate under Rwanda’s Vision 2020, a development strategy launched by the government in 2000. 

The ambassador said Rwanda was aiming to attract diverse Egyptian investments, praising GAFI’s role in facilitating investment procedures. 

Abdel Wahab stressed the importance of coordinating with Rwanda's embassy in Egypt to encourage Egyptian companies to mull investment opportunities in the country.

Egypt Discusses Mutual Challenges With EU

Egyptian Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry received a phone call from European Commissioner for Neighbourhood and Enlargement Oliver Varhelyi, to discuss enhancing cooperation between Egypt and the EU in various fields.

Ahmed Hafez, official spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that the two officials emphasized the strategic relations between Egypt and the EU, and the need to maximize the benefits of the EU-Egypt Association Agreement to enhance development and economic cooperation.

Shoukry said Egypt was seeking European investment in the Egyptian market -- encouraging European companies and investment institutions to increase the volume of their projects in the country -- and facilitating the entry of more Egyptian exports to the European market.

Egypt Reports 126 New Coronavirus Cases, 17 Deaths

Egypt on Monday reported 126 new coronavirus cases, bringing the country’s total infections tally since the outbreak in mid-February to 102,141.

According to an official statement, the health ministry also reported 17 new deaths from the virus for a total death toll of 5,787.

Some 800 newly recovered patients have been discharged from hospitals in the past 24 hours, bringing total recoveries in the country to 90,332.

The statement came hours after health ministry data showed recoveries nationwide rising to 87.7 percent after reaching 89,532 cases on Sunday.


US Imposes Fresh Sanctions on Iran; Tehran Describes Move as Publicity Stunt

The US imposed on Monday fresh sanctions on Iran over its nuclear program, with Tehran describing the move as a publicity stunt.

The latest sanctions are targeting 27 Iranian bodies and people in the nuclear, missile and conventional arms sectors, including the defense ministry.

The stimulus for the US move is the near expiry of a UN arms embargo on Iran. The move also acts as a warning to the international community that purchasing or selling arms to Iran would results in sanctions.

The UN conventional arms embargo is to expire on 18 October, pursuant to the 2015 nuclear deal Iran signed with six major powers, including the US, few weeks before the US presidential elections on 3 November.

"No matter who you are, if you violate the UN arms embargo on Iran, you risk sanctions," Pompeo said in a press conference.

Iran's foreign minister Mohammad Javad Zarif described the announcement by the US as "nothing new."

"The United States has exerted all the pressure it could on Iran. It had hoped that these sanctions will bring our people into their knee. It did not," Zarif said.

Turkey Will Continue to Support Libya's GNA Despite Sarraj's Resignation

Turkey's support to Libyan Prime Minister Fayez Al-Sarraj’s Government of National Accord (GNA) will continue, as will its bilateral agreements and cooperation with Libya, despite Al-Sarraj's desire to hand over his duties by the end of October, Turkish Presidential Spokesman Ibrahim Kalin was quoted as saying by Reuters.

Turkish military units in June helped Al-Sarraj's GNA repel an assault on Tripoli by Khalifa Haftar's Libyan National Army (LNA), which Egypt supports.

"These accords will not be impacted by this political period because these are decisions made by the government, not by any individual," Kalin told Demiroren News Agency.

Kalin said that Turkish officials may travel to Tripoli "in the coming days" to discuss developments.

President Tayyip Erdogan has said that Turkey was upset by Al-Sarraj's resignation, which he announced in a televised speech last week.

Al-Sarraj and rival eastern commander Khalifa Haftar will be asked to agree on a new presidential council structure to unify the two administrations and plan elections, Bloomberg reported last week.

The rival administrations agreed in talks held in Switzerland earlier this month to hold elections within a year and a half and restructure the cabinet.

The talks also resulted in a step towards restarting oil production, which Haftar has kept closed since January.

Jordan's Muslim Brotherhood to Take Part in Parliamentary Elections

The Muslim Brotherhood's political arm has said that it plans on taking part in Jordan's parliamentary elections in November.

Jordan's Islamic political party, the Islamic Action Front, holds 16 seats in the current legislature.

"The Shura Council of the Islamic Action Front Party decided to participate in the upcoming parliamentary elections for the nineteenth council. The Islamic movement is exposed to clear targeting and vigorous attempts to undermine it because of its patriotic roles and its benevolent efforts," the Islamic Action Front said in a statement. 

Virus Roundup: WHO Says No Change to COVID-19 Transmission Guidance After Accidentally Published US Draft Claims Virus Is Airborne

The World Health Organization (WHO) yesterday said that it has not changed its policy on aerosol transmission of the pandemic, after US health officials accidentally published draft new guidance warning that the virus can spread through airborne particles.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands yesterday announced that new coronavirus cases in the country had topped 2,000 for the first time.

Australia on Monday reported its lowest daily increase in new coronavirus infections in more than three months, with just 14 cases.

In related news, Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis nominated a top epidemiologist to become health minister on Monday after the previous minister quit over a surge in COVID-19 infections.

New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern on Monday lifted all coronavirus restrictions across the country except in second-wave hotspot Auckland.

Meanwhile, Britain will face exponential growth in its death rate from the pandemic in coming weeks unless strict measures are applied to prevent a rapidly spreading second wave of the outbreak, the country's senior medics said on Monday.

Britain's top medical advisers yesterday warned at a public briefing that the country is expected to face a very challenging winter due to the pandemic.

The number of new coronavirus infections in Iran has risen by 3,341 cases in the past 24 hours, the country’s highest daily tally since early June.

The US reported at least 25,479 new coronavirus cases yesterday, bringing the country's total infections to 7,030,247, including 204,339 fatalities.

Elsewhere, France detected 5,298 new COVID-19 infections on Monday, with 458,061 total confirmed cases so far, and 31,338 deaths.

India reported 74,493 new coronavirus cases yesterday, while Russia detected 6,196 new cases.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases worldwide has now reached 31,421,007, with more than 967,650 deaths.

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NASDAQ-100 10,778.80 -0.13%
S&P 500 3,281.06 -1.16%
UK FTSE 100 5,804.29 -3.38%
Germany DAX 12,542.44 -4.37%
France CAC 40 4,792.04 -3.74%
Japan Nikkei 225 23,360.30 +0.18%
China HANG SENG INDEX 23,835.41 -0.48%
US Dollar 15.68 15.78
Euro 18.45 18.56
Sterling 20.15 20.27
Saudi Riyal 4.18 4.21
UAE Dirham 4.27 4.30
Kuwaiti Dinar 51.29 51.63
Swiss Franc 17.15 17.27
Oil Brent USD/bbl. 41.63 +0.46%
Wheat USD/bu.Mar 2020 557.75 +0.54%
Gold USD/t oz. 1,912.54 +0.00%
Gold Egypt LE/ oz. 1,912.02 -0.04%
Silver Egypt LE/ oz. 24.69 -0.29%

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