Below please find a summary of news you may have missed in the last week about Egypt, the Egypt-U.S. partnership, and other relevant issues. In this issue:
- 2018 Presidential Elections to Be Held in March, Run-Offs in April
- Defense Ministry Officials Discuss Counter-Terrorism Cooperation with Us Delegation
- Egyptian Christian Clerics Praise Decision to Allow Worship at Unlicensed Churches
- Parliament Approves Bankruptcy Law to Help Improve Investment Climate
- World Bank Expects Egypt’s Growth Rate to Hit 4.5%
- Egypt’s Monthly Inflation Rate at Lowest Level Since November 2015
- President El Sisi Receives Citizens’ Questions on “Ask the President” Website
- Egypt Officially Applies for COMESA Secretary-General Post
We hope you enjoy. Please let us know if the Embassy can be a resource.
2018 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS TO BE HELD IN MARCH, RUN-OFFS IN APRIL
Egypt’s National Elections Authority (NEA) announced this week that voting in the 2018 presidential elections will begin in March. The NEA is set to receive requests for candidacy nominations from 20 January till 29 January in its headquarters in downtown Cairo, with the official list of candidates to be announced on 23 February. Elections nationwide are set to run from 26 – 28 March, and in the case of no run-offs, the winner of the elections will be announced on 2 April.
DEFENSE MINISTRY OFFICIALS DISCUSS COUNTER-TERRORISM COOPERATION WITH US DELEGATION
Assistant U.S. Secretary of Defense for International Security Robert Karem and Air Marshal Younis al Masri, Chief of the Egyptian Air Force, co-hosted the Military Cooperation Committee (MCC) meeting from 8 – 9 January. The MCC is the premier bilateral forum for planning and coordinating security cooperation strategy between Egypt and the United States. At the meeting, the two countries further strengthened the strategic partnership between their two militaries, and defined the priorities for facing mutual security challenges, such as the threat of terrorism and violent extremism. According to a release issued by the US Embassy in Cairo, Major General Ralph Groover, the Senior Defense Official and Defense Attaché at the U.S. Embassy Cairo said “this week’s meeting is a clear demonstration of the enduring U.S. – Egyptian relationship. Together, we have forged a clear path for our security cooperation over the coming years, and I look forward to enhancing the military partnership with Egypt.” Assistant Secretary Karem also met with Egyptian Defense Minister Major-General Sidqi Sobhi, where they discussed bilateral cooperation.
EGYPTIAN CHRISTIAN CLERICS PRAISE DECISION TO ALLOW WORSHIP AT UNLICENSED CHURCHES
Ahram Online reports that Egyptian Christian clerics praised a recent decision to allow worship at unlicensed churches pending formal their formal recognition. Karim Kamal, a Coptic political researcher and president of Copts for the Nation, described the decision as a positive step towards implementing the 2016 law on building churches, saying that “the issue of unlicensed churches is not a problem from the state, governors, the ministry of interior or housing,” arguing that this is evident from the efforts by the Armed Forces to restore churches that were torched in the wake of the 30 June revolution in 2013.
PARLIAMENT APPROVES BANKRUPTCY LAW TO HELP IMPROVE INVESTMENT CLIMATE
This week, the Egyptian parliament approved Egypt’s first bankruptcy law. The law will regulate debt restructuring, preventive composition and bankruptcy, and seeks to simplify procedures guaranteeing safe exit for companies that go bankrupt, with a possibility for integrating businesses back into the market through debt restructuring. Investment and International Cooperation Minister Sahar Nasrheralded the new law, saying that it would “improve the investment climate” and that it “comes within the framework of integration with the investment law.” Nasr also expects the new law to improve Egypt’s ranking in the World Bank’s Doing Business report.
WORLD BANK EXPECTS EGYPT’S GROWTH RATE TO HIT 4.5%
According to a report issued by the World Bank, Egypt’s growth rate is expected to reach 4.5 percent in FY 2018 amid ongoing reforms and as the improved business climate provides further impetus to industrial activity and exports. The report further noted that devaluation of the currency had a positive impact on competitiveness in Egypt, contributing to strong industrial production, investment and exports in the second half of the current fiscal year. The report also estimates Egypt’s growth rate is expected to reach 5.9% by 2019.
EGPYT’S MONTHLY INFLATION RATE AT LOWEST LEVEL SINCE NOVEMBER 2015
Bloomberg reported this week that Egypt’s monthly urban inflation rate fell for the first time in more than two years as the impact of lifting currency controls eased. According to CAPMAS (Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics), the month-on-month inflation rate came in at -0.2% in December, its lowest rate since November 2015, while the annual inflation rate eased to 21.9% from 26% in the previous month.
PRESIDENT EL SISI RECEIVES CITIZENS’ QUESTIONS ON “ASK THE PRESIDENT” WEBSITE
Egypt’s State Information Service reports that President El Sisi will receive questions from citizens on the ‘Ask the President’ website until 15 January. The move comes within the framework of the ‘Ask the President’ initiative that was launched last April at the National Youth Conference in Ismailia in an effort to enhance contact between the president and all segments of the Egyptian society.
EGYPT OFFICIALLY APPLIES FOR COMESA SECRETARY-GENERAL POST
The State Information Service reported that Egypt has officially applied for the Secretary-General post of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA). The move comes as Egypt is elevating its role in Africa and improving trade relations with the COMESA member states. Egyptian exports to the COMESA member states reached $1.7 billion during 2017.