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:
- Foreign Minister Shoukry Speaks with Acting U.S. Secretary of State by Phone
- Egyptian Armed Forces Kill ISIS Leader in North Sinai
- Egyptian Government Legalizes 102 Christian Churches
- Egypt’s Unemployment Rate Dips to 11.8% In 2017
- World Bank Announces New $500 Million Investment in Egypt With Focus on Education
- IMF Expects Egypt’s Economy to Grow at 5.2% in 2018, Finance Minister Targets 5.8% Growth in Budget
- Egypt’s Parliament Approves Law Regulating National Council for Women
- President El Sisi Discusses Increasing Investment, Education and Training with Boeing International President Marc Allen
We hope you enjoy. Please let us know if the Embassy can be a resource.
FOREIGN MINISTER SHOUKRY SPEAKS WITH ACTING U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE BY PHONE
On Monday, 16 April, Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry spoke with Acting U.S. Secretary of State John Sullivan by phone to discuss the situation in Syria. According to Egypt’s State Information Service, on the call, Foreign Minister Shoukry “emphasized the need to intensify efforts to push forward the political process with the aim of reaching a peaceful resolution to the Syrian crisis.” Following the call, both Egypt and the U.S. “agreed to continue coordination and consultation during the upcoming period with the aim of giving a push to the political process and encouraging all parties to positively engage in negotiations.”
EGYPTIAN ARMED FORCES KILL ISIS LEADER IN NORTH SINAI
According to Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS), the leader of the ISIS affiliated terrorist organization in Central Sinai, Nasser Abo Zaqoul, was killed by the Egyptian Armed Forces this week. In a statement published on Wednesday, 18 April, the Armed Forces said that forces of the Third Field Army launched security crackdowns in several rugged mountainous areas in Central Sinai that led to the killing of Zaqoul in a shootout. The statement added that a machine gun, two hand grenades, large quantities of ammunition, six magazines and a wireless communication device were found in possession of the terrorist.
EGYPTIAN GOVERNMENT LEGALIZES 102 CHRISTIAN CHURCHES
On Monday, 16 April, Egypt’s Prime Minister Sherif Ismail led a meeting of the high committee tasked regulating the status of churches and service buildings in Egypt. In the meeting, the committee moved to grant legal status to 102 Christian churches and 64 church-related buildings across Egypt. According to Al Ahram, Prime Minister Ismail “called on the committee to continue reviewing more cases to speed up the process,” and “added that the committee’s work is in line with the 2014 constitution, which guarantees the right to freedom of religious practice for Muslims, Christians and Jews.”
EGYPT’S UNEMPLOYMENT RATE DIPS TO 11.8% IN 2017
According to new figures from Egypt’s state statistics agency CAPMAS, unemployment in Egypt reached a new low in 2017. According to CAPMAS, Egypt’s unemployment rate fell to 11.8% in 2017, down from 12.5% the previous year. In the next several years, Egypt’s government is targeting an unemployment rate below 90% by stimulating economic growth. Separately, on Monday, 16 April, the World Bank increased its estimate for Egypt’s GDP growth rate in the current fiscal year. According to the World Bank, “As reform momentum is sustained, economic activity is expected to improve and imbalances are projected to narrow further.”
WORLD BANK ANNOUNCES NEW $500 MILLION INVESTMENT IN EGYPT WITH FOCUS ON EDUCATION
On Saturday, 14 April, the World Bank announced a new investment in Egypt worth USD $500 million to support education reform in Egypt. According to Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS), the investment “will help transform the education system through bold modernization initiatives,” and will also “expand access to quality kindergarten for around 500,000 children, train 500,000 teachers and education officials,” and provide 1.5 million students and teachers with digital learning resources. In a statement, Dr. Asad Alam, World Bank Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti, said, “Strengthening the education system is critical to improving productivity and promoting growth…By focusing on strengthening learning conditions, young Egyptians will be better prepared for higher paying and skilled jobs of the future.”
IMF EXPECTS EGYPT’S ECONOMY TO GROW AT 5.2% IN 2018, FINANCE MINISTER TARGETS 5.8% GROWTH IN BUDGET
In its latest World Economic Outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects Egypt to achieve an economic growth rate of 5.2% in 2018, compared to 5% in October 2017. According to Egypt’s State Information Service (SIS), the IMF ascribed the rise in Egypt’s economic growth rate to stronger momentum in domestic demand and the effect of structural reforms. Meanwhile, Minister of Finance Amr El Garhy projects Egypt’s rate of growth to reach 5.8% in the Egyptian government’s budget. In statements on the sidelines of the 2018 Annual Spring Meetings of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Group, Garhy also noted that the annual inflation rate continues to decrease, reaching 13.1% in March 2018.
EGYPT’S PARLIAMENT APPROVES LAW REGULATING NATIONAL COUNCIL FOR WOMEN
This week, Egypt’s Parliament approved a new 23-article law aimed at regulating the National Council for Women, bringing it in line with the 2014 constitution and international conventions signed by Egypt. According to Al Ahram, House Speaker Ali Abdel Aal hailed the law as a very progressive step for women in Egypt. “We have seen that over a few years women in Egypt were able to become cabinet ministers and provincial governors,” said Abdel Aal, “and I assure you that in the coming few years women will be also named as judges and heads of courts.” Ghada Sakr, the deputy head of the Parliament’s Tourism Committee, stated, “right now, we have 6 women as cabinet ministers, or 20 percent of the cabinet’s total members, we have 90 female MPs (15 percent), one provincial governor, and I am sure that the new law will help women reach other leading positions, particularly in the judicial sector.”
PRESIDENT EL SISI DISCUSSES INCREASING INVESTMENT, EDUCATION AND TRAINING WITH BOEING INTERNATIONAL PRESIDENT MARC ALLEN
On Wednesday, 18 April, President El Sisi met with Boeing International president Marc Allen in Cairo. According to a statement released by the Office of the Presidency, President El Sisi “expressed his appreciation for the ongoing cooperation between Egypt and Boeing International, noting Egypt’s commitment to further enhancing it.” The meeting also touched on current cooperation in the field of defense and other areas including the establishment of a local and regional center in Egypt that serves the Middle East and Africa to equip and maintain airplanes, including new models. President El Sisi affirmed that Egypt is open to cooperation with Boeing International and looks forward to having it increase investment in the country across various fields, including education and technical training.