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:
- National Election Authority Declares President El Sisi Winner of 2018 Presidential Election With 97% of Votes
- U.S. President Trump Congratulates President El Sisi on Second Term
- After Egypt’s Election, President El Sisi Thanks Voters
- International Observers Commend Vote
- Central Bank of Egypt Cuts Key Interest Rates as Inflation Slows
- Egyptian Stocks Have Best Month Since 2016
- Egypt’s Foreign Currency Reserves Hit Record High at $42.6 Billion
- Egyptian Tourism Continues to Rebound as Foreign Arrivals Pick Up Again
- President El Sisi Discusses Financial Enhancements With Visa Inc.’s CEO
NATIONAL ELECTION AUTHORITY DECLARES PRESIDENT EL SISI WINNER OF 2018 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION WITH 97% OF VOTES
On 2 April, the National Election Authority (NEA) declared President Abdel Fattah El Sisi the winner of Egypt’s 2018 presidential election. He secured a second four-year term by winning 21,835,378 votes or 97.08% of valid votes, according to Al Ahram. The NEA said that 24,254,152 citizens voted in the elections at home and abroad, out of nearly 59 million eligible voters, representing a turnout of 41.5%. Egyptians voted at 13,706 polling stations across all 27 governorates, with more than 18,808 judges and 124,000 administrative staff supervising the process.
U.S. PRESIDENT TRUMP CONGRATULATES PRESIDENT EL SISI ON SECOND TERM
On Monday, 2 April, President El Sisi spoke by phone with U.S. President Donald Trump. According to a statement from Egypt’s Office of the Presidency, President Trump “offered his sincere congratulations for President El Sisi’s success in the presidential elections, wishing Egypt progress and prosperity.” On the call, President El Sisi also “affirmed the special Egyptian-U.S. relations as well as Egypt’s keenness on continuing to strengthen the ongoing strategic cooperation” between the two countries.
AFTER EGYPT’S ELECTION, PRESIDENT EL SISI THANKS VOTERS
Following President El Sisi’s re-election, the President addressed the Egyptian people to express his appreciation for their participation in the democratic process. In his speech, President El Sisi told Egyptians, “I would like to greet you all and to extend my appreciation and respect for what you have done for Egypt, the cherished homeland.” He added, “This great nation deserves our collective efforts, implanting hope, building the future, realizing its dreams, paving the way for the future that leads to the status that our country deserves and that is up to the sacrifices of its sons.”
INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS COMMEND VOTE
Following Egypt’s vote, international observers released statements applauding the election’s conduct. The African Union, which had 40 observers in 10 governorates, said the election “was conducted in a peaceful, orderly and transparent manner…no electoral fraud, manipulation or vote rigging observed.” The League of Arab States, which fielded 80 observers from 19 Arab nations, noted that “the electoral process was conducted in accordance with the provisions of the Egyptian electoral code and Egyptian Constitution.” Finally, Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the Community of Sahel-Saharan States (CEN-SAD), a joint mission of 33 observers at 462 electoral stations, commended the election’s “conditions of transparency, inclusiveness, credibility and regularity.” The Joint Mission added that “Egyptian women participated massively in the vote and contributed to the organization of the elections.”
CENTRAL BANK OF EGYPT CUTS KEY INTEREST RATES AS INFLATION SLOWS
Last week, the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) cut interest rates for the second time in six weeks after inflation slowed into its target range. According to Al Ahram, the overnight deposit rate was lowered to 16.75% from 17.75%, and the overnight lending rate was cut to 17.75% from 18.75%. Cutting key policy rates remains consistent with tight real monetary conditions and with achieving the target inflation rate of 13% (±3%) in 2018 Q4 and single digits thereafter, says the CBE.
EGYPTIAN STOCKS HAVE BEST MONTH SINCE 2016
According to a story in Bloomberg this week, Egyptian stocks “posted their best month since the decision to lift currency controls in 2016, buoyed by investor expectations that the government would press ahead undaunted with sweeping economic reforms.” Bloomberg cites Hasnain Malik, head of equities research at Exotix Capital in Dubai, who says “while the market consensus is already very positive on Egypt, we see a range of factors continuing to drive the stocks higher, including macroeconomic repair and fiscal cuts under the IMF’s supervision, and GDP growth from gas production and tourism recovery. This will help to reduce the current account deficit too.”
EGYPT’S FOREIGN CURRENCY RESERVES HIT RECORD HIGH AT $42.6 BILLION
Xinhua reports this week that Egypt’s foreign exchange reserves hit a new record high at the end of March, reaching $42.6 USD. According to the Central Bank of Egypt, this marks an increase of $87 million above February’s reserves, which amounted to $42.52 billion. Egypt’s foreign currency reserves continue to benefit from improving security conditions, increasing remittances from Egyptian expatriates, and foreign loans and deposits.
EGYPTIAN TOURISM CONTINUES TO REBOUND AS FOREIGN ARRIVALS PICK UP AGAIN
Egypt’s tourism industry continues to grow with a continued rebound of tourism arrivals in Egypt. This week, Oxford Business Group (OBG) noted that visitor numbers increased by 54% last year to 8.3 million, while tourism receipts more than doubled to $7.6 billion. Group travel also jumped 66.5%. While visitors come from all over the world, OBG specifically highlighted that there was a 39% year-on-year increase in the number of tourists from the UK in the January-February period. According to Hamed El Chiaty, the chairman of local travel company Travco, this positive trend is expected to continue into 2018, with arrivals likely to reach almost 12 million visitors.
PRESIDENT EL SISI DISCUSSES FINANCIAL ENHANCEMENTS WITH VISA INC.’S CEO
On 4 April, President El Sisi met with Visa Inc.’s chief executive officer Alfred F. Kelly. President El Sisi highlighted the government’s efforts to enhance the financial services system in Egypt in accordance with the latest international technologies in order to spur investment, stimulate the economy and provide convenient services to citizens. He also expressed interest in increasing cooperation with Visa in order to expand the company’s investments in Egypt. President El Sisi said this cooperation effort is part of his Administration’s broader efforts to upgrade the technological infrastructure of financial transactions, reinvigorate the digital economy, and to promote efforts towards financial inclusion. During the meeting, Kelly also commended the investment climate in Egypt.