Egypt seeks sovereign wealth fund boss

A general view of banks, hotels, office and residential buildings in the center of Cairo. (Reuters)
Updated 13 September 2018
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Egypt seeks sovereign wealth fund boss

  • Government announced formation of fund earlier this year
  • Gas proceeds from Zohr field boosts government coffers

LONDON: Egypt is looking to hire a chief executive for its new sovereign wealth fund as it seeks to attract more foreign investment.
The government said in July it planned to create a fund with capital of 200 billion Egyptian pounds ($11 billion) to help maximize the value of state assets and boost investment from overseas.
The government this week placed adverts in the international press seeking a CEO to lead a “sophisticated, state of the art, institution that will work with the Government of Egypt to promote investment.”
Egypt’s financial position has improved following the introduction of structural reforms while at the same time benefitting from increased revenues generated by recently discovered gas reserves.
“The substantial progress made by the government in implementing reforms agreed with the IMF has imparted a degree of financial stability not present earlier in the decade,” Moodys said in a note last month.
“Primary deficits have shrunk and the debt burden has begun to fall. Foreign exchange buffers have been rebuilt. The government is in the midst of an ambitious structural economic reform program. And a degree of political stability has been achieved and seems likely to be sustained, increasing the likelihood that the general policy direction will be maintained.”
Vast gas discoveries in the vast offshore field known as Zohr has had a dramatic impact on government finances with some $10 billion in energy sector investment commitments annually over the next four years.


Pakistan PM Khan expected to boost aid and trade from visit to Kingdom

Updated 5 min 34 sec ago
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Pakistan PM Khan expected to boost aid and trade from visit to Kingdom

  • Pakistan imports more than $13 billion of oil
  • Agriculture expected to be key focus

KARACHI: Faced with a financial crisis at home, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan’s first visit to Saudi Arabia could provide a much needed boost to the country’s political and economic confidence, experts said on Tuesday.
The trip, which began on Tuesday, holds even more significance as Khan is expected to seek $2-$3 billion in economic aid from the Kingdom, with an urgent need to inject around $9 billion into the economy — to stabilize external accounts largely inflated from high imports and insufficient exports.
“Pakistan expects an injection of around $2 billion to $3 billion in order to stabilize its foreign reserves position, currency and external balance sheet,” Dr. Bilal Ahmed, senior economic analyst, told Arab News.
He added that Pakistan would largely benefit from the visit, especially if the Kingdom is convinced “to supply oil at concessionary rates which would mitigate pressure on the import bill to a large extent.”
During the last fiscal year, 2017-18, the country’s imports of petroleum stood at $13.27 billion, imported from different countries, including Saudi Arabia. “If Pakistan gets the oil at a deferred payment or at relaxed conditions the issue of the country’s cash will be resolved,” Syed Mazhar Ali Nasir, Senior Vice President of the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry — an apex body of Pakistan’s industrialists and traders — told Arab News.
Bilateral trade will be another key area of focus.
“We should explore avenues for exports to Saudi Arabia by ending tariff and non-tariff barriers that have decreased the trade of goods and services,” Dr. Ikram ul Haq, a senior economist and expert in legal matters, said.
Despite holding great potential, bilateral trade between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia is only $3.4 billion and largely in favor of Saudi Arabia.
Pakistan imported $3.1 billion worth of goods from the Kingdom during the fiscal year 2017-18, while exports stood at $316.7 million, data shared by the State Bank of Pakistan showed.
Suggesting new means to explore bilateral trade and investment — by relying less on traditional goods and services – Dr. Haq said: “Pakistan should try to win Saudi contracts for IT services as this is the area where we have potential to earn foreign exchange but we never tried. We must come out of traditional items like textile.”
Agriculture is another sector that Pakistan could tap into to seek Saudi investment through joint ventures, Dr. Haq said: “This area has potential to grow fast and create export surplus. Saudis investors can be lured for modern corporate farming in Pakistan to earn substantial profits.”