Egyptian business leader brands UK-Egypt relations ‘best they’ve ever been’

Egypt’s Acting Minister of Health Khaled Abdel Ghaffar speaks at an event organized by the Arab British Chamber of Commerce. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)
Egypt’s Acting Minister of Health Khaled Abdel Ghaffar speaks at an event organized by the Arab British Chamber of Commerce. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)
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Updated 28 May 2022

Egyptian business leader brands UK-Egypt relations ‘best they’ve ever been’

Egyptian business leader brands UK-Egypt relations ‘best they’ve ever been’
  • A high-level Egyptian government and business delegation visited Britain to attract foreign investment
  • Acting Minister of Health and Population Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar said ‘Egypt is now well prepared for foreign investment’

LONDON: Relations between Britain and Egypt are the best they have ever been, with the UK keen to further increase cooperation, Egyptian officials have revealed.

The comments came during a visit to Britain by a high-level Egyptian government and business delegation.

Egyptian Acting Minister of Health and Population Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar, said: “We see that Egypt is now well prepared for foreign investment, and well organized when it comes to legislation and opportunities.

“At the same time, we have been ranked through different financial institutions as a place where the future of investment and the future of economy is coming in front of us.”

Abdel Ghaffar, who is also the minister of higher education and scientific research, was on a one-day visit to the UK to highlight some of the opportunities to attract investors from different sectors in health care.




Egyptian Acting Minister of Health and Population Dr. Khaled Abdel Ghaffar was visiting as part of a four-day mission organized by the Cairo-based British Egyptian Business Association. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)

Speaking on the sidelines of an event organized by the London-based Arab British Chamber of Commerce where he briefed senior executives from the UK health and pharmaceuticals sectors, the minister told Arab News he aimed to spotlight the resilience and capacity of the Egyptian health care system, as well as the gaps needed to be filled by foreign investment.

“We are here to show our commitment as a government, and as a will for opening our hands for investments in different sectors in Egypt,” he added.

With economic activity in Egypt continuing to surge, its government is working to implement legislation for universal health care coverage by 2030, and UK investors could play a crucial role in providing health services and facilities in both urban and rural settings.

Wearing both ministerial hats, Abdel Ghaffar said many lines of communication had been opened in the health and higher education sectors between Egypt and the UK.

He pointed out that the two countries were holding “serious talks” on investing in hospitals, training nurses and physicians, and preparing ophthalmology and dentistry students to take their exams in Egypt. On the education front, he noted that several partnerships had already been established with a number of British universities and more were in the pipeline.

“We are planning to have around 15 new universities ready to operate by September and October this year. For that reason, we need to discuss more with our partners from the UK to encourage in that area,” Abdel Ghaffar added.

The minister was visiting as part of a four-day mission organized by the Cairo-based British Egyptian Business Association and the commercial attache of the Egyptian embassy in London, to promote other opportunities in Egypt too, with several events running in parallel targeting finance and green finance, infrastructure, renewable energy and green hydrogen, and opportunities in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

It was the BEBA’s seventh annual business mission and its biggest by far, its chairman, Khaled Nosseir, said, adding that the delegation included four cabinet ministers — international cooperation, finance, electricity, and energy, and health and higher education — along with vice ministers, heads of authorities, and around 74 business leaders who came from Cairo.




The visit was organized by the British Egyptian Business Association’s and it was its seventh annual business mission and its biggest by far. (AN Photo/Hasenin Fadhel)

Nosseir said they had held meetings, seminars, and events with counterparts, investors, and those interested in dealing with the north African country to address opportunities not only in the Egyptian market, but also other markets in Africa.

Another main highlight of the visit was Egypt’s Vision 2030 and the much-anticipated UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) which will be held in the Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheikh in November, as the UK hands over the presidency from the previous year.

“Relations between Egypt and the UK, this is the best they have ever been, at least, that I’ve experienced. So, we’re trying to bank on that and really build on that to foster economic relations, trade, and investment,” Nosseir added, describing the response throughout the visit as “very positive” from all sides.

“There’s been a seismic transformation in Egypt over the last six years, and Egypt is not the same as what it used to be, and whatever we try to explain to anybody outside of Egypt what’s happening and the new Egypt, no one can really grasp it, because even for us in Egypt, it’s mind boggling,” he said.


Crypto rules to make Europe global leader as prices plunge

Crypto rules to make Europe global leader as prices plunge
Updated 56 min 46 sec ago

Crypto rules to make Europe global leader as prices plunge

Crypto rules to make Europe global leader as prices plunge
  • EU to subject cryptocurrency transfers to money laundering rules

RIYADH: Europe prepares to lead the world in regulating the cryptocurrency industry at a time when prices have plunged, wiping out fortunes, fueling skepticism and sparking calls for tighter scrutiny.

The EU took a first step late Wednesday by agreeing on new rules subjecting cryptocurrency transfers to the same money laundering rules as traditional banking transfers.

A much bigger move was expected as EU negotiators hammer out the final details late Thursday on a separate deal for a sweeping package of crypto regulations for the bloc’s 27 nations, known as Markets in Crypto Assets, or MiCA.

Like the EU’s trendsetting data privacy policy, which became the de facto global standard, the crypto regulations are expected to be highly influential worldwide.

The EU rules are “really the first comprehensive piece of crypto regulation in the world,” said Patrick Hansen, crypto venture adviser at Presight Capital, a venture capital firm.

Patrick Hansen, analyst

“I think there will be a lot of jurisdictions that will look closely into how the EU has dealt with it since the EU is first here,” Hansen said.

He expected authorities in other places, especially smaller countries that don’t have the resources to draw up their own rules from scratch, to adopt ones similar to the EU’s, though “they might change a few details.”

Companies issuing or trading crypto assets such as stablecoins face tough transparency requirements requiring them to provide detailed information on the risks, costs and charges that consumers face.

Providers of bitcoin-related services would fall under the regulations, but not bitcoin itself, the world’s most popular cryptocurrency that has lost more than 70 percent of its value from its November peak.

Russia probes 400 cases

The Federal Financial Monitoring Service of the Russian Federation is trying to detect around 400 cases in which cryptocurrencies are involved, the agency’s director, Yury Chikhanchin, revealed the number during a meeting with President Vladimir Putin.

Russian law enforcement authorities have already initiated 20 criminal cases related to digital assets, Bitcoin.com reported.

Chikhanchin acknowledged that Russians continue to actively use cryptocurrency platforms located outside the country.

“This phenomenon continues to exist. And only on two foreign sites, two exchanges, several hundred thousand Russian citizens participate in transactions worth tens of billions,” he said.

According to official data released earlier this year, the number of lawsuits related to cryptocurrency mining in Russia exceeded 1,500 in 2021.

$100 million crypto hack

Digital investigative firms have concluded that North Korean hackers are most likely responsible for an attack last week that took as much as $100 million in cryptocurrency from a US company, according to Reuters.

Cryptocurrency assets were stolen on June 23 from Horizon Bridge, a service provided by Harmony blockchain that transfers assets between blockchains. The hackers’ activity since then suggests they may be affiliated with North Korea, which experts say is among the most prolific cyberattackers.

The UN sanctions monitors say Pyongyang uses the stolen funds to finance its nuclear and missile programs.


Fitch cuts view on global sovereign debt over rise in borrowing costs

Fitch cuts view on global sovereign debt over rise in borrowing costs
Updated 30 June 2022

Fitch cuts view on global sovereign debt over rise in borrowing costs

Fitch cuts view on global sovereign debt over rise in borrowing costs

LONDON: Credit rating agency Fitch downgraded its view on sovereign debt on Thursday on concerns about the rise in global borrowing costs and the potential for a flurry of new defaults.

Fitch, which monitors over 100 countries, said the Ukraine-Russia war was stoking problems such as higher inflation, trade disruptions and weaker economies which are all now hurting sovereign credit conditions.

“Rising interest rates are increasing government debt-servicing costs,” Fitch’s Global Head of Sovereigns, James McCormack, said, cutting the firm’s view on the sovereign sector to “neutral” from “improving.”

“Most exposed are emerging market (EM) sovereigns, but some highly indebted developed markets are at risk as well, including in the eurozone.” The number of countries seeing their credit ratings cut has begun to rise again this year as the pressures have built.

Most of the governments Fitch covers have either brought in subsidies or cut tax cuts to try to cushion the impact of surging inflation. But that carries costs.

“While modest fiscal deteriorations can be absorbed by the positive effects inflation has on government debt dynamics, such effects depend on the retention of low interest rates, which are now less certain,” McCormack said.

While commodity exporters will benefit from higher prices, those who have to import the bulk of their energy or food will suffer.

Gross external funding needs will be highest this year in both nominal terms and relative to foreign exchange reserves for EM sovereigns that are net importers of commodities, McCormack added.

“They now face tighter global funding conditions, and with a record-high share of sovereigns rated in the ‘B’ category or lower, it is likely there will be additional defaults.”

The list of countries either in default or whose financial market bond yields suggest they will be currently stands at a record 17.

Those 17 are Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Zambia, Lebanon, Tunisia, Ghana, Ethiopia, Ukraine, Tajikistan, El Salvador, Suriname, Ecuador, Belize, Argentina, Russia, Belarus and Venezuela.


Saudis reportedly in talks over stake in luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin

Saudis reportedly in talks over stake in luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin
Updated 30 June 2022

Saudis reportedly in talks over stake in luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin

Saudis reportedly in talks over stake in luxury car manufacturer Aston Martin
  • The Kingdom’s Public Investment Fund is said to be considering taking a $243.5m stake in the British company that make the vehicles favored by movie spy James Bond

LONDON: Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund is reportedly in talks with Aston Martin over acquiring what the Financial Times newspaper said would be a $243.5 million stake in the luxury carmaker.

The British manufacturer refused to confirm or deny the reports but following the news on Thursday, a fall in the company’s share price was reduced to nine percent from a 20 percent drop earlier in the day.

Since its initial public offering in 2018, the carmaker — whose vehicles frequently appear in James Bond movies — has struggled, with the share price falling by nearly 68 percent this year alone.

In January, Aston Martin blamed lower-than-expected profits on delays in shipments of its limited edition Valkyrie sports car, but the company said on Thursday that production of the model has started to pick up pace.

In a further effort to reassure investors, it added that its management team, led by new boss Amedeo Felisa, is increasingly focusing on the launch of new models beginning in 2023.

Citing four sources said to be close to the PIF investment talks, the FT said Aston Martin is seeking to raise additional funding for its new range of cars. Autocar magazine reported that the manufacturer is also in talks with a US-based investment fund as it looks to raise capital.


Nearly 60% of Saudi, UAE businesses lack ESG framework, survey shows

Nearly 60% of Saudi, UAE businesses lack ESG framework, survey shows
Updated 30 June 2022

Nearly 60% of Saudi, UAE businesses lack ESG framework, survey shows

Nearly 60% of Saudi, UAE businesses lack ESG framework, survey shows

RIYADH: Nearly 60 percent of businesses in Saudi Arabia and the UAE do not have an environmental, social and governance framework, a survey by ASDA’A BCW’s unit showed. 

Conducted by PSB Middle East, the survey also revealed that around half of those who have an ESG framework, are not sure their employees fully understand it. 

The survey marked the launch of OnePoint5, its new ESG advisory dedicated to the Middle East and North Africa region.

Out of the 200 respondents interviewed, 41 percent said their business already had an ESG framework in place, while 33 percent said they were developing one, while 26 percent admitted their company had no ESG policy. 

Around 52 percent of the respondents said their company had introduced an ESG framework and they did not fully understand it, which shows the need for raising awareness of the benefits of ESG standards. 

The research indicated that the Middle East’s business community had work to do to meet the high expectations of their governments on sustainability, Sunil John, president MENA of BCW, said. 

 


Saudi Arabia’s Retal signs $91m deal with PIF-backed Roshn to purchase plots in SEDRA

Saudi Arabia’s Retal signs $91m deal with PIF-backed Roshn to purchase plots in SEDRA
Updated 30 June 2022

Saudi Arabia’s Retal signs $91m deal with PIF-backed Roshn to purchase plots in SEDRA

Saudi Arabia’s Retal signs $91m deal with PIF-backed Roshn to purchase plots in SEDRA

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Retal Urban Development has signed a SR339 million ($90.5 million) deal with the Public Investment Fund-backed Roshn Real Estate to buy 372 plots within its integrated community SEDRA in Riyadh.

Saudi-listed Roshn said it plans to develop the land according to its guidelines for SEDRA, according to MEED. 

Located in the north of Riyadh, the project was launched last August by Roshn, with a plan to include 30,000 homes across eight phases. 

The agreement is expected to directly impact Retal’s financials between 2022 and 2024.