Egypt central bank seen keeping key interest rates steady

Egypt’s central bank is likely to keep interest rates on hold for a second straight time on Thursday, a Reuters poll suggested. (AP/File)
Short Url
Updated 19 February 2020

Egypt central bank seen keeping key interest rates steady

  • Egypt’s annual urban consumer inflation rose to 7.2 percent in January from 7.1 percent in December

CAIRO: Egypt’s central bank is likely to keep interest rates on hold for a second straight time on Thursday, a Reuters poll suggested, though some analysts expected another cut after inflation ticking up in January.

Six out of 11 economists surveyed by Reuters expected the Central Bank of Egypt to keep rates steady when its monetary policy committee meets, while five forecast a cut of between 50 and 100 basis points.

At the last meeting on Jan. 16, the CBE left its overnight rate at 13.25 percent for lending and 12.25 percent for deposits, unexpectedly halting an easing cycle that had shaved off 350 basis points (bps) since August.

The most populous Arab country is emerging from a three-year International Monetary Fund-backed economic reform program that saw inflation soar as high as 33 percent during 2017.

Egypt’s annual urban consumer inflation rose to 7.2 percent in January from 7.1 percent in December after falling to as low as 3.1 percent in October, its slowest since December 2005.

“We project another rate cut of between 50 and 100 bps as inflationary pressures are expected to ease amid weak domestic demand conditions,” said Callee Davis, analyst at South Africa-based NKC.

“Consumer price inflation is forecast to slow in the near term owing to the continued strengthening of the Egyptian pound and the potential downward adjustment of domestic fuel price in line with global Brent crude oil prices, combined with some base effects,” she said.


China says it has sold nearly four billion masks abroad

Updated 05 April 2020

China says it has sold nearly four billion masks abroad

  • Beijing has encouraged factories to increase production of medical supplies
  • China has also exported 37.5 million pieces of protective clothing, 16,000 ventilators and 2.84 million COVID-19 testing kits since March 1
BEIJING: China has sold nearly four billion masks to foreign countries since March, officials said Sunday, as they tried to stem widespread fears over the quality of medical exports.
Despite Chinese cases dwindling, Beijing has encouraged factories to increase production of medical supplies as the pandemic kills over 60,000 globally and parts of the world face a protective equipment shortage.
China has exported 3.86 billion masks, 37.5 million pieces of protective clothing, 16,000 ventilators and 2.84 million COVID-19 testing kits since March 1, customs official Jin Hai said, with orders to more than 50 countries.
She added the country’s medical supply exports were valued at $1.4 billion.
However numerous nations — including the Netherlands, the Philippines, Croatia, Turkey and Spain — have complained about substandard or faulty medical products shipped from China.
Last week, the Dutch government recalled 600,000 masks out of a Chinese shipment of 1.3 million that did not meet quality standards.
China said the manufacturer “stated clearly that (the masks) are non-surgical.”
Spain also rejected thousands of rapid test kits sent by an unauthorized Chinese company after it found that they were unreliable last week.
Chinese officials hit back on Sunday at media reports over defective medical supplies, saying that they “did not reflect the full facts.”
“In reality there are various factors, such as China having different standards and different usage habits to other countries. Even improper use can lead to doubts over quality,” said Jiang Fan, an official with the Ministry of Commerce.
The comments echoed remarks from Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, who over the past week has repeatedly urged Western media not to “politicize” or “hype up” the issue.
Earlier this week, Beijing tightened regulations for exported coronavirus medical equipment, requiring products to fulfil both domestic licensing standards and that of their destination countries.
China has also increased its production capacity of COVID-19 testing kits to over 4 million a day, said Zhang Qi, an official with the National Medical Products Administration.