Egypt’s inflation rate increased for a second month, backing the central bank’s decision to halt a series of cuts that pushed the key interest rates to a three-year low. Urban inflation, the benchmark that the central bank monitors, accelerated to 13.3 percent in October from 10.8 percent the previous month, the Cairo-based Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics has said. Nationwide inflation picked-up to 12.8 percent from 10.2 percent in September, the agency said. Prices increased 2.2 percent in the month. The central bank held its benchmark overnight deposit rate at 8.25 percent on Nov. 5, saying there were “encouraging signs” that the global economy has stabilized while local fiscal and monetary measures would help the domestic economy. The Egyptian economy expanded 4.9 percent in the third quarter of 2009 compared with 4.7 percent in the previous three months. The government has said it expects gross domestic product to grow more than 5 percent in the fiscal year through June 2010.
“Never say never”
Mohamed al-Baradei, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and outgoing head of the UN nuclear watchdog, said in a television interview he would not rule out running for the presidency of his native Egypt. Baradei said one should “never say never” but made clear there would have to be “built-in guarantees” that the election, scheduled for 2011, would be run properly before he would agree to run. “I will only consider it if there is a free and fair election and that is a question mark still in Egypt,” Baradei said. The 67-year-old Egyptian diplomat and lawyer steps down at the end of November as director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, a high-profile U.N. agency based in Vienna that he has headed for 12 years. Baradei and the IAEA were joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005 for their efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and to promote the safe use of nuclear energy.
Envoy to Iraq
Egypt##s new ambassador to Iraq has arrived in Baghdad, a diplomatic source said last weekend of Cairo##s first diplomatic representative in the country since its charge d##affaires Ihab al-Sharif was abducted and murdered by al-Qaeda in Baghdad in 2005. Sharif Kamal Shahin, a diplomat with 27 years## experience and a former ambassador to Zambia, arrived in Iraq on Friday 6 November. The move was described by Egyptian diplomatic circles as an “important step to promote relations between the two Arab countries.”
The fourth MED-ALLIA Forum—the Mediterranean Forum of Businesses Development—will open in Cairo on 6 December with the participation of Egyptian, Arab and Mediterranean companies, Minister of Trade and Industry Rasheed Mohamed Rasheed has said. The Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce and UBIFRANCE are in charge of gearing up for the three-day event. MED-ALLIA Cairo 2009 is a multi-sector forum that aims at developing commercial exchanges and partnerships between French and Egyptian companies as well as enterprises of the region, thus joining the dynamics of the Union for the Mediterranean co-presided by France and Egypt. Within the framework of the December event, meetings will be organised among 400 companies from Egypt, France, Algeria, Tunisia, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Libya, Morocco and Turkey, Rasheed said. So far, 61 French companies, 40 Egyptian and 20 from the Mediterranean Union member states, will take part in the forum.