Morning Wrap – Egypt’s Families Mired in Debt, Qatar Holding Is No Bureaucracy

The Egyptian state’s main wheat buying agency, the General Authority for Supply Commodities (GASC), has set a tender to buy an unspecified amount of wheat from global suppliers for Oct. 1-10 shipment.   It was the third international wheat tender by GASC in two weeks as the world’s top wheat importing nation moved to secure supplies amid rising concerns about weather-shortened crops in key exporting nations including Russia and Australia.

US economic officials will head to Cairo next week to discuss ways of helping Egypt navigate the transition following last year’s ouster of Hosni Mubarak, the State Department said Saturday.

Egypt reopened the Rafah border crossing with Gaza on Saturday, a lifeline for Gazans which had been closed for much of the month since an August 5 attack on Egyptian guards,  Reuters said, citing Palestinian and Egyptian security sources.   The move signals an advance in relations between Egypt’s new government lead by President Mohammed Mursi and Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, which had deteriorated since the attack in which gunmen killed 16 Egyptian soldiers on the Israeli border.

It is also a signal that Egypt may comply with Hamas’s request to use the Rafah crossing as a commercial trade point into Gaza, as our guest blogger Jared Malsin wrote this weekend.

Egypt’s Suez Canal, a vital earner of foreign currency, sees “record [daily] revenues”, according to this Al Masry Al Youm article.   This waterway is seen by economists as a cushion for foreign currency that could allow Egypt to survive the post-revolutionary fiscal stress.

Also, you must read the following:

For a family of 5 in Saft El Laban, Giza, a salary of 1,500 Egyptian pounds ($246.44) is almost wipe out in a couple of days after debts, education and health costs.  A normal Egyptian family draws attention to the plight of millions of Egyptians in this story from The National’s Cairo correspondent, Bradley Hope.  About 20% of Egypt’s budget is spent on subsidies for energy, which is higher than the combined budget allocations for education and health care, which are 11% and 5% respectively.

US investigates Italy’s UniCredit over Iran sanctions – Italy’s largest bank by assets, is being investigated by US authorities for possibly breaking sanctions that prohibit doing business with certain countries, according to public documents published by the bank.

Qatar Holding comes of age as it resists “Glenstrata” – how a $70bn merger between Glencore, the world’s biggest commodities trader, and the London-listed miner Xstrata is likely to be derailed by a little-known sovereign wealth fund, Qatar Holding, writes Camilla Hall and Henny Sender in the FT.

Interesting insight into how Qatar Holding and its real estate arm, Qatari Diar, have very little process or bureaucracy, according to people who deal with them regularly, in stark contrast to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority.

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