Vietnam and Egypt will celebrate the 55th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries this year. The foreign policy of the two countries is based upon the principles of the Non-Aligned Movement. The traditional friendly and cooperative relations between Vietnam and Egypt have progressed smoothly. Egypt was one of the first Arab countries to establish relations with Vietnam. Vietnam has had its trade representative office in Egypt since 1958 and on September 1, 1963, the two countries formally established diplomatic ties.

Relations between the two countries were further boosted by the visit of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Hanoi in September 2017 which bore fruitful results. During Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s visit to Vietnam, both the countries expressed their pleasure over their sound affiliation at regional and international forums, including mutual support for each other when running for seats in United Nations agencies. The two nations regularly work together and support each other at international forums, with Egypt backing Vietnam’s application for the UN Security Council (2020 – 2021) and the UN Human Rights Council (2014 – 2016), and Vietnam backing Egypt’s admission to the UN Security Council (2016 – 2017) and the UN Human Rights Council (2017 – 2019).

Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang said that his country valued Egypt’s role as a founding member of the Non-aligned Movement and its place in outlining the Movement’s basic principles on independence, national sovereignty and cooperation for mutual benefit and peace among nations. Quang emphasised that these principles uphold their value today and still serve as the guideline for the traditional friendship between Vietnam and Egypt. Quang expressed his belief that with the resolve of both sides’ leaders, the bi-lateral cooperation will continue to develop in a substantial manner, meeting the aspiration and interests of the people of the two countries and contributing to maintaining peace, stability, cooperation and development in each region and the world as a whole.

Egypt and Vietnam have a robust trade relationship. Egypt is Vietnam’s second largest trade partner in Africa, with two-way trade revenues between them reaching US$316 million in 2016. Vietnam’s major exports to Egypt include seafood, automotive parts, fabrics, black pepper, coffee, rubber and consumer goods, while its main imports are chemicals, honey, petroleum products, milk and dairy products, fibers and consumer goods. Egypt was the first Northern African country to recognise Vietnam as a country with a full market economy in November 2013.

The two countries decided to bolster bilateral cooperation in trade and investment, and agreed upon to create optimal conditions for businesses in order to access the respective markets, aiming to raise two-way trade to US$1 billion in the future. Sisi emphasised that Egypt serves as a gateway for Vietnam to enter the African and Middle East markets, and added that Egypt’s engagement in free trade agreements with Africa, Gulf States and Europe would make it easier for Vietnamese goods to access these markets. Sisi further stressed t that Egypt wishes to balance trade with Vietnam and called on the Vietnamese enterprises to invest in Egypt’s industrial parks.

On the side-lines of Sisi’s visit, Egypt’s Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Sahar Nasr and Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority and the Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) Vice-Admiral Mohab Mamish met Vietnamese Minister of Planning and Investment Nguyen Chi Dung. Nasr emphasised the importance of enhancing investment cooperation between both countries and encouraging the establishment of joint ventures between the private sectors in Egypt and Vietnam. Both sides agreed to sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in investment and the stock exchange, and have also held the Egyptian-Vietnamese Business Council.

The two countries have agreed to increase the exchange of delegations through Government, National Assembly, locality, and people-to-people links and connection between the two business communities, along with continuously promoting the efficiency of the existing cooperation mechanisms such as the Intergovernmental Committee and political consultations, thus strengthening mutual understanding.

By Dr. Ankit Srivastava