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India-Egypt ties complete 75 years: Jaishankar visit strengthens relations

India and Egypt share close political understanding based on a long history of contact and cooperation in bilateral, regional and global issues. The joint announcement of the establishment of diplomatic relations at the Ambassadorial level was made on 18 August 1947. Both countries have cooperated closely in multilateral forums. Gamal Abdel Nasser and Jawaharlal Nehru were the founding members of the Non-Aligned Movement. The year 2022 is of particular significance since it marks the 75th anniversary of diplomatic relations between India and Egypt.

The Indian External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar visited Egypt for two days starting 15 October as both India and Egypt celebrate 75 years of relations. He was invited by his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Hassan Shoukry. During the visit, the EAM also addressed the India-Egypt Business Forum and spoke to Indian students in the country.

The visit is significant as both the countries have continued to strengthen relations and coordinate their foreign policy in multilateral settings. Bilateral trade has continued to strengthen as well since the signing of the bilateral trade agreement in 1978. As of FY 2020-21, the bilateral trade figure is USD 7.26 billion. Notably, India is also one of the largest investors in Egypt and the ballpark figure hovers above 3 billion dollars. In the 5th session India-Egypt Joint Trade Committee which concluded in July 2022, the annual bilateral trade target was set as $ US 12 billion, to be achieved by 2027.

Speaking at the India-Egypt Business Forum, the Indian EAM said that many reputed Indian companies favour Egypt as an investment destination and he sees a “world of possibilities” in the era of intense globalization. He also added, “The possibilities are greater, there is enthusiasm in India to explore it.” The Indian EAM also met the Egyptian President, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and reiterated the “strong personal commitment of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to growing this relationship.” At the beginning of his address to the business conclave EAM said that during his meeting with the President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah El-Sisi said to him that the current trade figure is not enough and both countries must find ways to increase it.

Interestingly, Jaishankar alluded to Egypt’s import of wheat from India which made global headlines in June. Owing to the Ukraine conflict, Egypt was facing a severe wheat shortage as both Russia and Ukraine served as its main granaries. Filling the gap, India supplied over one lakh eighty thousand tonnes of wheat to Egypt in June. India’s foreign minister also cited a poor growing season leading to shortages at home. India had banned all wheat exports starting from May when the wheat shortages were tipping. However, the government of PM Narendra Modi made an exception for neighbouring or poorer or friendly countries. Egypt figured in the shortlist too.
EAM Jaishankar also spoke about “double-polarization” i.e., North-South &/or East-West Polarization and the need for neutral voices. He referred to Egypt’s hosting of the 2022 UN climate change conference or COP 27 which is scheduled in the second and third weeks of November and noted that the importance of the COP meetings are increasing due to the mounting challenge of climate change. Jaishanker also highlighted that he will like to cut the regulatory hurdles in business, and increase flight connectivity between both countries.

While talking to the Indian students in Cairo, Jaishankar said that he will discuss the demand for opening an Indian Institute of Technology in Egypt too and noted that IIT-Delhi submitted a proposal in 2021 to the Union government for opening campuses in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Jaishankar’s visit to Egypt provided an opportunity to review the entire gamut of bilateral and multilateral relations and to exchange views with the Egyptian leadership covering a whole range of issues of mutual interest. The visit opened new avenues for deepening cooperation and exploring new initiatives in the bilateral partnership between India and Egypt.

Photo Credit : https://twitter.com/DrSJaishankar/status/1581632584148463618/photo/1


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