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India-Egypt relations: PM’s Egypt Visit

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July 01, 2023

Why in news?

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s historic two day state visit to Egypt renewed India ties with Egypt.

What is the history of India-Egypt relations?

  • Historical - The history of contacts between India and Egypt, two of the world’s oldest civilisations, can be traced back to at least the time of Emperor Asoka.
  • Geostrategic - Egypt, the most populous country in West Asia, occupies a crucial geo-strategic location — 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal.
  • It is a major market for India and can act as a gateway to both Europe and Africa.
  • Political - The joint announcement of the establishment of diplomatic relations at the Ambassadorial level was made in 1947.
  • India’s Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser signed the friendship treaty in 1955 and they were key to form the NAM in 1961.
  • New Delhi views Egypt as a moderate Islamic voice, which has made an attempt to play a positive role in the 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
  • Economic - The India-Egypt bilateral trade agreement has been in operation since 1978 and is based on the most-favoured nation clause.
  • The bilateral trade has increased more than five times in the past 10 years.
  • Agriculture will be a key area of cooperation as Egypt is facing a shortage of food grains due to Ukraine Russia war.

egypt 2023

How significant is the Egypt visit?

  • Prime Minister’s visit to Egypt marks a significant moment in bilateral relations.
  • It is the first visit to Egypt by an Indian Prime Minister since 1997.
  • The state visit elevated the Egypt-India relationship to a strategic partnership.
  • Egypt’s rising stature in Africa and the strategic importance of the Suez Canal further enhance its role in global geopolitics and trade.
  • Thus it is a significant move for India’s ties with the West Asia-North Africa (WANA) region.

What happened during the visit?

  • Prime Minister was conferred with the ‘Order of the Nile’, Egypt’s highest honour, by President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi at Cairo.
  • Four agreements were signed between India and Egypt during the visit.
  • The strategic partnership between India and Egypt for clean energy.
  • Three Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) were also signed in the fields of agriculture, archaeology and antiquities, and competition law.
  • Lately, India Unit’ was newly formed in the Egyptian Cabinet to act as a tool in steering bilateral collaborations.
  • He visited the Al-Hakim Mosque and met with Egypt’s Grand Mufti.

President of Egypt, H.E. Mr. Abdel Fattah El-Sisi visited India as Chief Guest for Republic Day 2023

How has the relationship transformed over the years?

  • Their positions on the Ukraine war have been extremely similar, both India and Egypt calling for a diplomatic resolution.
  • India supplied wheat to Egypt that was hit by the blockade on exports from Russia and Ukraine last year, before the Black Sea Grain Initiative stepped in.
  • Pillars of ties - The India-Egypt strategic partnership is to be built on 4 pillars that have formed the core of the relationship -
    • Politics, defence and security
    • Economic engagement
    • Academic and scientific exchanges
    • Cultural and people-to-people contacts

Egypt is a “guest country” at the upcoming G-20 summit to be held in September 2023.

  • The Egypt-India partnership holds tremendous regional and global significance and enables India to fortify its economic ties, extend its global reach, and safeguard its maritime interests.
  • Regional - It strengthens India’s foothold in Africa.
  • Global - India can build on Egypt’s expanding presence in Africa and elevate its own position on the global stage.
  • Defence - Egypt’s pursuit of a self-reliant defence industry aligns with India’s defence capabilities.
  • Egypt’s interest in acquiring the Tejas LCA Mk-1A aircraft from India opens avenues for collaboration in the aviation sector.
  • Egypt could serve as a pivotal gateway for India to expand its defence capabilities and access significant markets with its network of defence alliances with African nations.
  • Economic - The Suez Canal holds paramount significance for India’s trade, connectivity, and maritime security prospects.
  • Egypt is positioned as the second largest economy in Africa after Nigeria.
  • Strategic ties with Egypt will open India’s access to Africa markets under the umbrella of the African Continental Free Trade Area.
  • Connectivity - Establishing Indian industrial zones in the strategic Suez Canal region would facilitate seamless connectivity.
  • The Industrial Zone will enable India to bring its manufacturing capabilities to Africa’s expanding markets.
  • Clean Energy - The green and renewable collaboration will be an important part of India’s future partnership with Egypt.

References

  1. IE - Express View on India-Egypt relationship: Cairo tryst
  2. IE - India’s renewed ties with Egypt can help its global standing
  3. The Hindu - A grand revival: on India-Egypt ties
  4. The Hindu - Strategic partnership pact between India and Egypt
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