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Daily News Analysis


27th January, 2023 International Relations

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Context: Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisithe chief guest for the Republic Day celebrations this year, landed in India. This is the first time that an Egyptian President has been invited as chief guest for the event.


  • India and Egypt agreed to elevate their bilateral ties to a ‘strategic partnership’ that covers political, security, defence, energy and economic linkages.
  • Welcoming Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said the abuse of cyberspace by extremist forces was a “growing threat”, and that both sides agreed to intensify cooperation in this regard.
  • The two sides also discussed “platforms and equipment” to enhance defence partnership.
  • India has invited Egypt as a special guest for the G-20 summit.
  • The scope for cooperation in Indo-Egypt relations, especially in the fields of defence and security, was “unlimited”.
  • External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar, who visited Cairo in October 2022, called on the visiting Egyptian leader and said the exchange “adds a new vigour” to the bilateral friendship.
  • President El Sisi said the relations between the two civilisations date back to antiquity, and said that Egypt wishes to welcome more Indian tourists.
  • The two teams signed five memorandums of understanding (MoU) covering culture, cooperation on youth matters, cybersecurity, information and technology, and public broadcasting. The two delegations launched a commemorative stamp to mark the 75th anniversary of bilateral diplomatic relations.
  • A military contingent from Egypt will participate in the Republic Day parade.
  • An invitation to the Egyptian President this year is considered significant, especially when India’s ties with Muslim-majority countries were tested following controversial remarks made by then BJP spokesperson Nupur Sharma in June last year.
  • That Egypt was one of the few countries from the Arab world which did not react officially to the controversial remarks was not lost in New Delhi.

Previous meetings:

  • This was their first meeting since 2017, India and Egypt are working overtime to deepen cooperation in areas as diverse as agriculture, cybersecurity, defence, trade, tourism, and education.
  • Sisi had earlier visited India in October 2015 to participate in the third India-Africa Forum Summit, and in September 2016 on a state visit.

What is the significance of a Republic Day invite?

  • An invitation to be the Republic Day chief guest is highly symbolic from the Indian government’s perspective
  • The choice of chief guest every year is dictated by a number of reasons — strategic and diplomatic, business interests, and international geo-politics.

What is the history of India-Egypt relations?

  • India and Egypt share close political understanding based on a long history of cooperation in bilateral, regional and global issues.
  • The joint announcement of establishment of diplomatic relations at the Ambassadorial level was made on August 18, 1947.
  • India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Egypt’s President Gamal Abdel Nasser signed the Friendship Treaty between the two countries, and they were key to forming the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) along with Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito.
  • Since the 1980s, there have been four Prime Ministerial visits from India to Egypt: Rajiv Gandhi (1985); P V Narasimha Rao (1995); IK Gujral (1997); and Dr. Manmohan Singh(2009, NAM Summit).
  • From the Egyptian side, President Hosni Mubarak visited India in 1982, in 1983 (NAM Summit), and again in 2008.
  • High-level exchanges with Egypt continued after the 2011 Egyptian Revolution and then President Mohamed Morsi visited India in March 2013

What’s the state of bilateral trade relations?

  • Egypt has traditionally been one of India’s most important trading partners in the African continent.
  • The India-Egypt bilateral trade agreement has been in operation since March 1978 and is based on the most-favoured-nation clause.
  • Bilateral trade between India and Egypt achieved a record high of $7.26 billion in FY 2021-22.
  • The trade was fairly balanced, with $3.74 billion Indian exports to Egypt and $3.52 billion worth of imports by India.
  • More than 50 Indian companies have invested around $3.15 billion in diverse sectors of the Egyptian economy, including chemicals, energy, textile, garment, agri-business, retail.

What are the other areas of cooperation?

  • Egypt, which is facing a shortage of food grains as its major sources were the warring Ukraine and Russia, wants to buy wheat from India. In May last year, India — which had put a ban on sale of wheat — allowed export of 61,000 tonnes to Egypt. But the country wants more grains, in view of the shortages.
  • Egypt’s President is also coming at a time when the country is facing a massive economic crisis due to depleted forex reserves. While there has been no request for budgetary support, India is looking at increasing investments in the country, especially in major infrastructure projects in and around the Suez Canal, in terms of special economic zones in Alexandria and Cairo.
  • Egypt is also keen to push for more tourism from India, and ease movement of people so that there is more forex inflow into their tourism-dependent economy.
  • With Sisi being a former Army chief, Egypt is interested in procuring defence equipment from India, which includes LCA Tejas, missiles like Akash, DRDO’s Smart Anti-Airfield Weapon, and radars.
  • The two countries will also look at the education sector, where Indian higher educational institutions can set up campuses in Egypt: a proposal for establishing an IIT in Egypt is in the works.

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