India-Egypt Relations: Latest Developments

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    • India has invited Egypt as a special guest for the G-20 summit which shows our age-old relationship. 
      • The President of Egypt, Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, was the chief guest at the 74th Republic Day parade.

    India-Egypt relations

    • Historical: India and Egypt, two of the world’s oldest civilizations, have enjoyed a history of close contact from ancient times. 
      • Even prior to the Common Era, Ashoka’s edicts refer to his relations with Egypt under Ptolemy II.
    •  In modern times, Mahatma Gandhi and the Egyptian revolutionary Saad Zaghloul shared a common goal on independence from British colonial rule, and the two nations made a joint announcement of the establishment of diplomatic relations at the ambassadorial level three days after India became free.
      • The two countries are celebrating the 75th anniversary of establishing diplomatic ties. 
    • A Friendship Treaty was signed between Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1955.
    • Relationship since 2014: The year 2015 has seen more intense political cooperation between the two countries with regular interactions at the leadership and Ministerial levels. 
      • PM Shri Narendra Modi met President Sisi on the sidelines of UNGA, New York in September 2015. 
      • Their talks focussed on counter-terrorism, deepening economic engagement, and regional issues. 
    • The ties have been on an upswing in the recent past and both delegations supported reform of the UN Security Council, where Egypt was a non-permanent member during 2016-17 and India had a similar stint during 2021-22. 

    Latest Developments 

    • India and Egypt signed five MoUs covering culture, cooperation on youth matters, cyber security, information and technology (IT) and public broadcasting. 
    • They reaffirmed their commitment to multilateralism, the principles of the United Nations Charter, international law, the founding values of the Non-Aligned Movement, and respect for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states.
    • They agreed to “initiate new engagements to intensify military-to-military engagements” and planned more joint exercises between the armed forces of the two countries. 
    • They agreed to fight terrorism in all forms, “including cross-border terrorism” and intensify consultation between their respective National Security Councils.
    • They have expressed exploring the possibility of land allocation to Indian Industries at the Suez Canal Economic Zone.
      •  The Suez Canal connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea.
      •  It is one of the world’s biggest trade routes. As of now, the trade route is essential to keep alive around 12 percent of the global trade that passes through it each day. 

    Significance 

    • Egypt, the most populous country in West Asia, occupies a crucial geo-strategic location — 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal — and is a key player in the region. 
      • It is a major market for India and can act as a gateway to both Europe and Africa.
      • It also has bilateral trade pacts with important West Asian and African nations.
    • Egypt’s relationship with India was also helped by its display of pragmatism especially in the backdrop of the Nupur Sharma controversy of 2022 when Cairo maintained silence while certain Gulf countries were vocal in India’s criticism.
    • The joint cooperation will help eliminate violence because the spread of violence, terrorism, and extremist ideology represents a serious threat not only to the two countries but also to all countries around the world.

    Concerns 

    • India and Egypt are “worried about the spread of terrorism happening around the world” and they are “unanimous” that terrorism is the “most serious security threat” to humanity.
    • Misuse of cyberspace to spread extremist ideologies and radicalisation is a growing menace. 
    • Egypt’s economy has been in shambles over the past few years. It was battered by the collapse of tourism during the pandemic, and the Russia-Ukraine war has impacted its supply of food — almost 80% of Egypt’s grain came from these two countries — and hit its foreign exchange reserves.
    •  Despite restrictions on the export of wheat, India had last year allowed shipments of 61,500 metric tonnes to Egypt. 
      • But the country needs more.
    • China’s bilateral trade with Egypt is currently at $15 billion, double that of India’s $7.26 billion in 2021-22. 
      • Sisi has been wooing Chinese investments, and has travelled to China as many as seven times in the last eight years

    Conclusion and Way Forward 

    • Concerted action is necessary to end cross-border terrorism” and they will have to together alert the international community.
    • More than six decades ago, the two countries founded the NAM. They now have an opportunity to forge a new path ahead, not just for their strategic and economic interests, but as the voice of the Global South.

    Source: TH