Prospects for developing Egypt-India relations: Visit of the Ambassador of India to ECFA
On March 29, 2022, ECFA received the Ambassador of India to Cairo, Ajit Gupte, at his request; to discuss Egypt-India relations and the prospects for their development. The symposium was opened by Ambassador Dr. Mounir Zahran, ECFA Chairman, and was attended by members of the Council, including experts, specialists and those interested in Indian affairs. Ambassador Gupte reviewed the history of Egyptia-India relations, indicating that they are close and important; as he referred to the contacts that took place between the two leaders Saad Zaghloul and Mahatma Gandhi during the British colonial era for both Egypt and India, as well as the participation of Indian soldiers in World War I and II, and the presence of tens of hundreds of Indian soldiers who died during that in Egypt, then the signing of a friendship agreement between Egypt India in April 1955, which was rooted in the orientations of the two leaders Gamal Abdel Nasser and Jawaharlal Nehru within the framework of the Non-Aligned Movement, leading to the great momentum that these relations witnessed since 2015 specifically; with the exchange of high-level visits between the two sides, including the visit of former Indian Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj to Egypt in August 2015, the visit of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi to India in October 2015 and September 2016, and the visit of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in March 2018, to hold the seventh session of the Joint Cooperation Commission.
In the same context, Ambassador Gupte indicated that India is Egypt’s fifth largest trading partner and the sixth largest exporter to it between April 2021 and January 2022; as India’s imports from Egypt were estimated at $2.86 billion, while India’s exports to Egypt amounted to more than $3 billion, and bilateral trade is estimated to rise to about $7 billion by the end of this year. On the other hand, in terms of scientific and technical cooperation, there are more than 1,500 grants guaranteed by the Indian government to Egyptians in various fields. Related activities have also witnessed great momentum since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, including what was done virtually, and others that included cultural and exhibition festivals in different regions inside and outside the two countries. Ambassador Gupte went on to talk about the Indian economy as an emerging economic power, referring to the importance of strengthening bilateral cooperation between the two sides to maximize the Egyptian benefits from that growing trend. He pointed out that India is the world’s fastest growing economy, and is expected to be among the 3 largest economies in the world within 10 or 15 years. In a related context, India jumped 79 places in the Global Competitiveness Index between 2014 (142) and 2019 (63), while it hopes to reduce its carbon emissions by 1 billion tons by 2030, while hosting the second largest renewable energy project with a capacity of 30 megawatts of hybrid energy (solar-wind) in Gujarat region.
Regarding the opportunities that can be exploited to strengthen relations between the Egyptian and Indian sides, Ambassador Gupte indicated that there are vast areas to do so, including the field of information technology, chemical industries, cosmetics, renewable energy (especially green ammonia and green hydrogen) and machinery, as well as promoting cooperation in oil and gas exploration in the East Mediterranean and the Red Sea by Indian companies. It is worth mentioning that four Indian companies contacted Egyptian companies about investments of approximately 9 billion dollars in the field of green ammonia. ECFA Chairman thanked the Indian Ambassador, expressing his aspiration to complete the next round of consultations between the Egyptian Council for Foreign Affairs and its Indian counterpart, as the last round was held in 2017 in Cairo.