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India-Egypt sign pact to elevate ties to 'Strategic Partnership'

  • Published
    26th Jun, 2023
Context

India and Egypt has elevated their relationship to a 'Strategic Partnership' with a particular focus on enhancing Political and security cooperation.

  • As, the Indian Prime Minister is on state-visit of Egypt, on an invitation from President El-Sisi, the deal has took place on many counts.

What does 'Strategic Partnership' mean?

  • A 'strategic relationship', as the term suggests, involves a shared understanding between the two or more states involved on the nature of threats in the environment and the place of their collective power in helping mitigate the threats.
  • This does not amount to an ‘alliance’, meaning a deeper relationship in which the states are treaty bound to come to each other’s assistance in case of materialisation of a threat against any member state.

Highlights of the visit:

  • It was the first bilateral visit by an Indian Prime Minister to Egypt in 26 years.
  • During the visit, Four MoUs and agreements were signed, including the "Strategic Partnership" between India and Egypt.
  • Both countries gave a particular focus on enhancing the political and security cooperation, defence collaboration, trade and investment ties, scientific and academic collaboration and strengthening of people to people ties.
  • Besides the agreement on strategic partnership, the two countries also signed three more pacts on — agriculture and allied sectors; protection and preservation of monuments and archaeological sites; and competition law.

India-Egypt relations:

Historical aspect:

  • 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.
  • Egypt has traditionally been one of India’s most important trading partners in the African continent.
  • India and Egypt share close political understanding based on a long history of cooperation in bilateral, regional and global issues.
  • Diplomatic relations were established on August 18, 1947 (completed 75 years in 2022).
  • India’s PM 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 in 1961) along with Yugoslav President Josip Broz Tito.
  • High-level exchanges with Egypt continued post 2011 Egyptian Revolution and the new government led by President (Sisi) took over in 2014.
  • When the Egyptian President paid a State visit to India in 2016, a joint statement was issued, outlining the three pillars–
    • Political-security cooperation,
    • Economic engagement and scientific collaboration and
    • Cultural and people-people ties as the basis of a new partnership for a new era.

Economic aspect:

  • The India-Egypt Bilateral Trade Agreement: has been in operation since March 1978 and is based on the Most Favoured Nation clause.
    • The bilateral trade has increased more than five times (USD 26 billion in 2021-22 – a 75% increase from FY 2020-2021) in the past 10 years.
  • Agriculture: Egypt is currently facing a shortage of food grains as its major sources were the warring Ukraine and Russia. In May last year, India- which had put a ban on the sale of wheat, allowed the export of 61,000 tonnes of wheat to Egypt.

Why Relations with Egypt significant for India?

Egypt is beneficial for both the nation:

  • Balancing geopolitical issues: - Recent visit is an important step in balancing the Arab-Israel contact.
    • Egypt can play an important role in the leadership of Middle East.
    • Improving relation with Egypt will give us strategic advantage in Middle East.
    • It will help in curbing terrorism through mutual cooperation and information sharing.
  • Close cooperation in Counter-terrorism (Egypt is a major power in Middle East fighting ISIS) & Maritime security efforts in Middle East which is becoming vulnerable to pirate threats & Yemen unrest since Arab Spring.
    • Egypt has expressed its interest to buy Indian missiles can have positive impact in making middle east & Egypt in particular strategically secure.
    • Suez Canal route – its safety and security, are critical for Indian Maritime exports to Europe. India must support Egypt’s initiatives to make it secure. Suez Canal route is important till the time INSTC (International North-South Transport Corridor) route gets completed
  • Maritime engagement through coordinated drills & exercises. Sisi gov close ties with Israel provides India will crucial opportunity to strategically engage with Egypt without aggrieving Israel, a crucial strategic partner of India
  • Oil Exports – Egypt being largest Oil producer Outside OPEC can help India meet its energy demands

India’s role:

  • India is playing an important role in economic development of Egypt.
  • India can invest in banking, pharmaceutical and insurance sector while Egypt can be developed as major source of oil import.
  • Pan Africa e-Network Project:
    • The Pan Africa e-Network Project, one of the flagship programmes of the Indian Government to strengthen ties with Africa, has been operational through an E-learning Centre since July 2009 at Alexandria University.
    • The Tele-medicine Centre under the Project also became operational in November 2009 at the Centre for Women’s Health and Development in Alexandria.
    • The programme offers online medical consultation in various medical disciplines.
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