At a time when India and Egypt have agreed to boost mutual trade to $8 billion per year by 2015,Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi is visiting India from March 18 to 21 as the head of a high-level delegation of ministers and business leaders.
The new Egyptian government headed by Morsi is “looking at a much deeper engagement with India,looking to diversify their relationship,and they genuinely look at India as a country from which they can access our knowledge,experience and expertise in information technology,microfinance and small and medium enterprises,” said Indian ambassador to Egypt Navdeep Suri.
With the trade between the two sides having witnessed a record 30% jump,the Egyptian leader had voiced keenness to learn from India about capacity building,so that he can address the problem of unemployment,and also to learn from India’s pluralism.
“This is an important issue that Egypt is looking at,” said Rajeev Shahare,Joint Secretary,West Asia and North Africa (WANA).
According to Suri,Egypt has also requested India to set up a centre of excellence in IT at the famed Al Azhar University in Cairo. “The request has come from them,to add to their curriculum,and is also seeking India’s help in launching a nano satellite.”
In the wake of the Egyptian leader’s visit,both the country hold the fourth Joint Defence Committee meeting next month,Shahare said.
Despite the political tumult in that country economic engagement between the two sides has been growing with bilateral trade notching up a “record increase” of 30% to $4.5 billion from $3.2 billion earlier. Calculated in the Indian fiscal year terms,it would be even higher at $5.2 billion,said Suri.
This trade profile makes India the seventh largest trading partner of Egypt and the second most important destination for its exports.
Around 50 Indian companies have a presence in Egypt including Aditya Birla,Kirloskar and Dabur. Indian investment in Egypt is $2.5 billion.
The two countries have explored their future economic potential during a trade committee meeting where India hoped it would emerge as a preferred source of high quality and competitively-priced products in different areas,from pharmaceuticals and vaccines to information and communications technology.
With a plan to develop factories and training in Cairo’s Shubra Al-Kheima district funded by the Indian government,the two sides have decided to set up local committees to monitor and expand trade ties.
“…we hope that in the coming years,these will pave the way for the emergence of India as the preferred source of high quality and competitively priced products in vital sectors such as pharmaceuticals and vaccines,agricultural commodities like wheat for which India now has a substantial surplus and state-of-the-art products and services in information and communications technology sector,” an official said.
According to officials,President Morsi’s visit to India will help foster mutual trade relations between Egypt and India and showcase Egypt’s determination to facilitate cooperation between the two counties.