By Farah Atia
The School for Global Affairs and Public Policy (GAPP) at the American University in Cairo, the Embassy of India in Cairo and the Observer Research Foundation in Delhi concluded a two-day Egypt-India Dialogue on Monday. The event drew lessons from the Indian experience for post-revolution Egypt.
“India is a developing country like Egypt that went through this transformation before and has many similarities, like poverty and inequality, so their experience is very important for us to understand,” said Dr Khaled Amin, associate professor at GAPP and one of the speakers at the event. He added that Egypt needs to establish new international relationships with similar developing countries like India and China, adding that such experiences can be more beneficial to Egypt than with developed countries with which Egypt has been focusing on strengthening its relationship for so long.
Following President Mohamed Morsi’s visit to India in March, the two countries signed an agreement between the Egypt’s Ministry of Electricity and Energy and India’s Ministry of New and Renewable Energy to electrify a village in Egypt with solar power. According to state-run Al-Ahram, several Indian companies representing various industries agreed to spend up to $400m on projects in Egypt. Up to $300m of that would come from the Sanmar Group, a chemicals conglomerate, and another $100m is expected from the Egyptian-Indian Polyester Company. Sanmar already has a plastics operation in Port Said and Egyptian-Indian Polyester has a plant in Ain Sokhna, on the Gulf of Suez.
In his opening remarks, Navdeep Suri, India’s ambassador to Cairo, spoke of the strong and multi-dimensional relationship between Egypt and India and the initiatives that have been taken to promote collaborations in diverse areas like science and technology, space research, information technology and small and medium enterprises.
“We need to supplement these programmes with a conscious drive to promote closer ties between think-tanks, universities, civil society organizations and at the people to people level. The dialogue between the Observer Research Foundation of India and GAPP in Egypt is an important step in this direction,” Suri said.
Bilateral trade between the two countries has increased significantly in the recent years in spite of Egypt’s political transition and currently stands at $5.5bn. India, one of the world’s fastest growing economies, is Egypt’s seventh-largest trading partner and second largest destination for its exports. More than 50 Indian companies have a presence in Egypt in various sectors, and cumulative Indian investments in Egypt amount to more than $2.5bn.