President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s visited Russia twice, once in February 2014 while he was still serving as interim defence minister, and another in August after he officially took office.
Further, Russian President Vladimir Putin arrived in Cairo on 9 February.This was the first visit for Putin to Egypt since 2005. The visit is closely linked to talks that took place between the two presidents during Al-Sisi’s visit to the Russian resort of Sochi in August 2014. The western sanctions imposed on Russia pushed Moscow to try to diversity and intensify its ties with non-Western partners, Egypt being one of them, especially in light of the cooling of Egypt-US relations.
In Putin’s visit to Egypt, economic cooperation formed the core of talks between Egypt and Russia. Al-Sisi agreed with Putin to cooperate on establishing a Russian industrial zone in northern Ataka on the axis of the Suez Canal. In addition to this, a memorandum of understanding has been signed to establish the Dabaa nuclear power plant.
The trade balance between the two countries is in various sectors; mainly in construction materials, tourism, fresh produce, and furnishings, spinning and textiles.
Trade exchange between Egypt and Russia amounted to $5.5bn in 2014, according to Beliyaninov Andrey, head of the Russian Federal Customs Service. President Putin highlighted in a press conference in Cairo in February there has been an 80% increase in trade during 2014 compared to previous years.
Egyptian tourism witnessed a great influx from Russia over the past two years, as the number of Russian tourists reached 3 million tourists in 2014, achieving $2.5bn.
According to figures from General Organization for Exports and Imports Control (GOEIC), Egypt imported from Russia chemical materials and fertilisers worth EGP 256m in March, electronics worth EGP 275m, and furniture worth EGP 595m. Egypt imports construction materials worth EGP 1.263bn and EGP 341m from food industries, as well as EGP 28m from handicrafts.
The main Egyptian exports to Russia are agri-foods at EGP 1.156bn in April, and furnishings, spinning and textilesat EGP 1.25bn, in addition to exporting construction materials for EGP 5m. Food industries exports to Russia amounted to EGP 45m, handicraft exports amounted to EGP 12m, and medical products were at EGP 5m.