Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi concluded a three-day visit to India on Friday. Egypt and India upgraded their political, economic and military relations during the trip.
What happened: Sisi arrived in India on Tuesday and met Prime Minister Narendra Modi the following day. On Thursday, Sisi and an Egyptian army contingent participated for the first time in an Indian military parade for the South Asian country’s Republic Day celebrations.
An Egyptian army contingent particpating in India's Republic day military parade for the first time ever, in presence of Egypt's President al-Sisi. pic.twitter.com/oSC0d9DN1a— Mahmoud Gamal (@mahmouedgamal44) January 26, 2023
During the visit, Egypt and India decided to upgrade their relations to the level of a “strategic partnership.” The two countries pledged to work closer together on political, security, defense, energy and economic matters, according to a statement from the Egyptian presidency.
Sisi also met with Indian businesspeople and specifically sought investments in the following sectors:
- Health care
- Skills development
- Information technology
Indian billionaire Gautam Adani was among those who met Sisi. Adani, whose eponymous company recently completed its purchase of Haifa Port in Israel, said there are opportunities for cooperation with Egypt regarding ports and logistics, energy and digital matters.
An honour to have met HE President Sisi and his ministers on his visit to India and hear from him about his ambitious development plans for Egypt. Great possibilities in the Ports and Logistics, Energy and Digital sectors. We look forward to engaging. @AlsisiOfficial @MfaEgypt pic.twitter.com/jKAxm1HWyH— Gautam Adani (@gautam_adani) January 26, 2023
The Indian renewable energy firm ReNew Power also expressed “huge interest” in cooperating with Egypt on green hydrogen production, Egypt’s state-owned news outlet Al-Ahram reported.
Like other countries in the region, Egypt is exploring the use of green hydrogen alongside other renewable energy forms.
Sisi and Modi also set a goal of reaching $12 billion in bilateral trade within five years. Trade between Egypt and India amounted to $7.26 billion in the fiscal year that ended in March 2022. Egypt also said it is considering allocating an area of land for Indian industries in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, the presidency said in the statement.
Egypt is seeking more foreign investment in the Suez Canal.
Why it matters: Egypt and India have been growing closer for some time. India recently invited Egypt to attend the upcoming G20 summit in New Delhi. Egypt also sought to import wheat from India last year due to the disruptions caused by the Ukraine war. Last September, the Egyptian and Indian defense ministries signed a memorandum of understanding to further cooperation.
India is seeking stronger ties with a variety of Middle Eastern states. Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian visited India last year. Last August, Saudi Arabia signed a mining agreement with several Indian firms. India and the United Arab Emirates also signed a trade agreement last year.
India’s relations with the Middle East are improving despite the documented bigotry Muslims in India are facing under Modi.
Relatedly, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Iran and others condemned statements made by an Indian politician last year that criticized the Prophet Muhammad.
Egypt forging closer ties with India could also please the United States. Egypt's relations with China have strengthened considerably in recent years, prompting concern from Washington.
Know more: Sisi flew from India to Azerbaijan Friday. The president will meet his Azerbaijani counterpart Ilham Aliyev as well as businesspeople from the country. The visit aims to boost political and economic relations between the two countries, according to Al-Ahram.