Tuesday, June 18, 2024

PM’s Egypt visit potential “game changer”, to boost Indian investment in country: Report

PMs Egypt visit

NEW DELHI, JUNE 25: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s 2-day visit to Egypt has been hailed by analysts as a potential “game changer” for bilateral ties, according to Al Jazeera.
The PM’s trip to Egypt is expected to pave the way for a substantial increase in India’s investment in the North African country and a ladder for Egypt to gain entry to the BRICS economic bloc. It is PM Modi’s first visit to Egypt as Prime Minister and the first by any Indian Prime Minister since 1997.
The visit comes months after Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s January visit to New Delhi when he was Chief Guest at India’s 74th Republic Day celebrations. El-Sisi was the first Egyptian President accorded the honour.
Prime Minister Modi’s visit has been viewed as strengthening the bilateral relations the two sides had already elevated to a strategic level during el-Sisi’s January visit. Analysts say it could also reveal the contours of how ties could unfurl in the days ahead, according to Al Jazeera.
Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) Official Spokesperson Arindam Bagchi has said: “This is a very quick, reciprocal visit coming just within 6 months of President Sisi’s visit to India. We do expect and are confident that the visit will not just ensure continuing momentum to the relationship between our two countries, but will also help expand it to new areas of trade and economic engagement.”
The visit from Egypt’s point of view is more about diversifying partnerships beyond the Western bloc. For India, observers have said it is to consolidate its position as a voice of the Global South as it gears up to host the G20 meeting in September in the capital New Delhi.
PM Modi, apart from bilateral talks and the signing of various trade agreements, will interact with the small Indian community and was expected to meet some prominent leaders in Egypt.
India and Egypt have enjoyed close ties as they were the founding numbers of the 1961 Non-Alignment Movement (NAM), a global forum of 120 developing countries that believed in the non-alignment of major power blocs.
Egypt’s President El-Sisi has travelled to India thrice. While Egypt has eyed increasing India’s investment in the country, experts said New Delhi is looking for deeper access to the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region through Cairo.
Aftab Kamal Pasha, who taught Middle Eastern Studies at the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, told Al Jazeera that Egypt and India have enjoyed friendly relations historically.
“There are clear limits to what he [PM Modi] can get from the GCC [Gulf Cooperation Council] states, so he turned to Egypt”, Pasha said.
Pasha said El-Sisi would like to see Egypt join BRICS, a powerful grouping of the world’s major economies including Brazil, Russia, India, and China.
PM Modi “wants to balance China in the organisation” and also to prevent Pakistan, which Beijing wants inside BRICS, from joining, he said. Expectations have been high that PM Modi will announce India’s support for Egypt’s desire to join BRICS.
According to analysts, close ties with Cairo can also hold significance for India. The most populous country in MENA, Egypt holds a crucial geostrategic significance as 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal.
Cairo can be a gateway to major markets in both Europe and Africa for India, experts said. India has also been concerned about China’s growing influence in Egypt.
Currently, China’s bilateral trade with Egypt stands at USD 15 billion, double that of India’s USD 7.26 billion in 2021-22. The latest bilateral trade reached USD 5.18 billion from April 22 to January 23.
Senior research fellow at the Indian Council of World Affairs (ICWA), New Delhi, Fazzur Rahman Siddiqui, told Al Jazeera that India intends to emerge as a significant power in the Global South.
“Since Modi came to power, India has tried to broaden its foreign policy outreach. India has opened almost 20 new missions on the African continent”, Siddiqui said.
“Egypt has lost its voice in regional affairs like in Palestine, Ethiopia, and many African countries over the years. The kind of say it used to have; they have lost their shine. And Egypt is now looking beyond the continent, and India happens to be potential for its growing stature.”
He said by allying with Egypt, India could have a deeper access to the Arab world, Africa, and much deeper access to Israel. After taking over the G20 presidency in December 2022, India has invited Egypt to participate as a “guest country”. (ANI)