April 2, 2023

India-Egypt Relations

General Studies Paper 2


  • Recently, on the occasion of the 74th Republic Day, the President of Egypt was invited as the chief guest at the parade, this is the first time that an Egyptian President has been accorded this honour.
  • A military contingent from Egypt also participated in the parade.
  • Note:An invitation to be Chief Guest is an important honour that is very high on symbolism. New Delhi’s choice of Chief Guest every year is dictated by a number of reasons — strategic and diplomatic, business interest, and geopolitics.

What is the Status of the India-Egypt Relationship?

  • History:
    • The history of contact between India and Egypt, two of the world’s oldest civilisations, can be traced back to at least the time of Emperor Ashoka.
      • Ashoka’s edicts refer to his relations with Egypt under Ptolemy-II.
    • In modern times, Mahatma Gandhi and the Egyptian revolutionary Saad Zaghloul shared the common goal of Independence from British colonial rule.
      • The joint announcement of establishment of diplomatic relations at Ambassadorial level was made on 18 August 1947.
    • India and Egypt signed a friendship treaty in 1955.In 1961, India and Egypt along with Yugoslavia, Indonesia and Ghana established the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM).
  • In 2016, the joint statement between India and Egypt identified political-security cooperation, economic engagement and scientific collaboration, and cultural and people-people ties as the basis of a new partnership for a new era.
  • Recent Scenario:
    • During this year’s meeting, both India and Egypt agreed to elevate the bilateral relationship to a “strategic partnership”.
      • The strategic partnership will have broadly four elements:political, defence, and security; economic engagement; scientific and academic collaboration; cultural and people-to-people contacts.
    • India and Egypt signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for three years to facilitate content exchange, capacity building, and co-productions between Prasar Bharati and the National Media Authority of Egypt.
      • Under the pact, both broadcasters will exchange their programmes of different genres like sports, news, culture, entertainment on bilateral basis.
    • A Partner within the OIC:
      • India views Egypt as a moderate Islamic voice among Muslim-majority countries, and as a partner within the Organization for Islamic Cooperation (OIC).
    • Terrorism & Defence:
      • During this Republic Day meeting, India and Egypt expressed concerns about the spread of terrorism around the world as it is the most serious security threat to humanity. Consequently, the two countries agreed that concerted action is necessary to end  cross-border terrorism.
      • The two countries are looking at deepening defence and security cooperation. Moreover, the two Air Forces collaborated on the development of fighter aircraft in the 1960s, and Indian pilots trained their Egyptian counterparts from the 1960s until the mid-1980s.
        • Both the  Indian Air Force (IAF) and Egyptian air force fly the French Rafale fighter jets.
      • In 2022, a pact was signed between the two countries that have decided to also participate in exercises and cooperate in training.
      • The first joint special forces exercise between the Indian Army and the Egyptian Army, “Exercise Cyclone-I”has been underway since 14 January 2023 in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
    • Cultural Relations:
      • The Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) was established in Cairo in 1992. The centre has been promoting cultural cooperation between the two countries.
    • Difficult Time for Egypt:
      • Egypt’s economy has been in chaos over the past few years due to the pandemic and the Russia-Ukraine war which impacted its supply of food as almost 80% of Egypt’s grain imported from Rusia and Ukraine and impacted Egypt’s foreign exchange reserves.
  • In 2022, despite restrictions on the export of wheat India allowed shipments of 61,500 metric tonnes to Egypt.
  • From India, Egypt is seeking investments in infrastructure including Metro projects, a  Suez Canal  economic zone, a second channel of the Suez Canal, and a new administrative capital in Egypt.
    • More than 50 Indian companies have invested more than USD 3.15 billion in Egypt.
  • Geo-Strategic Concerns:
    • China’s bilateral trade with Egypt is currently at USD 15 billion, double that of India’s USD 7.26 billion in 2021-22.During the past eight years, the President of Egypt has traveled to China seven times to lure Chinese investments.
    • Egypt, the most populous country in West Asia, occupies a crucial geo-strategic location— 12% of global trade passes through the Suez Canal and is a key player in the region.
      • It is a major market for India and can act as a gateway to both Europe and Africa. However, it also has bilateral trade pacts with important West Asian and African nations which is a cause of concern for India.
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