• India and Egypt, which are two of the world’s oldest cultures, have had close ties since the beginning of time.
Even before the Common Era, Ashoka’s edicts talk about how he worked with Egypt when Ptolemy II was in charge.
• In modern times, Mahatma Gandhi and the Egyptian revolutionary Saad Zaghloul both wanted their countries to be free from British colonial rule. Three days after India got its freedom, the two countries made a joint announcement that they were establishing diplomatic ties at the ambassadorial level.
The two countries are celebrating the 75th anniversary of when they first started talking to each other as diplomats.
• In 1955, Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and President Gamal Abdel Nasser signed a treaty of friendship.
The Non-Aligned Movement came about because of this connection.
• Relationship since 2014: In 2015, political cooperation between the two countries got stronger, and leaders and ministers from both countries talked to each other often.
In September 2015, PM Shri Narendra Modi met with President Sisi at UNGA in New York.
Their talks were mostly about fighting terrorism, deepening economic ties, and problems in the area.
• Relations between the two countries have been getting better recently, and both delegations backed reforming the UN Security Council, where Egypt was a non-permanent member in 2016–17 and India was in 2021–22.
• Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, the president of Egypt, was the most important speaker at the 74th Republic Day parade in 2023.
During their meeting this year, India and Egypt both decided to take their relationship to the next level and make it a “strategic partnership.”
India and Egypt signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) for three years to help Prasar Bharati and the National Media Authority of Egypt share material, build their skills, and work together on projects.
Table of Contents
Areas of Cooperation
• In 1947, both countries’ ambassadors made a joint statement that diplomatic ties would be set up.
• Both countries have worked closely together in international settings and were among the first people to join the Non-Aligned Movement.
• In 2021, Egypt sent three planes full of medical goods to India because of the covid pandemic.
• The Embassy of India also signed a deal with M/s EVA Pharma, Egypt, to buy 300,000 doses of REMDESEVIR.
• Engagement between India and the LAS: The 3rd Meeting of the Arab-India Cooperation Forum took place online in 2021.
• The talks were mostly about things that both countries cared about on a regional and international level. This included working together on diagnosing and treating the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as working together more on the economy, trade, and investments, energy and the environment, agriculture and food security, science and technology, the media, developing human resources, and other things.
• The year 2022 is important because it will be the 75th anniversary of India and Egypt having formal ties.
• During Operation Sankalp, when tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran were high, the Indian Navy accompanied oil tankers through the Strait of Hormuz. This was a good example of how India’s role in the area has changed from fighting pirates to protecting its own assets and interests.
• The India-Egypt Bilateral Trade Agreement has been in place since March 1978. It is built on the Most Favoured Nation clause, and trade between the two countries has grown by more than five times in the last ten years.
• Trade between the two countries was worth $4.55 billion in 2018-19. Even though Pandemic happened, the amount of trade went down by only a little bit, to US$4.5 billion in 2019-20 and US$4.15 billion in 2020-21.
• In 2021-22, trade between India and Egypt reached a new high of $7.26 billion, which was a record.
• India sent $3.74 billion worth of goods to Egypt, and Egypt sent $3.52 billion worth of goods to India.
• Completed grants-in-aid projects include the Pan Africa Tele-medicine and Tele-education project at Alexandria University, the Solar electrification project in Agaween village, and the Vocational Training Centre for Textile Technology in Shoubra, Cairo. Since 2000, ITEC and other programmes like ICCR and IAFS scholarships have helped more than 1,250 Egyptian government workers.
• ICAR and the Agricultural studies Centre of Egypt work together on agricultural studies in the field of scientific cooperation.
Science and Technology
• “Science and Technology” cooperation is carried out by CSIR (India) and NRC (Egypt) through their annual Executive Programmes and Scientific Cooperation Programmes.
• In 2016, the first meeting of the Joint Working Group on Cyber Issues took place in New Delhi.
• In 2017, the 4th Joint Committee Meeting on Science and Technology was held in New Delhi.
• In 2017, the 2nd ISRO-NARSS JWG meeting was held in Cairo.
• In 2018 and 2019, India and Egypt hosted workshops on agriculture biotechnology and nanotechnology in Shillong and Mumbai, respectively.
• Since February 2019, CEIT, an IT centre at Al Azhar University, is also open.
Relations in Defence:
• The Air Forces worked together closely, and in the 1960s, they tried to make an attack plane together.
In 2018, the 8th Joint Defence Committee (JDC) meeting took place in New Delhi. In 2019, the 9th JDC was held in Cairo.
• From the 1960s until 1984, Egyptian pilots were also taught by IAF pilots.
Joint military Committee (JDC) activities decide most of the current military cooperation. Egypt took part in the 2019 Multinational Training Exercise for friendly African countries in Pune. Dessert Warrior was the name of the first IAF-EAF Joint Tactical Air Exercise. It took place in 2021.
• Since January 2023, the Indian Army’s special forces and the Egyptian Army’s special forces have been working together in a joint drill called “Exercise Cyclone-I” in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan.
• The Maulana Azad Centre for Indian Culture (MACIC) has been promoting cultural cooperation between the two countries through regular activities like Hindi, Urdu, and Yoga classes, seminars, film shows, exhibitions, and participation in local cultural events.
• In July 2017, the Embassy’s flagship Arabic magazine, “Sawt-ul-Hind,” published its 500th edition, showing the strong bond and mutual respect between the two countries.
At the moment, there are about 3200 Indian people living in Egypt. Most of them live in Cairo.
• India and Egypt are “worried about the spread of terrorism around the world,” and they agree that terrorism is the “most serious security threat” to humanity.
• Misusing cyberspace to spread extremist ideologies and radicalise people is a growing threat.
• Egypt’s economy has been in shambles for the past few years. It was hurt by the drop in tourists during the pandemic, and the war between Russia and Ukraine has hurt its food supply and foreign exchange reserves. Nearly 80% of Egypt’s grain came from these two countries.
• Even though there were restrictions on wheat exports, India sent 61,500 metric tonnes to Egypt last year.
The country needs more, though.
• China’s trade with Egypt is worth $15 billion, which is twice as much as India’s trade with Egypt, which will be worth $7.26 billion in 2021-22.
Sisi has been trying to get Chinese companies to invest in her country. She has been to China seven times in the last eight years.
Egypt, which has the most people in West Asia, is in a key geostrategic location. Twelve percent of the world’s trade goes through the Suez Canal, and Egypt is a key player in the region. Egypt is a big market for India and can be a gateway to both Europe and Africa. But it also has private trade deals with important countries in West Asia and Africa, which worries India.
The next step
• The current state of India-Egypt ties means that it will take time and work to get to a more clear strategic position.
• Having defence drills as part of the opening is also a good way to build on access to meet Egypt’s defence needs. Even though India’s plan to sell its HAL Tejas jets to Egypt was unrealistic and overly ambitious, promoting defence, agriculture, information technology, and other areas of cooperation can help Cairo as it tries to broaden its economy.
• They will have to work together to warn the rest of the world about “cross-border terrorism” in order to stop it.
• The NAM was made by the two countries more than 60 years ago. Now, they have the chance to go in a new direction, not just for their own strategic and economic goals but also as the voice of the Global South.