Diplomatist Special Report: West Asia - North Africa 2018 WANA 2018 - Page 22

SPECIAL REPORT India and Egypt: Economic Reconstruction and Stabilization By SAMEENA HAMEED* T raditionally, Egypt has been one of India’s most important trading partners in the African continent while India is its sixth largest trading partner. However, the violence and instability that has convulsed Egypt in recent years have adversely bilateral trade. India-Egypt Economic Relations: A Sturdy Foundation According to the Indian Ministry of Commerce, whereas the total value of trade was $5.42 billion in 2011-12, it dropped to 4.76 billion in 2014-15. Yet, despite this downturn, India is still Egypt’s second largest export destination and tenth largest source of imports. India’s commercial presence in Egypt is significant. About fi fty-two Indian companies are operating in Egypt, twenty-fi ve of them are joint ventures with a combined investment of nearly $3 billion spread across various sectors. Indian companies are also active in Egyptian energy sector. ONGC Videsh and Reliance have stakes in oil exploration blocks. GAIL India Limited, country’s fl agship gas company has equity participation in three Egyptian companies in the CNG and City Gas sectors. An Indian company has designed supplied and constructed electric power transmission tower and laid 196 Km of transmission line in Egypt. It is also supplying overhead transmission towers between Egypt and Jordan. Indian companies provide direct and indirect employment to approximately 35,000 Egyptians. The top fi ve Indian companies alone, mainly in the labour intensive textile industry, provide direct employment to more than 12,800 Egyptians. Symbolic of deeper ties is the immense popularity of Indian movies in Egypt. India’s Potential Role in Reconstruction and Stabilization in Egypt The government of President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is placing its bet on large, ambitious construction projects. One such project has entailed the widening and deepening of the Suez Canal, at an estimated cost of $8 billion, which aims to double traffi c and generate annual revenues of more than $12.5 billion. However, for India, participating in projects such as the expansion of the Suez Canal might not be the most suitable way of contributing to Egypt’s future, especially given the pressures that Cairo faces in meeting the population’s basic needs as well as in developing its human capital. But there are several ways where Indian investment and expertise could make its mark. External Affairs Minister calls on President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Abdel Fattah Al Sisi in Cairo, Egypt (August 24, 2015) 22 •West Asia-North Africa