egypt: India not only open to business but also focused on working with Egypt: Jaishankar

External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said on Sunday that India is not only open to business but also focused on working with Egypt to see what the two countries can make through their cooperation in the region and at the global level. Jaishankar, who is on his maiden official visit at the invitation of his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Shoukry, made the remarks while addressing a meeting of the India-Egypt Business Forum in Cairo.

“My message to you today is not just that India is open to business, but that India is specifically focused on working with Egypt to see what difference we can make through our mutual benefit in the region and at the global level,” he said.

Noting that after the COVID pandemic not everybody has recovered to the same degree, he said, “we are at the more optimistic end of the spectrum. There is a great appetite for doing business not just at home but going abroad.”

The event was attended by a wide representation from chemicals, manufacturing, fertilizers, education, renewable energy, retail, pharma and service industry.

Egypt has traditionally been one of India’s most important trading partners in the African continent. Bilateral trade has expanded rapidly in 2021-22, amounting to 7.26 billion registering a 75 per cent increase compared to FY 2020-21, according to the Indian embassy in Egypt.

Jaishankar, who earlier in the day called on Abdel Fattah El Sisi, said the Egyptian President told him that he doesn’t think it’s enough, referring to the trade turnover of USD 7.2 billion.

“So, he (the President) asked us to find ways of increasing (the trade volume),” the minister said, adding that is also the thinking of Prime Minister Narendra Modi as well.

“One obvious way of doing so is to really focus on the impediments that we may have to (face in) expanding business,” he said, underling the factors such as the market access issues, possibilities of investments, production implication and even buy back possibilities.

He noted that this year is the first year after a gap or perhaps the first year ever that Egypt has bought wheat from India.

He said that one of the big challenges today facing the world is actually the security of fertilisers.

“On paper, maybe there are no obstacles to fertiliser trade. In reality, there are challenges and to the extent there are reliable supplies which can be accessed on a predictable basis. That is something which directly contributes to food security,” he said, noting that these are the areas which can be unlocked.

He also voiced concern over climate change, describing it as a disruptive factor.

“I will say the urgency with which climate emergencies and events will be looked at is growing…if you have to find sustainable solutions, the sustainable solutions are not going to come only out of conferences, policies will come up at conferences. Ultimately, policies will have to be translated into business if you have to be sustained,” he said.

Egypt is hosting the CoP 27 in November.

Jaishankar said that well reputed Indian companies are coming out to destinations like Egypt. “I think this says a lot. It says a lot about our companies and it says a lot about your credibility as an investment destination. So I really see today a world of possibilities.”

On inadequate air connectivity between the two countries, he said it’s a “reasonable business demand which we will have to find ways of addressing.” \

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