Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1360, (14 - 20 September 2017)
Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Issue 1360, (14 - 20 September 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Egypt looks east

During President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi’s two-day visit to Vietnam, nine memoranda of understanding were signed to boost ties between the two countries, reports Reem Leila

Egypt looks east
Egypt looks east

On 6 September President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi arrived in the Vietnamese capital Hanoi for two days. He laid a wreath at the tomb of Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh and the Monument of National Heroes and Martyrs before being received by Vietnam’s President Trần Đại Quang. After the official reception the two men presided over talks attended by delegation members.

During the visit Al-Sisi showcased Egypt’s development programme, including national mega projects, and new pro-investment legislative and administrative measures. Vietnam’s president responded by saying Vietnam was keen to promote greater economic cooperation with Egypt. “Current levels of economic cooperation are not commensurate with our two countries’ potential and we should work on increasing trade to $1 billion,” he said.

Al-Sisi stressed the need to address the existing trade imbalance between Egypt and Vietnam which has expressed interested in importing chemicals, medicines and cotton from Egypt.

The meeting touched on ways to strengthen bilateral cooperation in maritime transport, shipbuilding, agriculture, fish farming and IT and on formulating mechanisms to achieve greater cultural engagement between the peoples of the two countries. Combating terrorism and extremism was also on the agenda with both leaders agreeing on the need for concerted international efforts to confront the menace of extremism.

Al-Sisi underscored the importance of Al-Azhar’s role in the intellectual battle against terrorism and in disseminating the Islamic teachings which promote tolerance, moderation and acceptance of the other. He reiterated his condemnation of the violence in Myanmar which only feeds terrorism and extremist thought. “Governments have to assume their responsibilities in protecting the rights of minorities, providing them with security and entrenching the principles of citizenship,” said Al-Sisi.

President Al-Sisi and President Trần Đại Quang attended the signing ceremony for nine memoranda of understanding (MoU), including one establishing a subcommittee to oversee bilateral cooperation in the areas of trade and industry, another to promote cooperation between the two countries’ broadcasting authorities and a third to facilitate greater cooperation in the field of maritime trade. Memoranda were also signed in the fields of tourism and culture, investment, cooperation in fish farming and the construction and management of ports and economic zones.

On the sideline of his visit to Hanoi Al-Sisi met with Nguyễn Phú Trọng, the secretary-general of the Communist Party of Vietnam. Trong said Al-Sisi’s visit opened up prospects for expanding the longstanding cooperation between Egypt and Vietnam.

Al-Sisi said his trip reflected Egypt’s keenness to build on existing cooperation so as to benefit from Vietnam’s successful development experience and that Egypt was looking forward to increased cooperation between the two countries’ business communities.

On the second day of his visit to Vietnam Al-Sisi attended the Egyptian-Vietnamese Business Forum in Hanoi, organised by the Federation of Egyptian Chambers of Commerce in collaboration with the Vietnamese Chamber of Commerce. The forum focused on discussing ways to enhance trade and economic cooperation.

Al-Sisi briefed participants about the unprecedented economic measures — the floatation of the pound, the structuring of subsidies and adoption of a new unified investment law — Egypt has adopted. He also noted that Egypt was engaged in a number of mega projects, and stressed that schemes like the Suez Canal Area Development Project offered investment opportunities for Vietnamese companies seeking to benefit from Egypt’s strategic position as a centre for production and re-export.

Cairo University Faculty of Economics and Political Sciences professor Dalia Hegazi says Cairo has identified Vietnam as a priority in its “Look East” policy. “The visit reflects Egypt’s determination to upgrade diplomatic ties and enhance cooperation in all areas, from politics to economy, trade, investment and education,” said Hegazi.

Cairo University’s Aliya Al-Mahdi focused on the history of the relationship, underlining that Egypt supported Vietnam during its struggle for national independence. Though the two countries have long cooperated in international forums, Al-Mahdi says economic, trade and investment ties have yet to reach their full potential. In 2016 trade between the two stood at $350 million. Al-Sisi’s visit is expected to lay the foundations to build on this figure, opening up the possibility of long-term economic and cultural collaboration.

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