Thursday,21 February, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1407, (30 August - 5 September 2018)
Thursday,21 February, 2019
Issue 1407, (30 August - 5 September 2018)

Ahram Weekly

New Asian horizons

Cairo and Hanoi are seeking new fields of cooperation, reports Reem Leila

Al-Sisi and Quang during his three-day visit in Cairo this week
Al-Sisi and Quang during his three-day visit in Cairo this week

Vietnam’s President Tran Dai Quang ended a three-day visit to Egypt on 28 August. It is the first time a Vietnamese president has visited Egypt since the two states established diplomatic relations in 1963.

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi and Quang signed seven memoranda of understanding (MoU) covering cooperation in fields of investment, trade, agriculture, commercial transactions and export promotion. Egypt is Vietnam’s fifth largest trade partner in Africa. The trade volume between the two countries hit $346 million in 2017 and is targeted to increase to $1 billion.

The two leaders agreed on intensifying mutual visits at the governmental, parliamentary, popular and commercial levels. This is in addition to enhancing friendship relations between Egypt and Vietnam for the welfare of both nations.

During a joint press conference, Al-Sisi called on Vietnamese investors and industrialists to invest in Egypt, saying the country’s mega-projects, on top of which is the development of the Suez Canal region, offered the prospect of high returns and provided promising opportunities for Vietnamese companies seeking to benefit from Egypt’s strategic location as a production centre.

“We are currently focusing on strengthening our relations with Vietnam due to its regional weight and great potentials. We also appreciate Vietnam’s support for Egypt to be included in the ASEAN Friendship and Cooperation Agreement,” Al-Sisi said. 

During the press conference, Quang told reporters that boosting bilateral cooperation in the defence and security fields was also discussed. 

The presidents exchanged information about the investment climate in their respective countries and addressed the possibility of enhancing investment incentives in the agriculture, petroleum and communications fields.

Al-Sisi visited Hanoi in September 2017, a first for an Egyptian president.

“Strengthening ties with Asian countries in general, and Vietnam in particular, puts Egypt on the Asian power map in general. This creates a balance in Egypt’s relation between western and eastern countries,” says Mohamed Fayez, a specialist in Asian affairs at Al-Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies.

According to Fayez, “Egypt has been slow to recognise the benefits from intensifying its ties with Asian countries.”

Asian countries have the world’s largest currency reserves. China alone holds $3 trillion in international reserves and Egypt could benefit from this by opening its markets to Asian investments and loans.

Asian markets are saturated with internal investment and cannot absorb more.

“Asian states are now investing in African countries, Egypt and Gulf countries. Egypt also stands to benefit from their experience in solving the problem of over-population, revamping their education systems and developing small- and medium-sized enterprises,” says Fayez.

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