Egyptian ministers to set stage for Mubarak’s India visitApril 10th, 2008 - 4:11 pm ICT by admin
New Delhi, April 10 (IANS) India and Egypt will give fresh impetus to their economic ties when three Egyptian ministers come here over the next one month to set the stage for President Hosni Mubarak’s visit to India later this year. “Mubarak was very keen to participate in the first-ever India-Africa summit, but due to prescheduled visits by heads of state and governments of three countries to Cairo during this period, he could not come,” Egyptian Minister for International Cooperation Fayza Aboul Naga told reporters here Thursday.
“It’s unfortunate he couldn’t come for the summit. He will come to India as soon as possible. Dates are being discussed between the two sides,” said Naga, who represented her country at the India-Africa summit.
This will be the first visit by Mubarak to India in a quarter of a century. He last came here in 1983 on a state visit.
The focus of Mubarak’s visit will be on intensifying strategic and economic cooperation between India and Egypt, old friends and founders of non-aligned movement and South-South cooperation, Naga said.
Noga met Prime Minister Mahnmohan Singh Wednesday and handed him a message from Mubarak, reiterating Egypt’s support from India in an expanded UN Security Council.
“It’s a period of intensified engagement between India and Egypt,” she said. “This month in India has been hijacked by Egypt with ministers of industry and trade, agriculture and transport planning to visit India,” she said, setting an upbeat tone for Mubarak’s visit, which could happen as early as June-July.
Minister of Agriculture Amin Abaza will be here April 13, to be followed by Trade and Industries Minister Rashid Mohamed Rashid April 15. A big business delegation led by Aseem Ragab, head of Egyptian Investment Promotion Authority GAFI, will come here to attend the Indo-Arab Business and Investment Conclave April 18-20.
Minister of Transport Mohamed Mansour will round off what looks like the month of Egypt in India with a three-day visit starting April 17.
Naga identified IT, oil and gas, agriculture and food processing as some key areas for closer collaboration between India and Egypt.
Showcasing Egypt as a gateway to the 20-country Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA), the 27-nation European Union and the Arab Free Trade Area, Naga asked Indian companies to step up their investment in the most influential country in Arab Africa.
Top Indian companies are already scaling up their investment in Egypt, with Essar planning to set up an oil refinery in the Nile Delta. Reliance, Kirloskars and the Tata Group are already active in Egypt, scouring for new business opportunities. The Mittal group is planning to set up a massive steel plant in Egypt.
Bilateral trade between India and Egypt touched $2.2 billion in 2006, which is close to China’s nearly $3 billion trade with Egypt. The two countries are eyeing an ambitious target of achieving $10 billion bilateral trade by 2010.
Noga, however, played down any prospect of competition between India and China either in Egypt or in Africa, echoing what Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said at the end of the first India-Africa summit Wednesday.
“There is no competition between India and China. They are not mutually exclusive. Every partner in Africa has its own advantages and niches,” she said.
“Africa is a very rich continent with a wealth of resources. What it needs are expertise and the transfer of know-how.”