India, Egypt to step up economic relations

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New Delhi, Apr 15 (UNI) Pending free trade agreement (FTA), India today welcomed Egyptian proposal for a framework agreement on economic cooperation to boost trade and investment in the two countries.

While exploring the possibility of an FTA, the two countries should have a framework agreement in trade and investment to cater to the need of both sides, Egyptian minister of trade and industry Rachid Mohamed Rachid said at a CII meeting here.

Later, during discussion with Commerce and Industry minister Kamal Nath, the Egyptian minister discussed a new platform for strengthening economic cooperation, including an FTA, between the two countries.

Kamal Nath welcomed the proposal, saying it will provide opportunity to the two countries for greater interaction in the field of trade and investment. Identifying pharma sector, he suggested setting up of joint ventures to explore and exploit markets in West Asia and Africa.

Mr Nath also welcomed proposal for an Indian industrial zone in Egypt to set up base for targeting domestic as well as nearby international markets in Europe, Africa and the Middle East.

Earlier at CII, Rachid said while an FTA could be the best thing to happen between the two countries and will be discussed with Indian officials. He suggested a beginning could be made with the framework agreement, adding banks should also be allowed to set up branches in both the countries to boost trade and investment.

Bilateral trade between India and Egypt currently stands at about three billion dollars.

During the bilateral meeting, the two countries agreed to explore possibilities of exchanging industrial know-how and formation of joint ventures in multiple sectors. Textiles, iron and steel, cement, building materials, auto and components, chemicals, petrochemicals, fertilisers, drugs and vaccines, communication and IT, new and renewable energy and organic fuel for industrial use, infrastructure, housing and real estate were identified for the purpose.

The Egyptian minister proposed enhanced cooperation in areas of manufacturing goods, pharma, oil and gas, mining, renewable energy, auto, construction materials and textiles. He also invited Indian companies to explore partnership in Egypt's steel sector.

The meeting was attended by a high-level business delegation comprising mostly CEOs or CMDs of Egyptian companies and Indian corporate leaders.

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