Economic and political ties between Egypt and Russia have strengthened following the ouster of former President Mohamed Morsi in July 2013, after Washington suspended military aid to Egypt.
President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi visited Russia twice since 2013, once as defence minister and once as president. During Al-Sisi’s last visit in August, he agreed with Russia’s president Vladimir Putin to establish a Russian industrial zone as part of the new Suez Canal Project.
The Russian government also approved Egypt’s proposal to begin negotiations regarding the establishment of a free trade zone between Egypt and the European Economic Community (EEC) countries, which include Russia, Kazakhstan and Belarus.
Bilateral trade between Egypt and Russia registered $4.5bn in 2014, increasing by 50% compared to 2013, Putin told state-owned Al-Ahram in an interview published on Monday. He added that several Russian companies in the sectors of electricity, energy, and car manufacturing are willing to enter the Egyptian market.
Bilateral economic relations between Cairo and Moscow were further strengthened when foreign trade minister Mounir Fakhry Abdel Nour visited Moscow in September and called on Egyptian companies exporting to Russia to establish affiliate offices in Moscow to market their products. Moreover, he assigned the Egyptian embassy’s trade office to study expansion in trade centres showcasing Egyptian products.
This development of relations between both countries is believed to be problematic for the EU and the United States, Abdel Nour revealed to Daily News Egypt in a September interview.
Egypt hoped to benefit from the EU’s ban on exports to Russia by exporting agricultural products to Russia, the industry and foreign trade minister said in September. This hope was followed by positive feedback in October when the ministry said that agricultural exports to Russia have “significantly” increased; however, they did not specify figures.
In January, head of General Authority for Free Zones and Investments (GAFI) and Hassan Fahmy said that there are 399 Russian companies operating in the Egyptian market, noting that most of them are working in the tourism sector. Fahmy added their capitals amount to $68m.