Egypt’s El Sisi meets with Russian delegation

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi has met with senior Russian officials to discuss boosting economic ties between the two countries, marking the 14th year of the joint Egyptian-Russian committee. The committee is currently holding a meeting in Cairo to outline cooperation in fields such as commerce, industry, research, and the arts. The talks included discussions on increasing Russian investments in Egypt, the establishment of a Russian industrial complex in the Suez Canal Economic Zone, and co-manufacturing goods with Russian producers operating in the canal zone.

The meeting also addressed the current global crisis in the supply of grain and food, and discussed the continuing trading of wheat and grains between the two countries. In 2022, Egypt imported 4.9 million tonnes of Russian grain, making Russia one of Egypt’s biggest suppliers of grain and wheat, along with Ukraine.

Egypt’s dependence on Russian grain

Egypt’s reliance on Russian grain is expected to continue throughout 2023, according to a January statement from Egypt’s state grain buyer. After announcing its exit from the UN Grain Trades Convention, Egypt is expected to look more towards Russia to fulfill the grain needs of its 104 million population. In January, Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister said Moscow was studying a mechanism to settle payments for grain exports to Egypt in roubles instead of dollars.

Despite calls by Western powers to isolate Russia over its invasion of Ukraine last year, Cairo has maintained relations with Moscow. In fact, Russian efforts to bolster its relations with African and Arab nations have intensified since the invasion, as Moscow continues to face harsh sanctions from the US and Europe. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov addressed the Arab League in July 2022 in a bid to curry favour among its member states.

The visit of Russian officials to Cairo came two days after the International Criminal Court announced an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin on the war crimes accusation of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children. However, the meeting in Cairo did not address this development.

Egypt’s economy has suffered greatly since the invasion of Ukraine last year, with food prices skyrocketing and contributing to a punishing economic crisis. Nonetheless, Egypt has continued to maintain strong relations with Moscow, given its dependence on Russian imports for food and other critical supplies. The meeting between the Russian officials and El-Sisi is seen as an attempt to further strengthen economic ties between the two countries and to mitigate the impact of the ongoing global crisis on Egypt’s economy.

Image Credit: Egyptian presidency

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