TDAS’18: Egypt & Pakistan celebrate 70 years of bilateral realtions

The South Asian Strategic Stability Institute University (SASSI) in collaboration with the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan in Cairo hosted Dialogue and Trade Summit. Titled as “CPEC-BRI Cairo Dialogue and Trade Summit: Building Partnership Through Trade Transformation: The Suez Canal And Gwadar – The Gateway” it aims to celebrate the 70-year-old bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Egypt. The Summit was held in Cairo at the Grand Nile Tower.

The two day event (24-25 September) was attended by Ministers from both states, ambassadors, government functionaries, trade representatives as well as academicians. Some of the major participants included the Federal Minister for Planning, Development & Reforms Makhdoom Khusro Bakthiar. Minister of Planning Hala el-Saeed, deputy minister of transportation, Chairman of the Commercial Representation Authority Ahmed Antar, and Ambassador of Pakistan Mushtaq Ali Shah, in addition to the host President of SASSI Maria Sultan also attended the summit.

The private sector delegates were experienced businessmen & Trade Leaders which included Engineer Daro Khan Former President Quetta Chamber and former VP of FPCCI, Ms. Falahat Imran, President Women Chamber Lahore, Ms. Azra Jamsheed Executive Committee Member of Women Chamber Peshawar, Mr. Taimur Ali Malik Executive Director Guard Group of Pakistan. Mr Azmat Javed, Director International Marketing Grand Group & Chairman Energy Committee & Vice Chairman SME Central Committee of FPCCI. Engineer Raza Shami, Former Secretary General Industry Owners Association. Lahore & Vice Chairman SME Regional standing committee FPCCI & LCCI.

This event was very important as it delved on how Pakistan and Egypt both could exploit the significance of the Indian Ocean in the coming years based on their relationship. The rapid developing trends of globalization, including increased trade relations between countries and regions, have essentially reconfigured the defense and industrial sector with international collaborative linkages edging out erstwhile stand-alone national industries towards joint ventures and increased prospects in trade and investments.

The presence of Federal Minister Khusro Bakhtiar was also very significant. As the main theme of the Summit revolved around the linking of CPEC via Gwadar to the Suez canal, it fitted into his early plans to open up CPEC to other countries. While Egypt may not be able to contribute financially to CPEC, the linking with the Suez canal which is which is considered to be the shortest link between the east and the west due to its unique geographic location. A synergy between Gwadar and the Suez Canal will help raise the scope and size of CPEC.

A summit exploring economic opportunities emerging from China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is being hosted by the South Asian Strategic Stability Institute (SASSI) in Cairo.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a centerpiece project of BRI. President Xi Jinping’s BRI, unveiled in 2013, aims to bolster a sprawling network of land and sea links with Southeast Asia, Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa. Trade exchange between Egypt and Pakistan exceeded $200 million, reaching $231 million in 2017, Egyptian Minister of Planning Hala el-Saeed said while addressing the summit.

“Trade through the Indian Ocean is expected to rise with the emergence of China as a global economic superpower,” said a statement released by SASSI.

“Pakistan and Egypt are two important Belt Road initiative (BRI) members occupying key access points along the global maritime trade routes. The Suez canal and Gwadar are expected to emerge as mega seaports with unprecedented trade volume passing through in the coming decades.”

The conference further aims to highlight the benefits of mutual collaboration and explore how the two countries can capitalise on opportunities presented by BRI and its CPEC artery.

The forum will promote and support and open and unbiased exchange of ideas, demonstrate continued commitment to constructive dialogue with the international community and regional partners. It aims to enhance economic cooperation, regional connectivity and business activity.

Such summits are essential for the economic benefit of Pakistan and also help it diversify both its economy and diplomacy. Pakistan and Egypt while both being Muslim countries did not enjoy closeness owing to Cold War politics in which both belonged to different blocs. However, the Belt & Road Initiative through CPEC and changing geo-economics can help these two nations leave their past behind.

Published in Melange Intl. Magazine in October 2018.

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