Pakistan’s Foreign Minister (FM) Shah Mahmood Qureshi is in Cairo on his Egyptian counterpart Sameh Hassan Shoukry’s invitation. Ever since Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) has come to power, the top leadership of Pakistan has been engaging with that of Egypt.
The meetings between Prime Minister (PM) Imran Khan and President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi on the sidelines of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation Makkah Summit and the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York (2019) and subsequent telephonic conversations have shown that the two sides are eager to cultivate deeper bilateral terms.
While Pakistan enjoys cordial relations with Egypt and other countries in the North African region and the broader Arab world, there is a lot of room for enhancing cooperation. Asia and Africa are undergoing rapid transformation, given China’s ambitious Belt and Road project. Therefore, today’s engagements with Egypt can bring Pakistan sustainable dividends and turn “Engage Africa” initiative into a great success story.
Admittedly, the FM will discuss a wide range of topics with Egyptian officials. Nevertheless, commerce will be the most crucial one. According to Pakistan Business Council’s (PBC) profile report of Egypt, the trade exchange volume between the two sides is less than $220 million against the untapped potential of $3.40 billion.
Since agricultural products account for a significant portion of Egypt’s import bill, Pakistan can play its part in boosting the untapped trade potential. Similarly, Pakistani and Egyptian governments are on board on many regional and global issues and united on the war on terror front.
The two sides by boosting up their defence ties can further enhance the trade volume. Cairo can potentially become a key buyer of Pakistan’s military equipment. Cooperation in agriculture and defence can open up other avenues of partnerships between the two sides; Pakistan can use Egypt as a “gateway” to make sustainable inroads in Africa.