Strategic partnership between India and Egypt. Interview with Ambassador Anil Trigunayat

Amb. Anil Trigunayat is a member of the Indian Foreign Service. He has served in the Indian Missions in Cote d’Ivoire, Bangladesh, Mongolia, USA, Russia, Sweden and Nigeria, Libya and Jordan. In the Ministry of External Affairs he has worked in the Economic, West Asia and North Africa and Consular Divisions. He also served as Director General/Joint Secretary for the Gulf & Haj Divisions in the Ministry of External Affairs, New Delhi. Thereafter, Mr. Trigunayat worked as Deputy Chief of Mission in the rank of Ambassador in the Embassy of India, Moscow Prior to his superannuation in May 2016, he served as Ambassador of India to Jordan and Libya and High Commissioner to Malta (June 2012 – May 2016). He is a post Graduate in Physics from the Agra/Kumaon University and also studied Russian History, Culture and Language at the Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. As a visiting fellow he also conducted research work on “WTO and Regional Trading Blocs” at the Oxford University. He is a member of the All India Management Association/Delhi Management Association as well as that of Oxford and Cambridge Society of India and the Association of Indian Diplomats (former Ambassadors). He is also the Honorary Member of the International Trade Council, Brussels.

– Why are relations between India and Egypt important?

India and Egypt have had a civilizational and historic connect of over 5000 years and trading links nearly as old. In modern times post independence leaders of both countries i.e Nehru and Nasser were instrumental in founding the Non-Alignment and fought against the colonisation and racism. India is acknowledged as a major power with fastest growing economy and by 2047 will acquire a developed country status with 2nd or 3rd largest economy with the biggest populations and a resident power in Indian ocean and maritime domain. Egypt is a critical power and largest country in North Africa and the Arab world and plays a major role in Red Sea, eastern Mediterranean and North of Africa which are of significant importance . India and Egypt are also looking for increased defence and security collaboration including counter terrorism and cyber security ,while expanding their economic and energy ties . Hence the two sides are looking at strategic convergences to take the strategic partnership to next level.

– In a reflection for Vivekananda International Foundation you emphasise the important role of Egypt, the Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. What is the strategic match for those countries and with India ?

Under the current dispensation of PM Modi the West Asia policy has been a resounding success with the relationship with KSA and UAE and others in the GCC moving from buyer -seller relationship to strategic partnership. The relationship has expanded to cover defence, security and strategic investments in space, energy , renewable energy and infra sector as well as maritime cooperation. I2U2 is yet another example. Likewise  Egypt , KSA and UAE have synergies among themselves which obviously synchronise with those of India’s priorities in the region whose security and stability is of paramount importance for India.

 – India has a strategic presence in the Suez Canal area. With what prospects?

Suez Canal is an important artery for trade, commerce and navigation. India in the 1950s had support Egypt when the Britishers tried to militarily intervene . India’s trade and energy traverse through these waterways .Moreover, now there is special economic zone is being developed there which will have a special status for companies that can produce and export to Europe and Africa. More and more Indian companies are availing of that opportunity. Already three major companies including renew Power have committed to invest nearly $ 18 bn in Green Hydrogen facility. Trade is also expected to go up to $ 12 bn by 2027 from $ 7 bn presently.

– India, Egypt and the issues of defence and security. What is happening ? 

India and Egypt have been conducting military exercises including just preceding the visit of President Sisi and a big contingent even participated at the Republic day Parade where President Sisi was the Chief Guest. Egypt has shown interest in Indian missiles and other equipment. There could be joint production possibilities . Strategic use of   port facilities and servicing and spares for the Soviet/Russia origin equipment could be another area of collaboration. Counter terrorism and cyber security cooperation are in the interest of both the countries and hence an agreement in Cyber security cooperation as well as in the ICT were signed during the visit of President Sisi during which the relationship has been elevated to a Strategic Partnership.