Egypt's Sisi eyes $1 billion in trade on Vietnam visit

 06 Sep 2017 - 13:02

Egypt's Sisi eyes $1 billion in trade on Vietnam visit
Egypt's President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi (R) and his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Dai Quang (C) review an honour guard during a welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace in Hanoi on September 6, 2017. AFP / HOANG DINH NAM

AFP

Hanoi: Vietnam and Egypt agreed Wednesday to nearly triple trade to $1 billion including with ship-building and IT contracts, as Egypt seeks to kickstart its sputtering economy and forge ties with fast-growing Asian nations.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is in Hanoi for a two-day visit -- the first ever by an Egyptian leader -- aimed at drumming up business ties with the country.

"We discussed means to reinforce bilateral ties in many areas, in particular in economics, especially in light of Vietnam's achievements in the fields of industry and commerce," Sisi told reporters. 

Egypt's economy tanked after a 2011 revolution that toppled longtime president Hosni Mubarak, and though growth has steadily recovered, reaching 4.3 percent last year from 1.8 percent in 2011, it is still hampered by high inflation.

Last year the International Monetary Fund approved a $12 billion loan to prop up the ailing economy. 

Cairo has also sought new trade partners after relations with Washington soured when Sisi overthrew Islamist president Mohamed Morsi four years ago. 

Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang called for more trade with Egypt after officials signed nine agreements Wednesday, including in the areas of transport, fisheries and investment.

"We are determined to bring bilateral trade volume to $1 billion in the future," Quang said, adding they would focus on ship-building, IT, seaports, manufacturing and agro-processing.

Egypt is Vietnam's second biggest trading partner in Africa, though trade has faltered in recent years, hitting $316 million last year from $395 million in 2014.

Sisi's visit comes as Vietnam courts international investment from new allies in Africa and the Middle East.

Analysts say Hanoi is looking to drum up trade deals after the US pulled out of the massive Trans-Pacific Partnership in January, a major blow to Vietnam which was set to gain enormously from the 12-nation pact. 

Communist Vietnam is one of Asia's fastest growing economies, clocking more than five percent annual growth over the past five years. 

Sisi will attend a business forum Thursday before departing.