February 08, 2015
Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) and Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (RIA Novosti / Mihail Metzel)
Russia and Egypt might soon exclude the US dollar and use their national currencies in the settlement of accounts in bilateral trade, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview to Egyptian media ahead of his Monday visit to the country.
The issue of abandoning the dollar in trade is “being actively discussed,” Putin told Al-Ahram daily newspaper ahead of his two-day trip to Egypt. The Russian president was invited for a bilateral meeting by his Egyptian counterpart Abdul Fattah al-Sisi.
“This measure will open up new prospects for trade and investment cooperation between our countries, reduce its dependence on the current trends in the world markets,” Putin said.
“I should note that we already use national currencies for trade with a number of the CIS [Commonwealth of Independent States] states, and China. This practice proves its worth; we are ready to adopt it in our relations with Egypt as well. This issue is being discussed in substance by relevant agencies of both countries.”
Egypt is a long-time and trusted partner of Russia and the relationship between the two countries has been rapidly developing, the Russian president said.
“The volume of bilateral trade has increased significantly over the past years: In 2014, it increased by almost half compared to the previous year and amounted to more than $4.5 billion,” he said urging for this trend to be strengthened.
He also praised the development of “mutually beneficial and effective”cooperation in the sector of agriculture. “Egypt is the major buyer of Russian wheat, Russia provides about 40 percent of grain consumed in the country; as for us, we import fruits and vegetables.”
Moscow imposed a full ban of EU, US, Australian, Canadian, and Norwegian food exports to Russia on August 7 for one year. Amid Russian sanctions, Egypt said in August that it was ready to boost agricultural deliveries to Russia by 30 percent.
During 2013, Egypt’s deliveries of agricultural products to Russia amounted $440 million, while during the first half of 2014, Cairo supplied $460 million, said the head of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, Nikolay Fedorov in August 2014.
Moscow and Cairo are also engaged in energy, automobile manufacturing and transport cooperation, developing the intergovernmental trade, economic and scientific-technical cooperation commission as well.
During Sisi’s last visit to Russia in August 2014, the two leaders agreed to look at a possibility of creating a free trade zone between Egypt and the countries of the Customs Union. Meeting in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, the presidents also agreed upon the creation of a Russian industrial zone in Egypt, which will be part of a new Suez Canal project.
Egypt launched a Suez Canal development project worth $4 billion in August 2014. The project envisages the digging of a new canal parallel to the original built 145 years ago with the aim of speeding up traffic along the existing waterway and boosting the country’s economy.