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

Visit comes as Vietnam courts international investment from new allies

By AFP - Sep 06,2017 - Last updated at Sep 06,2017

Egypt's Minister of International Cooperation Sahar Nasr (left) and Vietnam's Minister of Industry and Trade Tran Tuan Anh (2nd right) exchange signed documents, as Egypt's President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi (2nd left) and his Vietnamese counterpart Tran Dai Quang applaud, during a signing ceremony of bilateral agreements at the presidential palace in Hanoi, on Wednesday (AFP photo)

HANOI — Vietnam and Egypt agreed on 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 per cent last year from 1.8 per cent 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. 

Vietnam's President Tran Dai Quang called for more trade with Egypt after officials signed nine agreements on 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 Trans-Pacific Partnership in January, a major blow to Vietnam which was set to gain enormously from the 12-nation pact. 

Vietnam is one of Asia's fastest growing economies, clocking more than 5 per cent annual growth over the past five years. 

 

Sisi will attend a business forum on Thursday before departing. 

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