Sisi’s 2017 abroad trips aim to show new image of Egypt



Fri, 27 Oct 2017 - 07:48 GMT


Fri, 27 Oct 2017 - 07:48 GMT

Egypt's President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi - Photo Courtesy of Egypt's Presidency - File photo

Egypt's President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi - Photo Courtesy of Egypt's Presidency - File photo

CAIRO – 27 October 2017: During his fourth year in office, President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi continued his focus on boosting the country’s foreign policy by forming political and economic partnerships with major regional and world powers.

Sisi flew to 16 countries in 10 months, where he held high-level meetings with political leaders and participated in international forums with the aim to deliver the new image of Egypt to the world.

The president’s tours basically sought to attract foreign investment to the country, which is currently undergoing intensive economic reform measures with the aim to adjust the business climate for local and foreign companies.

African and Nile Basin countries

President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi (L) and Tanzanian President John Magufuli (R)_(Photo Courtesy of Egypt's Presidency)

On January 30, Sisi participated in the 28th African Union (AU) Summit held in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa. The president met with a number of African leaders and discussed pathways to African economic integration.

The Ethiopian Great Renaissance Dam (GERD) issue topped bilateral talks between Sisi and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn. Both sides agreed to implement related agreements signed between the two countries and support the technical committees to continue their work. Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia signed an agreement in 2016 tasking French consulting companies BRL Ingénierie and Artelia with conducting feasibility studies on the GERD to assess the dam’s environmental, socioeconomic and ecological impacts on Nile River. The Nile basin countries are Egypt, Kenya, Ethiopia, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Uganda, South Sudan, and Sudan.

On February 18, Sisi visited Kenya where he met Kenyan counterpart Uhuru Kenyatt. They discussed ways to boost economic relations between the two countries, particularly in the light of their membership in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA).

In August, Sisi launched a four-day African tour including Tanzania, Rwanda, Gabon and Chad. The tour reflected the Egyptian leadership’s move towards Africa in the framework of the country’s keenness to intensify coordination and communication with its African brothers in all fields. The visits also aimed to open new African markets to Egyptian exports that have witnessed a significant boom this year as a result of the state economic reform program.

The Gulf and counter-terrorism

Saudi King Salman (R) shakes hands with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi (L)_(Photo Courtesy of Egyptian Presidency- AFP)

Egypt is always keen to maintain strong relations with Gulf countries, namely Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain, as these countries supported Egypt during the economic crisis that followed the June 30 revolution.

In April, President Sisi visited Riyadh where he met Saudi King Salman bin Abdel Aziz. The visit was meant to end a two-month tension between the Arab neighbors over several regional issues. The two leaders discussed a number of regional and international issues of mutual concern, mainly combating terrorism that threatens peace and stability in the Arab region and the whole world.

In May, the Egyptian president launched a Gulf tour including the UAE, Kuwait and Bahrain. Sisi spent two days in the UAE where he met with Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, and discussed bilateral relations in various domains covering political, economic and security aspects.

Sisi’s Gulf tour also took him to Kuwait and Bahrain where he met Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jabir, Emir of Kuwait, and King Hamad Bin Issa Al-Khalifa, ruler of Bahrain, to promote bilateral relations at all levels. The talks tackled means to enhance the Arab world's ability to protect common interests and meet the aspirations of their peoples as well as their ability to counter any foreign interference in the internal Arab affairs.

This tour basically laid the first stone in the Anti-Terrorism Quartet (ATQ) alliance – comprised of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain – that severed diplomatic, trade and travel ties with Qatar in June over accusations of harboring terrorist and sectarian groups that aim to destabilize the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State and Al Qaeda .

The Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology

Abdel Fatah Al-Sisi (L), King Salman (C) and Donald Trump (R) in Riyadh

Upon an invitation from Saudi King Salman, Sisi attended the US-Arab-Islamic Summit in Riyadh on May 21 with the participation of U.S. President Donald Trump. This historic meeting resulted in the launch of the new Global Center for Combating Extremist Ideology (GCCEI) to face violent extremism, and tackle various aspects of this phenomenon.

Founded by a number of countries who chose Riyadh to host its headquarters, the GCCEI will confront extreme ideologies by monitoring and analyzing terrorist and extremist groups in order to confront and prevent them from spreading their ideas in the world. It will cooperate with governments and organizations to promote a culture of moderation.

G20 summit in Germany

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi (R) and Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel (L) in Berlin (Photo Reuters)

In June, President Sisi participated in the G20 Summit organized by Germany under the theme “Investing in a Common Future”. The President delivered a speech during the summit, in which he urged the need to provide a fairer international economic environment, introduce necessary reforms to the multilateral trading system and enhance the role of developing countries in international financial institutions.

Addressing major world leaders, Sisi stressed Egypt’s keenness to present the visions and aspirations of developing countries, noting that those countries need a smooth and effective mechanism for transferring the experiences and outputs of the G20 to them.

The G20 includes the E.U., the U.S., the U.K., Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, and Turkey.

During the summit, Sisi met with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The two discussed political, economic and security issues as well as the developments in the Middle East region. The two leaders also inaugurated the German-Egyptian Business Forum in Berlin which will contribute to exchanging expertise in the fields of education, vocational and technical training to provide skilled labor that meets the local and international markets’ needs.

Sisi visits the White House

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in the Oval Office of the White House _AP Photo

In April, President Sisi met with his American counterpart Donald Trump in Washington. Trump stressed his administration’s support of Sisi and the Egyptian government, noting that Egypt has done a great job in a very difficult political and economic situation.

"You have a great friend and ally in the United States - and in me," Trump told Sisi, the first Egyptian president to visit the White House in almost a decade.

Sisi managed to break the ice experienced in the Egypt-US relations under former US President Barack Obama’s administration. Sisi expressed his gratitude to Trump’s support of Egypt’s fight against terrorism and extremism. He asserted that Egypt is battling a fierce conflict in the Sinai Peninsula and hundreds of Egyptian soldiers and police have been killed fighting armed groups.

BRICS Forum in China

President Sisi, Egyptian first lady (L) along with Chinese Presidents and his wife (R) pose for a picture at 9th BRICS Summit in China's Xiamen_press photo

President Sisi participated in the ninth BRICS summit held in China in September in the framework of his keenness to formulate partnerships with the world’s fastest-growing emerging markets. Addressing the BRICS bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa), Sisi briefed member countries on the current Egyptian economic reform program and the bold measures taken recently by the Egyptian government to encourage investment.

Speaking about the Belt and Road Initiative, Sisi said Egypt's unique geographical position allows it to be a major transit point between the east and the west, and from the south to the north through the Suez Canal, which is currently prepared to host leading economic and industrial zones linking the world.

Egypt has been trying to rely less heavily on the United States for support, which prompted Sisi to search for stronger ties with China. Egypt can be China's gate to international markets through a number of trade agreements, including the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, the EU-Egypt Association Agreement and the Free Trade Agreement with the EFTA and MERCOSUR and the Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ), which allow Egypt exports to reach about 1.8 billion people worldwide.



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