Sisi holds summit with Lula da Silva at presidential palace in Cairo

Ahram Online , Thursday 15 Feb 2024

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his Brazilian counterpart Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva held a summit on Thursday at the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace in Cairo to discuss strengthening ties between the two countries and coordination in international gatherings.

Egypt-Brazil
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and his Brazilian counterpart Lula da Silva during the official reception ceremony at the Ittihadiya Presidential Palace in Cairo on Thursday. Photos courtesy of Egyptian Presidency

 

An official reception ceremony was held for the Brazilian president at the Ittihadiya Palace in Cairo.

According to the Egyptian Presidential Spokesman Ahmed Fahmy, the Brazilian president's visit coincides with the centennial anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between both countries.

Both leaders will also discuss joint efforts to develop and reform the international governance system in light of the membership of Egypt and Brazil in BRICS in addition to Brazil's presiding over G20 in 2024 and inviting Egypt as a guest to the group meetings.

This is Lula da Silva's second official visit to Egypt. The first was in 2003, when he became the first Brazilian head of state to visit Egypt since Pedro II of Brazil in the 1870s, according to the Brazilian presidency. 

The visit to Cairo follows Lula da Silva’s participation, upon El-Sisi’s invitation, in the COP27 Sharm El-Sheikh summit in December 2022 when he was a president-elect.

The Brazilian president arrived in Cairo on Wednesday afternoon for a two-day visit, where he visited the Pyramids of Giza and the Grand Egyptian Museum.

According to Brazilian news reports, the developments in Gaza, climate change, and bilateral relations between Egypt and Brazil, especially economic and trade relations, will top the talks between the two leaders in Cairo.

The two presidents will also attend the signing of bilateral acts on Thursday and an official lunch to be followed by a joint press conference.

The Brazilian president will also visit the Arab League headquarters in Cairo later on Thursday.

Then, he along with his delegation will head to Addis Ababa to participate as a guest in the 37th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the Heads of State and Government of the African Union, held on 16-17 February.

Trade exchange
 

Egypt and Brazil's economic cooperation has witnessed a leap during the past few years thanks to the trade agreements they signed, including the MERCOSUR.

Brazil is Egypt’s largest trade partner in Latin America, according to remarks by Brazil's Ambassador to Egypt Paulino Franco de Carvalho.

Carvalho said Egypt is Brazil's fourth-largest trade partner in Africa and the 14th-largest trade partner globally.

Trade exchange between both countries reached around $2.4 billion in the first 10 months of 2023, Carvalho added.

Trade exchange volume between the two countries witnessed a remarkable surge, reaching $2.5 billion in 2021, compared to $1.9 billion in 2020, a 30 percent increase, according to previous remarks by Egypt's Minister of Trade and Industry Nevine Gamea.

Economic cooperation
 

In 2010, Egypt and Brazil signed the free trade agreement (FTA) between MERCOSUR and Egypt, which has been in effect since September 2017. 

This FTA marks the South American bloc's inaugural agreement with an African nation. Ratified by Brazil, the MERCOSUR-Egypt FTA was signed in August 2010 and officially commenced on 1 September 2017.

The Southern Common Market (known as MERCOSUR in Spanish and MERCOSUL in Portuguese) was established through a treaty signed by the presidents of Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Paraguay. It paved the way for the most ambitious economic integration process in the region.

The members aim to fortify relations, promote trade expansion, and establish the conditions and mechanisms for negotiating FTA under the rules and disciplines of the World Trade Organization (WTO).

BRICS membership
 

With Egypt officially becoming a member of the BRICS group of major emerging economies in January, trade between Egypt and Brazil is expected to further increase in the coming years.

In August 2023, Brazil's president called for creating a common BRICS currency for trade and investment, to deepen trade among group members in local currencies avoiding dollar exchange rate fluctuations.

Official data from 2022 and 2023 show that Egypt's trade exchange with BRICS members, including both founding and new members, amounted to $46.673 billion, which is more than one-third of the country's total external trade.

G20 meetings
 

In December 2023, the Brazilian government invited Egypt to participate as a guest in all G20 meetings during Brazil's presidency of the group, which started in December and will last for one year.

Egypt's participation in these meetings is the fourth of its kind since the establishment of the group and the second in a row after Egypt participated in the previous G20 meetings upon the Indian presidency’s invitation.

The 2024 G20 summit will take place in Rio de Janeiro’s Museum of Modern Art on 18-19 November 2024.

During the G20 meetings, Egypt will seek to highlight the priority issues in Egypt, Africa, and other developing nations.

Among these topics will be enhancing food and energy security, developing international debt governance, ensuring international financing for development, and reforming the multilateral financial, monetary, and trade system.

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