In recognition of India’s growing role as an industrial and economic power, Egypt on Thursday offered India to set up an “India Zone” along the Suez Canal development area. This was to create an India-specific industrial corridor for joint collaboration with Egyptian companies to capture the European and African markets.

This offer was made by Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif to the visiting Commerce and Industry Minister Anand Sharma during their bilateral meeting held here on Thursday morning.

“The Egyptian Prime Minister offered us to establish an India Zone in the Suez Canal Development Area. This is a very significant development as India is the first country to be offered such a big industrial initiative by the Egyptian government which indicates our closely knit ties with the people and the government of this country,” Mr. Sharma said during an interaction with journalists from India.

Mr. Sharma said this also spoke highly of India’s growing industrial clout and its capacity to emerge as a strong and reliable partner. “We will take up this initiative at the highest level and ensure that this initiative takes off as soon as possible.”

Interestingly, 35 per cent world’s trade passes through the Suez Canal and this offer could give tremendous opportunity to India to extend its reach to emerging markets in Africa and also Europe, he added.

Mr. Sharma said both India and Egypt felt the need for energising the economic engagement in the spirit of the South-South cooperation. Dr. Nazif acknowledged India’s growing role in multilateral affairs of the world and impressive economic growth. “It provided an opportunity to review the bilateral engagements. Our trade stands at $30 billion, including investments in the oil and gas sectors, automobiles, and major presence in the IT sector. We also agreed to expand economic engagement and partnership and work for greater synergy in third world initiatives,” Mr. Sharma said.

He also had a bilateral meeting with Egyptian Trade and Industry Minister Rachid Mohamed Rachid. Later, he addressed an informal WTO meeting of African countries and the India-Egypt Business Forum jointly organised by Confederation of Indian Industry.

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