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Russia, Egypt look to expand cooperation

Reporter: Daria Bondarchuk 丨 CCTV.com

08-13-2014 13:06 BJT

Russian President Vladimir Putin hosted his visiting Egyptian counterpart Abdel Fattah al-Sisi in the city of Sochi on Tuesday. They discussed economic relations and boosting bilateral trade. A free trade zone between the trade bloc Customs Union and Egypt is under consideration.

The meeting in Sochi became the first official visit for Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as Egypt’s President since he came to power in June. The leaders of the two countries discussed opportunities to boost bilateral trade and strengthen economic ties.

"From January to June of this year, mutual trade increased by more than two times. We need to without a doubt strengthen this tendency," Putin said.

The meeting took place in the wake of the recent exchange of sanctions between Russia, Europe, the US, Canada Australia, and Norway over the crisis in Ukraine.

Moscow is now looking for alternative food suppliers, and Egypt said it is ready to boost its agricultural exports to Russia by 30 percent. Increased shipments of oranges, potatoes, and other fruits and vegetables are expected to make up for about half the shortfall caused by Russia’s import ban.

Moscow and Cairo agreed to set up a joint industrial zone next year as part of the new Suez Canal development project. The Russian President also said the two states would consider creating a free trade zone in the future:

"An agreement has been reached on the cooperation between Egypt and the customs union - Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and now we are investigating the possibility of creating a free trade zone," Putin said.

Vladimir Putin promised improved access to the Russian market for Egyptian products. And he expressed hope that the volume of Russian tourists, now accounting for some 40 percent of the total number of Europeans visiting Egypt, will grow even more this year.

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