Egypt and USA
Thursday، 30 March 2017 - 12:00 AM
Egypt and the United States of America have been associated with close strategic relations over the past four decades, taking into account the influential role of the United States in all global and regional issues, as well as the pivotal role of Egypt in the Middle East, Africa and the Islamic world.
Egyptian-American coordination has always been standing in all issues of the region, especially with regard to the Palestinian issue and the situation in Syria, Lebanon, Sudan, Iraq and Iran, as well as the combating against terrorism.
Historical development of relations
At the time the United States gained independence in 1776, Egypt was an Ottoman state and it was impossible to establish direct relations with the world. Yet, the United States wanted to engage with Egypt directly. But when impossible, America sought to effect this relation through an American consul in Constantinople.
In 1832, when Muhammad Ali ruled Egypt, the US appointed a commercial agent in Egypt. Egypt had a large commercial activity, and the United States was keen to establish such commercial relations with Egypt.
For this reason, American President Andrew Jackson sent a commercial mission in 1834 to ascertain Muhammad Ali's desire to establish separate commercial relations with the US apart from the Ottoman Empire. This mission pointed to the importance of developing relations with Egypt and recommended increasing the representation between the two countries. Meanwhile, Muhammad Ali used a number of American experts in affairs of agriculture, in particular the cultivation of cotton, cane and rice.
The US Consular Office was subsequently established on August 28, 1835, under the chairmanship of an English businessman in Alexandria named John Geldon. In 1841, the Congress ratified agreements to encourage trade and to activate relations generally with Egypt.
Relations between the two countries continued to grow until the mutual representation was crystalized in the form of a consulate general in 1849. Exports from Egypt to America amounted to more than $ 3 million a year during that period, whereas imports amounted to more than half a million dollars.
In the context of developing trade relations between the two countries, Egypt participated in the exhibition in 1853 in New York for agricultural crops and industrial products, and also participated in 1876 in the exhibition "Philadelphia". these responsive relations promoted trade exchange between the two countries, and were extended to other domains such as establishing schools and hospitals in Egypt.
As for Khedive Ismail, he supported his relations with America, which sent to him a group of American officers to train the Egyptian army. In 1870, the US government agreed to sell US weapons to the Egyptian army. In 1920, after the end of the First World War, a navigational shipping line was opened between Egypt and the United States
Since the opening of the US consulate in 1849 and until 1922, the United States maintained a consular and semi-diplomatic presence in Cairo through "Under-Secretary-Consul General". After February 1922declaration, under which Egypt gained independence, the United States recognized Egypt's independence on 26th of April 1922 and the diplomatic relations between the two countries were established. In 1946, Mahmud Pasha Hassan was appointed Egypt's first ambassador to Washington. On June 6, 1967, the United Arab Republic cut off diplomatic relations with the United States following the June 1967 war. On February 28, 1974, the United States and the Arab republic of Egypt agreed to resume diplomatic relations again.
The Egyptian-US relations have witnessed great development since World War II. The relation has gone through several stages. Before July 23, 1952 revolution, Egypt hosted, on November 22, 1943, “1st Cairo conference” held by US President Franklin Roosevelt with the participation of British Leader Winston Churchill and Chinese leader Chiang Kechek. On November 27, 1943, US President Franklin Roosevelt held the 2nd Cairo conference with the participation of British Leader Winston Churchill and Turkish President Inonu. In February 1945, US President Franklin Roosevelt held a meeting on a warship in the Suez Canal with Saudi King Abdulaziz Al-Saud. During the visit, Roosevelt held his 1st meeting with King Farouk of Egypt. He also held a meeting in Alexandria with the Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie.
During the era of Gamal Abdel Nasser, the Egyptian-US relations were characterized by tension and conflict. The peak of this tension was in 1967 resulting in cutting the diplomatic relations between the two countries. However, there were moments of cooperation as appeared in the role played by the United States in the Egyptian-British invasion on the Suez war in 1956. In 1953, US Secretary of State John Foster Dulles visited Egypt. In 1956, disputes between Egypt and the US emerged over financing the High Dam project, thus, Nasser nationalized the Suez Canal to finance the project. In 1959, the United States and Egypt signed an agreement for three years under which Egypt bought the US wheat in Egyptian pounds. Washington, also, has provided three hundred scholarships for Egyptian students.
In March 1974, relations between Egypt and the United States were resumed, reaching its peak after the signing of the Camp David Accords and the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. In June 1974, US President Richard Nixon visited Cairo in the first official visit by a US president to discuss the situation in the Middle East and the bilateral relations. US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger visited Egypt several times to discuss developments in the Middle East crisis.
In 2001, the Egyptian-US relations have become little tense. After eight years of tension, US President Obama visited Cairo on 4/6/2009 heading a US delegation where he delivered a famous speech from Cairo University to the Islamic world. Obama's speech tackled nine points: violence and militancy, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Palestinian issue, the Iranian nuclear program, issues of democracy, religious pluralism, women's rights and economic development.
Washington announced its support to January 25th Revolution. The official US institutions expressed its reservation in the beginning of the June 30th Revolution. On 5/7/2013, the US Congress stance was different from the White House; the House Foreign Affairs Committee issued a statement, saying that the Muslim Brotherhood failed to understand democracy. The statement demanded the Army and the transitional government to fulfill their intention of democratic transition and to allow the participation of a wide range of people in the process of writing the constitution. The statement also called on all political forces in Egypt to renounce violence. The US administration's stance began after that to shift gradually toward accepting the new situation in Egypt.
In June 2014, US President Barack Obama phoned President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to congratulate him for being sworn in as Egypt's new president for the coming four years. During the phone call, Obama expressed the US commitment to work with Egypt to promote common interests and the strategic partnership between the two countries. Obama emphasized US support for the political, economic and social aspirations of the Egyptian people. In September 2014, on the sidelines of the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, President Sisi met with US President Obama and held a meeting to discuss a number of issues of mutual concern. The meeting was held at the request of the American side to discuss ways of joint cooperation and discuss the Middle East issues and ways of combating terrorism.
20/9/2019: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi arrived in New York to participate in the 74th session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA 74). President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met on 23/9/2019 US President Donald Trump. Sisi said that meetings with Trump reflect significant understanding between the two countries, citing that this was his second meeting with the US leader in two months. Trump, for his turn, said that his administration seeks to boost cooperation, coordination and strategic consultation with Cairo in the coming period in light of Egypt's pivotal role in the Middle East. Trump hailed Egypt's successful counter-terror efforts, asserting that Egypt is a key partner in the fight against terrorism. President Sisi took part in the Climate Action Summit on the fringe of the United Nations General Assembly meetings. During the summit, the president reviewed the vision of Egypt, Africa and developing nations vis-a-vis climate change which poses grave threat to the whole world.
On 30/3/2019: Environment Minister Yasmin Fouad visited USA to participate in the United Nations High-Level Meeting on Climate and Sustainable Development in New York.
On 26/3/2019: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. The two sides discussed ways to support and strengthen relations between the two countries in various aspects, including the US economic and military aid program.
On 16/3/2019: Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tariq Al-Mulla paid a visit to America and was received by Victoria Coates, US President's Assistant for Middle East Affairs.
On 15/1/2019: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry paid a visit to New York to participate in the handover of the presidency of the Group of 77 and China from Egypt to Palestine.
On 10/1/2019: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo paid a visit to Egypt and was received by President Abdel Fattah El Sisi. The two sides discussed enhancing bilateral relations cooperation frameworks and deepening strategic partnership relations.
On: 6/4/2017: Chairman of the Suez Canal Authority Mohab Mamish received a delegation from the US National War College, accompanied by the US naval attaché, at the authority headquarters in Ismailia.
On 1/4/2017: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi arrived in Washington on an official visit to the US at an invitation by US President Donald Trump. The visit comes as part of the two countries' keenness on promoting strategic relations. El Sisi met Trump, Egyptian community in Washington, CEO of General Electric Company, speaker of US House of Representatives, US National Security Adviser and US Secretary of State.
On 27/2/2017: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry held a meeting with US State Secretary Rex Tillerson in Washington. The meeting focused on the deeply-rooted strategic relations binding Egypt and the US over decades.
On 26/2/2017: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi received Commander of US Central Command Joseph L. Votel. President Sisi hailed as "strategic and special" military relations with Washington. Sisi called for boosting international coordination to reach a joint and integrated strategy to face challenges, atop of which terrorism, Presidential Spokesman Alaa Youssef said.
On 19/2/2017: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi received a delegation of US and Jewish organizations.
On 11/2/2017: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry held a meeting with a delegation from the US Congress chaired by Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, the founder of Congressional Friends of Egypt Caucus.
On 2/2/2017: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi received a delegation from the Middle East Institute of Washington, D.C. led by its President Wendy Chamberlin and comprising a number of former US ambassadors to Egypt, including Frank Wisner.
On 14/1/2017: Assistant Foreign Minister of Arab Affairs Tarek el Qouni received US Special Envoy to Libya Jonathan Winer. In a press released, the Foreign Ministry said the talks tackled the latest developments in Libya and means of countering terror in the Arab states. Qouni stressed that Egypt is not siding with any party of the Libyan political process in order to reach an all-out settlement to the Libyan crisis. He referred to the meetings which Egypt hosted recently among Libyan parties to push forward the Libyan political process. He stressed that Egypt would proceed with efforts to settle the Libyan crisis. Winer said Egypt and the US share almost identical views with regard to countering terror in Libya in view of its negative repercussions on the region.
On 23/12/2016: US President-elect Donald Trump phoned President Abdel Fattah El Sisi where they reviewed the future of Egyptian-US relations after the new US administration takes the helm officially next month. The two leaders said they are looking forward to boosting bilateral cooperation in various domains for the best interest of both nations. The talks also tackled regional developments which could lead to an escalation of international challenges with regard to stability, peace and security; a matter that necessitates fostering bilateral cooperation in the face of such challenges.
On 9/11/2016: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi phoned Donald Trump to congratulate him on winning the US presidential elections and invited him to visit Egypt. Sisi wished Trump success in his mission as the new US president. President Sisi said he is looking forward to enhancing Egyptian-US cooperation at all levels, voicing hope that Trump's presidential term would be crowned with realizing peace, stability and development in the Middle East in view of the grave challenges besetting it.
On 23/1/2016: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met Head of US Central Command General Lloyd James Austin. The meeting dealt with efforts for fighting terrorism. Sisi and Austin also discussed the latest developments in the Middle East, as well as the Egyptian-US military cooperation.
On 17/1/2016: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met US Central Intelligence Director John Brennan. During the meeting, Brennan hailed strategic relations binding Egypt and the US and underlined the importance of boosting bilateral relations in the various spheres. Brennan affirmed that Egypt is an important partner for his country, adding that the US seeks to get acquainted with Egypt's viewpoint toward cooperation on several regional issues of mutual interest, topped by combating terrorism and confronting terrorist groups in the Middle East.
On 22/11/2015: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met members of the US Congress. Sisi held two separate meetings with the Chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee of the US Senate and then with the Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, and Emerging Threats Dana Rohrabacher and Republican Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.
On 5/11/2015: Armed Forces Chief of Staff Lt. General Mahmoud Hegazy met US Commander of Joint Special Operations Command Lieutenant General Raymond Thomas along with his accompanying delegation. The meeting took up a host of files and issues of mutual interest regarding military cooperation and training along with exchanging expertise between the Armed Forces in the two countries.
On 7/10/2015: Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and Patriarch of Saint Mark Episcopate, visited USA at the head of a delegation in a 3-week pastoral visit.
On 24/9/2015: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi visited USA to attend the 70th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) convenes at UN New York HQ. President Sisi delivered Egypt's speech at the 70th UNGA session. He talked about several current issues at the local, regional and international arenas. The President, also, tackled in his speech means of benefiting from the energy of young people and investing them in pushing up the development process along with means of fighting extremism and pooling all international efforts to uproot it. President Sisi also met a number of Arab and foreign presidents, ministers and officials.
On 28/1/2020: Egypt expressed appreciation of continuing US efforts to realize a fair and comprehensive peaceful settlement for the Palestinian problem to contribute to consolidating Middle East security and stability and ending the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
In comment on US President Donald Trump’s announcement of the details of his administration's much-awaited Middle East peace plan, Egypt on Tuesday 28/1/2020 asserted that the plan should be viewed in the light of the importance of reaching a settlement that restores to the Palestinian people their full legitimate rights through the establishment of their independent and sovereign state on the occupied Palestinian lands in line with international legitimacy resolutions.
Egypt urged the parties concerned to make a careful study of the US peace plan and consider all its details and called for opening communication channels to resume US-sponsored peace negotiations to present the views of both the Palestinian and Israeli sides towards the plan so as to reach a deal that fulfills the aspirations and hopes of the Palestinian and Israeli peoples for reaching an overall, fair peace agreement that leads to the setting up of an independent Palestinian state.
The United States is the largest economic partner to Egypt since the late seventies, while Egypt ranked 52nd in the list of major US trade partners.
On September 19, 2019, the Egyptian Commercial Representation Agency announced the increase in the volume of trade exchange between Egypt and the United States during the first 7 months of 2019 to reach $5.35 billion up from $4.47 billion in the same period of 2018, a rise of $884 million or 19.7% thus, the trade balance deficit between the two countries decreased by 8.7% during that period.
The total value of Egyptian exports to the United States increased by 5.37% during the period January - July 2019 to reach $1.9 billion compared to $1.37 billion during the same period of 2018, with an increase of about $517 million.
The Agency pointed out that the Egyptian non-oil exports increased by 31.7% to reach $1.22 billion compared to $933.2 million in the same period in 2018, with an increase of $295.9 million, where non-oil exports constituted 65% of our total exports to the United States.
The Agency added that the Egyptian petroleum exports rose to $662.9 million during the aforementioned period compared to $441.8 million during the same period in 2018, with an increase of 50%, valued at $221.1 million, where these products represented about 35% of the total Egyptian exports.
Exports of Qualified Industrial Zones (QIZ) increased by 14.3% to reach $586.8 million during the aforementioned period compared to $513.2 million during the same period of 2018, and exports under the Generalized System of Benefits (GSP) increased by 112.1% to reach $112.3 million compared to $52.9 million during the same period of 2018.
The Agency pointed out that the value of Egyptian imports from the United States amounted to $3.46 billion compared to $3.09 billion in the same period of 2018, with an increase of 11.8%, valued at $367 million.
According to the Agency, the most important items of Egyptian exports were textiles and garments valued at $660.4 million, representing 35% of total exports to the United States, pieces and works of art valued at $117.7 million, plastics and products valued at $62.2 million, salt, sulfur and limestone valued at $57.3 million, iron and steel valued at $52.9 million, fertilizers valued at $47.9 million, and aluminum and its products valued at $41.7 million.
The Agency added that preparations of vegetables or fruit represent $21 million of total exports, preparations of meat or fish valued at $19.5 million, glass and its products valued at $18.9 million, vegetables valued at $16.8 million, seeds and fruits valued at $11 million, essential oils valued at $9.1 million, paper and cardboard valued at $8.9 million, tea, coffee and spices valued at $7.1 million, and fruit valued at $6.9 million.
The most important items of Egyptian imports from the United States were transportation spare parts valued at $840.1 million, cereals, seeds and oil seeds valued at $491.8 million, fuel and oils and their products valued at $393 million, mechanical machinery valued at $272.9 million, cars, vehicles and their spare parts valued at $192.6 million, cereals valued at $165.5 million, plastics and its products valued at $ 162.5 million, equipment and electrical appliances and spare parts valued at $ 131.4 million.
The institutional framework governing the economic relations between the two countries is the Framework Agreement on Trade and Investment TIFA, which held its last meetings in Washington late November and early December 2005 at ministerial level (Minister of Trade and Industry and U.S. Trade Representative).
The Qualifying Industrial Zones (QIZ) Agreement between Egypt and the United States of America and Israel signed on December 14th, 2004.
Convention on Judicial Assistance on Criminal Matters between the Governments of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United States of America.
Convention on the Avoidance of Double Taxation and the Prevention of Fiscal Evasion with respect to taxes on income, between the governments of the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United States of America.
Convention on Agricultural Exports & Rural Incomes between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United States of America.
Convention on the Strategic Objective of improving Health and Family Planning between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United States of America.
Convention on the Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments and the Supplementary Protocol between the Arab Republic of Egypt and the United States of America.
Convention on the Participatory Rural Appraisal and Planning between Egypt and the United States of America.
Cultural Agreement concluded between the United Arab Republic of Egypt and the United States of America.
On 28/1/2020: Chairman of the Arab Organization for Industrialization (AOI) Abdel Moneim el Terras Tuesday 28/1/2020 discussed with US Ambassador to Egypt Jonathan Cohen means of boosting cooperation with US firms.
They also discussed prospects of exchanging visits to get first hand information about the potentials and needs of both sides in various industrial fields.
The US ambassador hailed Egypt's efforts, under President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, in all development fields as well as progress achieved by the country in establishing national projects.
He described relations between Egypt and the US as distinguished.
Cohen affirmed his country's eagerness to open new vistas of cooperation and boost mutual manufacturing with Egypt.
The US diplomat praised the manufacturing and technical capabilities of the AOI, its diversified products and competent human cadres as well.
Terras, meanwhile, underscored the necessity of promoting cooperation, tapping modern technologies and exchanging the know-how with the US.
The AOI head highlighted the long-term cooperation maintained between his organization and mega US companies in many industrial domains, noting that the meeting tackled cooperation in producing rail locomotives and tractors in compliance with the international quality standards.
Cultural and Educational Relations
Egypt-US Strategic Dialogue
On 2 August, Egypt and the United States have launched a Strategic Dialogue in Cairo. This is a critical opportunity for leaders of both nations to discuss the vibrant diplomatic, security and economic ties and position relations towards 21st century imperatives. This strategic partnership is built on mutual interest in promoting prosperity, stability and defeating the common threat posed by international terrorism.
The Strategic Dialogue comes as Egypt’s economy continues to expand and modernize for the benefit of all Egyptians. Egypt recorded $5.7 billion of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) over the first three quarters of FY 2014/15 while the economy grew by 4.7 percent, compared to 1.6 percent growth over the same period last year. The U.S. continues to be one of Egypt’s key trading partners with nearly $8 billion in goods and services exchanged between the countries in 2014. U.S. FDI in Egypt totaled $2.1 billion, representing 32 percent of its total FDI in Africa.
The Big Three credit rating agencies—Moody’s, Fitch and S&P—have all upgraded Egypt’s standing and positively revised their outlooks. Meanwhile, Egypt has signed several deals announced at the highly successful Egypt Economic Development Conference (EEDC). This includes a gas turbine trade deal with General Electric (GE) worth $1.7 billion and a $9 billion deal with Germany’s Siemens to supply gas and wind power plants that will boost Egyptian electricity generation by 50 percent.
Egypt’s tourism industry, a key economic sector, continues to experience strong growth. The first quarter of 2015 saw a 6.9 percent increase over the same period last year in the total number of foreign visitors to Egypt, including a 30 percent increase in the number of American tourists alone.
On the security front, Egypt continues to take a leading role in ensuring regional stability and security. In 2014, Egypt led efforts to achieve a cease-fire between Israelis and Palestinians in Gaza. Today, Egypt is playing a key role in the international community’s efforts to restore stability and establish a national unity government in Libya. Egypt also recently hosted a conference in Cairo of Syria’s secular opposition leaders to help forge a sustainable political solution to the crisis there. Meanwhile, Egypt’s Navy safeguarded the Red Sea from hostilities in Yemen as part of the U.S.-backed Operation Decisive Storm. Egypt is working closely with the U.S. to combat violent extremism and is a coalition partner alongside the U.S. against the Islamic State terrorists in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), with Egypt providing intelligence and eliminating key sources of funding and recruitment.
US Secretary of State John Kerry, for his part, asserted that the US would continue to offer support and training for the Egyptian military, highlighting the US delivery of F-16 jets a few days ago.
Kerry said the two countries have large opportunities to cooperate over combating terrorism which required much of the national strategies.
He went on to say that more action should be made to prevent youths from turning to extremist thoughts, adding that strategies in this respect should be based on backing the religious and education authorities to work on the moral aspects.
Success in any country starts with a building of confidence between the official authorities and the people, noting that citizens are being much influenced by the works of the state foundations, Kerry added.
He added that the strategic relations between Egypt and the US are based on opportunities and not threats, Kerry said, stating that with Egypt gaining more power, reinforcement of the cooperation spheres would become a pressing matter.
He also highlighted the important and pivotal role played by Egypt at the regional and international levels.
The top US diplomat also praised the steps taken by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El Sisi to improve the economic climate in Egypt and provide more opportunities for the businessmen, adding that there should be more to be done and talks in this regard would offer better opportunities.
He added that Washington is strongly willing to back Egypt's economy, Kerry said, praising the important decisions taken by President Sisi in settling the power crisis, reducing subsidies on energy prices as well as granting licenses for the establishment of more energy projects.
He again voiced his country's resolve to carry out mega investment projects in Egypt.
Kerry said the US investments in Egypt in the past year stood at $ 2 billion, citing cooperation in the fields of innovation and patent rights, noting that the US is willing to beef up cooperation in order to support the projects of small- and medium-scale investments, pressing the need for removing barriers to turn ideas to practical projects serving the Egyptian economy and market.
Kerry also reiterated that the US and Egypt are closely cooperating to introduce political reforms and sounding governance which could be the launching pad for the success of any country in the 21st century.
Egypt has always been the center of the Arab world and the whole world, asserting that with the adjustment of its economic conditions, Cairo could restore its strong position once again, he explained.
Washington is committed to boosting its relations with Egypt, Kerry said, noting that Egypt has all the potentials which enable it to provide the basic rights to its citizens as well as the freedoms of press and expression.
He also voiced hope that this dialogue would bear fruit in the relations between the two countries, noting that friendship between the two countries is basically based on a common recognition of the joint interests and the importance of cooperation in fighting terrorism.