Today, the Arab Republic of Egypt proudly commemorates its Revolution of July 23rd 1952. Sixty-Eight years ago, Egypt witnessed a peaceful revolt that raised the slogans of dignity, equality, social justice and national sovereignty, which has enabled the Egyptian nation to assume its righteous role as an active player and advocate of peace, political and economic independence, and international justice across the world. Putting those noble principles into action has brought Egypt closer to her counterparts in the Global South who shared the same challenges, visions and aspirations, allowing her to build and foster ties with friendly nations including Sri Lanka. It gives me a great honor on this auspicious occasion to extend my sincere greetings and best wishes to His Excellency the President, the government and the friendly people of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka.
Egypt and Sri Lanka have always enjoyed excellent relations throughout history and across governments. Egyptians and Sri Lankans have traded valuable goods and exchanged cultural, religious and humanitarian practices for centuries. In 1957, Egypt was the first African and Arab country to establish official diplomatic relations with Sri Lanka following its independence. Both countries played pivotal roles in launching and leading the Non-Aligned Movement and various South-South cooperation schemes. Throughout more than six decades, Sri Lanka and Egypt have worked closely in all international fora to disseminate peace, stability and international justice.
Relations between both countries have gained a remarkable momentum since H.E. President Gotabaya Rajapaksa assumed office in November 2019. First Round of Bilateral Political Consultations between our Ministries of Foreign Affairs was held in Cairo in December 2019, headed on the Sri Lankan side by Foreign Secretary Mr. Ravinatha Aryasinha, where prospects of enhancing cooperation in various fields have been thoroughly explored. Today, Egypt and Sri Lanka are bound by more than twenty bilateral agreements and memoranda of understanding covering the fields of trade, investment, tourism, culture, arts, education, civil aviation, political consultation and security cooperation. More drafts are being considered on both sides to upgrade our contractual framework.
During the current COVID-19 crisis, both countries showed much resilience on the foreign trade front and were able to facilitate the bilateral flow of commercial goods with significant success. This has resulted in Sri Lanka being able to export a total of 738 tons of its products to Egypt during the two months of April and May 2020 only, including 264 tons of Ceylon tea, 208 tons of desiccated coconut, 26 tons of cocoa powder, 234 tons of rubber products, and 7 tons of PPEs. Similarly, Egyptian products, especially fresh fruits and vegetables, have been smoothly exported to Sri Lanka. This has been an exemplary practice during such critical times.
Nowadays, Egypt and Sri Lanka are facing the same set of threats and challenges in terms of extremism and terrorism, economic hardships post COVID-19 closures, attempts to revive tourism, climate change, drug and human trafficking, illegal migration and all forms of transnational organized crimes. This necessitates closer cooperation and coordination between our two countries in all aspects.
I hereby confidently state that our long-standing bilateral relations are on the right track. Meanwhile, we will not spare any effort to enhance those relations and move them to wider horizons for the benefit of our nations and peoples.