- Broader prospects for promoting bilateral trade
The very first flights of Egypt Air Cargo, the national freighter of Egypt, landed in Bandaranaike International Airport on August 2nd and 5th. The freighters departed BIA with a total of 188 tons of Sri Lankan products to export destinations worldwide, benefiting from the broad global network of EgyptAir. Ambassador of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Colombo Hussein El Saharty announced that this long-awaited event is considered an inaugural step towards establishing a regular air transport route between Egypt and Sri Lanka, which will broaden the horizons for bilateral trade between the two friendly countries, and through them to the
Ambassador El Saharty praised the efforts exerted by both Sunil Adikaram, General Manager Sales and Operations of Forwardair Aviation, the Cargo General Sales Agent of EgyptAir in Sri Lanka and his efficient team on one side, and EgyptAir Cargo team in Cairo on the other side, to attain this significant achievement.
Ambassador El Saharty revealed that feasibility studies are now being carried on both sides to consider several options for establishing a regular transit cargo route for EgyptAir either through BIA or MRIA, benefiting from the growing facilities in both hubs.
Bilateral trade values between Egypt and Sri Lanka averaged US$ 50 million annually in the last few years. Even during recent COVID-19 lockdowns, exporters, trade authorities and diplomatic mission in both countries worked hard to facilitate the regular and smooth flow of trade, resulting 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, 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 citrus fruits, have been smoothly exported to Sri Lanka during the same period. Huge trade potentials are still to be explored and untapped.
It is worth mentioning that the first bilateral agreement between Egypt and Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) for the operation of regular flights was signed in 1950 in London, while the first trade and payments agreement was concluded in 1954 in Cairo. Another updated air transport agreement has been signed in 2005. Colombo and Cairo have been connected through direct regular flights operated by Air Ceylon from the late 1940s until the late 1970s, while EgyptAir has operated intermittently between both capitals during subsequent years. The future holds immense opportunities for enhancing trade and connections between both countries.