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Egypt builds unlikely friendship with South Korea

In March 2016, Egypt’s President Abdel al-Sisi travelled to South Korea, where he signed a comprehensive partnership agreement that aimed to broaden the scope of cooperation between the two countries, particularly on trade and military matters.

In turn, South Korea’s then-president, Moon Jae-in, was received in Cairo during his tour of the Gulf and North Africa in January 2022, and the two presidents signed several memorandums of understanding MoUs that demonstrated how far the relationship had progressed in six years. These included a $1bn deal on “financial cooperation”, with Seoul also offering hundreds of millions of dollars in loans and grants.

Last year, trade between South Korea and Egypt surpassed $3bn, with Egyptian exports to Seoul reaching an all-time high of $1.69bn – an increase of over 160% compared to the year before. According to the Export-Import Bank of Korea, as of 2022, South Korea had made cumulative investments of just under $800m in Egypt. But what explains the increased political and economic significance both countries are attaching to a relationship that continues to grow in scope, depth, and geopolitical importance?

Learning from Korea’s economic miracle

Egyptian officials have suggested that it sees South Korea, which developed rapidly in the years after the conclusion of the Korean War in 1953, as an inspiration for its own potential development. In the early 1960s, successive South Korean governments decided to use the cheap labour available in the country as a competitive advantage for the production of cheap goods for export.

Source: African Business

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