India should consider negotiating a free trade agreement (FTA) with Egypt as the Mediterranean nation holds huge potential for the domestic industry in various sectors like agri products, steel items and light vehicles, according to exporters.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is in Cairo for a two-day state visit at the invitation of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi.

Federation of Indian Export Organisations (FIEO) Director General Ajay Sahai said that India and Egypt have historic trade relations, which are robust and fairly balanced.

India's exports increased to $4.1 billion in 2022-23 from $3.74 billion in 2021-22. However, imports from that country declined to about $ two billion against $3.5 billion in 2021-22.

Fertiliser, crude oil, chemicals, raw cotton, and raw hides are major import items from Egypt. The main export items include wheat, rice, cotton yarn, petroleum, meat, flat-rolled products, ferroalloys (related to iron) and light vehicles.

"The prime minister's visit is significant as Egypt is the gateway to Africa and Europe. A cementing of economic relations and possibly a feasibility study for FTA can be undertaken as Egypt has such FTAs with countries in West Asia and Africa," Sahai said.

Besides cooperation in agriculture, biotechnology, pharma, and renewable energy, India should explore tie-ups in logistics with Egypt, he added.

"We should look at taking trade to $15 billion in the next three years from the current over $ six billion," he said.

Engineering exporter and Director of Geco Trading Corporation Khalid Khan said that Egypt is a major trading partner of India in Africa.

Ludhiana-based engineering exporter and Hand Tools Association President SC Ralhan suggested that Egypt should consider starting trade with India in domestic currency.

About 50 Indian companies are operating in Egypt.