BOFIT Viikkokatsaus / BOFIT Weekly 2019/45

On October 23–24, Russia hosted the Africa-Russia Economic Forum in the Black Sea coastal city of Sochi. Egypt, the current chairman of the African Union acted as co-host. In addition to forum discussions, bilateral meetings between countries took place.

At the forum, experts discussed the possibility for Russia-Africa economic cooperation and Russian officials and corporations showcased Russian expertise, products and services. While Russia does not have large amounts of capital to invest, it has some interesting goods and services to offer to African states. These mainly involve arms, energy production, raw material extraction and food production.

Russia-Africa trade is quite modest, but Russia is not starting from zero. The forum is part of an effort to revive relationships that were formed during the Soviet era.

Egypt is Russia’s top trading partner on the African continent. Russian customs reports that last year Egypt accounted for 1.6 % of Russian goods exports and 0.2 % of goods imports. Other African nations accounted for considerably less. In earlier years, Egypt was a major beach vacation destination for Russian tourists. As part of Egypt’s plans to develop the Suez Canal area, it is establishing a special industrial zone for Russian firms. China is also involved in developing the same area.