Russia uses ruble and Egyptian pound settlement in trade with Egypt

A combined image of half a hundred rubles and an Egyptian pound.

In an interview with Sada El-Balad TV on Thursday, Borisenko explained that Russia uses a similar local currency settlement mechanism in its trade with China – the Russian ruble and the Chinese yuan – under the Russian system of transfer of financial messages. (SPFS).

Russia pushed the Russian SPFS system as an alternative to the SWIFT international messaging system after major Russian banks were removed from the SWIFT system in line with Western sanctions against Moscow following the start of the Russian-Ukrainian war in February.

Russia has tried to increase the number of countries that allow Russians to make payments abroad via its Mir payment cards, which were first issued in 2014, after US payment companies Visa Inc and Mastercard have halted operations in Russia.

A number of countries have approved the use of Mir cards, including Turkey, Cuba, South Korea, and Vietnam.

Borisenko said Russia was working with the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to approve the use of Mir bank cards in payments in Egypt soon.

The approval of the use of the Mir card in Egypt will increase the number of Russian tourists in the country, the ambassador added.

Russian-Egyptian economic cooperation

Egypt and Russia have enjoyed strong economic cooperation over the past few years, with trade between the two countries reaching $4.7 billion in 2021 from $2.7 billion in 2018.

Russian tourists have been the largest group of visitors to Egypt in recent years, bringing millions of much-needed foreign currency to the country.

In 2021, more than 700,000 Russian tourists visited Egypt in 2021, according to figures reported by Borisenko last February.

In July 2021, Russia lifted a six-year ban on direct flights to Egypt’s Red Sea resort.

There are no official figures for the total number and breakdown by country of tourists to Egypt so far in 2022.

Egypt was planning to buy 80% of its wheat needs from Russia and Ukraine before the start of the war between the two countries.

The country continues to import wheat from Russia despite all the disruptions to supply lines caused by the war.

Russia is also helping Egypt build its first-ever nuclear power plant to generate electricity for peaceful purposes.

* EGP = 3 Russian rubles

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