Russian President Vladimir Putin on Sunday said his country was "actively discussing" the idea to exclude US dollars in the bilateral trade with Egypt and use national currencies – roubles and Egyptian pounds – instead.
In an interview with local Egyptian Al-Ahram daily newspaper, he said that the idea of removing dollars as the currency of exchange between Egypt and Russia was advantageous mainly because it would "contribute to creating more favourable conditions for millions of Russian citizens who annually spend their holidays" in Egypt. He added that the tourist season was coming closer.
"This measure will open up new prospects for trade and investment cooperation between our countries, reduce its dependence on the current trends in the world markets," he said referring to the exclusion of dollars from the two markets, the Kremlin said in a release.
"Therefore, it is quite natural that the business circles of both States raised an issue of advisability of using national currencies for bilateral payments"
Highlighting the fact that Russia already uses its national currencies for trade with countries such as China, he added that the practice would "prove its worth."
"We are ready to adopt it in our relations with Egypt as well. This issue is being discussed in substance by relevant agencies of both countries," he told the paper.
According to Putin, more than $4.5 billion worth of bilateral trade took place between Moscow and Cairo in 2014 – an increase of almost 50% from what was last year. Nearly 40% of grain consumed in Egypt is imported from Russia while Moscow buys fruits and vegetables from the country.
"We see promising prospects in the field of high technology, particularly in the areas of nuclear energy, outer space use and sharing of the Russian GLONASS satellite navigation system," Putin said.
This comes as Russia is facing one of the worst economic crises in recent memories, thanks to the increased sanctions imposed by the United States and other Western nations due to its alleged role in the fight in East Ukraine. Moscow is accused of arming the pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine and escalating tensions in the area.