Swiss-Egyptian relations have a long tradition. Egypt has always played an important role in Switzerland's trade with the Middle East and Africa. A Swiss trade representation was opened in Egypt as early as 1909.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Egypt
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
A range of bilateral agreements regulate the relations between the countries: compensation of Swiss interests (1964), investment protection (1973), double taxation (1987), air transport (1995) and mutual legal assistance (2000). A free trade agreement between Egypt and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was signed on 27 January 2007 and entered into force in 2008. This was followed in 2012 by a new agreement on the protection and promotion of investments. In January 2013 a bilateral framework agreement on cooperation and humanitarian aid was signed, which has been in force since November 2014.
Egypt is an important partner country for Switzerland in Africa, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa region. Egypt is a priority country for Switzerland's International Cooperation.
Egypt was Switzerland's largest trading partner in Africa in both 2019 and 2020. Switzerland is the tenth largest trading partner for Egypt. In 2019, the total trade volume between the two countries reached CHF 1.3 billion. Compared to 2018, the total trade volume increased by 14.2%, with a significant increase in Swiss exports to Egypt (+24.7%).
Cooperation in the field of education
Researchers and artists from Egypt can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland supports the Egyptian people with an economic development cooperation programme since more than 40 years (1979).
Following the revolution of 25 January 2011, Switzerland expanded its support for Egypt and has since been involved in three key areas:
- Democratic processes and human rights
- Economic development and employment
- Migration and protection
The current Swiss Cooperation Strategy 2017-20 for Egypt is based on these three pillars. Within this framework, Switzerland supports Egypt through bilateral, multilateral and regional programmes and projects. Currently, there are cooperation projects in various areas such as migration, job creation, promotion of the private sector and macroeconomic reforms, stabilization of population growth, as well as waste and water management. The indicative budget for the period 2017-2020 is CHF 86 million and is implemented through a “Whole of Government Approach” by SECO, SDC, the State Secretariat incl. PHRD and SEM.
The new cooperation program for the period 2021-24 is currently being developed. It will be aligned with the International Cooperation strategy 2021-2024 and MENA strategy 2021-2024. The focus of the new program is on 4 shared priorities: rule of law, jobs, migration and climate change. The projects of the involved WOGA partners contribute to these priorities. The thematic areas (governance and human rights, growth and income, migration and protection) will be maintained. Switzerland will increase its engagement in job creation and vocational training, paying particular attention to the inclusion of youth, women and migrants. Switzerland’s financial commitment will remain at about the same level.
Peace and Human Rights
Switzerland's cooperation strategy in North Africa for the 2017–2020 period In terms of the first pillar of the cooperation strategy, Switzerland supports local organizations – mainly active in combating torture and unfair criminal justice practices – in the documentation of human rights violations, networking and capacity building. It also assists with the implementation of a dialogue and consultation process between the Egyptian authorities and civil society.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
There are lively cultural exchanges in a number of areas between Switzerland and Egypt, especially in the fields of music, theatre and film. The Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia opened its first office outside Switzerland in Cairo in 1988. The Swiss Institute of Egyptian Architectural and Archaeological Research has existed in Cairo since 1949. In 2017, Switzerland commemorated the 200-year anniversary of the discovery of the Abu Simbel temples by Swiss explorer J.L. Burckhardt. 2018 saw the launch of Swiss Trail, a phone application showcasing 20 Swiss-influenced landmarks across Cairo. Each year, Swiss films are screened at such events as the CIFF, the Panorama of the European Film and the Ismailia International Film Festival.
Swiss nationals in Egypt
At the end of 2020, there were 1,389 Swiss citizens living in Egypt.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland was the scene of important steps on Egypt's road to independence. A peace conference was held in 1923 in Lausanne, where the Republic of Turkey relinquished all rights concerning Egypt. In 1924, Switzerland recognized the independence of Egypt and in 1934 signed a treaty of friendship.
In 1935, Switzerland opened a chancellery in Cairo, which in 1945 was replaced by a legation (embassy from 1957). Thanks to its neutrality, Switzerland represented the interests of several states in Egypt during the Second World War and the decades thereafter. Today, Switzerland represents the interests of Iran in Egypt (since 1979).