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.
With a total trade volume in 2018 of CHF 1.1 billion, Egypt is Switzerland’s fifth largest trading partner in Africa. It is also Africa's main export market for Swiss companies.
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
Peacebuilding and human security
Switzerland's cooperation strategy in North Africa for the 2017–2020 period is composed of three pillars:
Democratic processes and human rights
Economic development and employment
Migration and protection
In terms of the strategy's first pillar, Switzerland supports local organisations – 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
After the revolution of 25 January 2011, Switzerland increased its support for Egypt in the aforementioned areas.
As part of its cooperation strategy in North Africa, Switzerland supports the development of the Egyptian private sector through bilateral and multilateral programmes. Cooperation projects have been set up in the fields of migration, job creation in rural areas, stabilisation of population growth, water management and irrigation.
Resources devoted to international cooperation with Egypt amounted to approximately CHF 84 million in 2011–2016.
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 2018, there were 1,337 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 recognised 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).