Bilateral relations Switzerland–Egypt

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.

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

Treaty database

Economic cooperation

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.

Trade promotion, Switzerland Global Enterprise SGE

 Information on countries, SECO

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.

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

International cooperation

Swiss Cooperation Strategy for North Africa 2017–20

Swiss Cooperation Strategy for Egypt 2017-2020

Economic development cooperation in Egypt, SECO

Twitter account of the Swiss embassy in Egypt

Cultural exchanges

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).

Egypt, Historical Dictionary of Switzerland (de, fr, it)

Diplomatic Documents of Switzerland, Dodis