On 14 October 2020 the Federal Council adopted a specific strategy for the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA Strategy) for the 2021–24 period. It identifies five thematic priorities: peace, security and human rights; migration and protection of people in need; sustainable development; economic affairs, finance, science; and digitalisation and new technologies.
These priorities are weighted differently across the various regions and countries. In North Africa, Switzerland's activities focus on good governance, sustainable economic development and cooperation in the area of migration. The political upheavals of 2011 have paved the way for a long transition process in North Africa. Switzerland's commitment is aimed mainly at supporting these countries in their political, economic and social transition. Switzerland supports reforms aimed at improving economic prospects and increasing civic participation.
Foreign policy priorities for the MENA region
Switzerland's priorities in Egypt
The MENA Strategy 2021–24 identifies the following priorities for Switzerland in Egypt:
1. Peace, security and human rights
Switzerland raises human rights issues with the authorities and provides support and protection to human rights defenders. It offers civil society organisations platforms to discuss cross-cutting issues. Peace, security and human rights are taken into account in all areas as transversal themes.
2. Migration and protection of people in need
In cooperation with local and international partners, Switzerland runs projects to combat human trafficking and smuggling of migrants, to promote the integration of migrants and to improve access to the labour market.
3. Sustainable development
Switzerland supports initiatives in water management, recycling and the green economy to help mitigate the effects of climate change and urbanisation.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
4. Economic affairs, finance, science
Through its projects, Switzerland places particular emphasis on strengthening macroeconomic processes, infrastructure development and local SMEs. It focuses on access to financial resources, greater participation of women and young people in the labour market and vocational training with locally based Swiss companies.
Egypt is an important partner country for Switzerland in Africa, particularly in the Middle East and North Africa region. It is also Africa's main export market for Swiss companies. In 2020 the volume of trade between the two countries amounted to CHF 1.2 billion. Switzerland has concluded a number of agreements with Egypt. A bilateral agreement on reciprocal promotion and protection of investments came into effect in 2012, while a framework agreement on technical and financial cooperation and humanitarian aid entered into force in 2013. A free trade agreement between Egypt and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) entered into force in 2007.
Trade promotion, Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE)
Information on countries, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO)
Trade statistics, Swiss Federal Customs Administration (FCA)