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
Relations between the two countries are governed by a range of bilateral agreements: compensation of Swiss interests (1964), investment protection (1973), double taxation (1987), air transport (1995) and 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 the Middle East and North Africa region, as well as in Africa. With a total trade volume in 2016 of almost CHF 1.3 billion, Egypt is Switzerland’s third largest trading partner in Africa.
Cooperation in the field of education
Researchers and artists from Egypt can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI).
Peacebuilding and human security
Since 2011, Switzerland has supported human rights projects in Egypt as part of its North Africa programme.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland's interdepartmental North Africa programme covers three areas:
Democratic processes and human rights
Economic development and employment
Migration and protection
After the revolution of 25 January 2011, Switzerland increased its support for Egypt in the areas of democratic change, human rights, economic development, job creation and migration.
Switzerland supports development of the Egyptian private sector through bilateral and multilateral programmes. Cooperation agreements exist in the areas of water management and irrigation, the environment and the health sector.
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 2015 Switzerland supported the renovation of the Museum of Islamic Art.
Swiss nationals in Egypt
At the end of 2016, there were 1,543 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 chancery 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, including those of Italy, Bulgaria and Romania. Later, it represented the interests of France (1956–63), Belgium (1961-64), Turkey (1961–63), the United Kingdom (1956–59) and New Zealand (1956–59).
Conversely, during the Second World War Switzerland represented Egypt's interests in Romania, Bulgaria, Finland and Japan. Today, Switzerland represents the interests of Iran in Egypt (since 1979).