Switzerland and Egypt have a long tradition of relations. Egypt has always played an important role in Switzerland's trade with the Middle East and Africa, with a Swiss representation for trading purposes being opened there as early as 1909.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Egypt
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 MENA region (Middle East and North Africa) and Africa. In 2013 and 2014 Egypt was the most important Swiss market on the African continent. In terms of total trade volume for 2014 (approximately CHF 1.13 billion), Egypt is Switzerland's fifth largest African trading partner behind South Africa, Ghana, Libya and Burkina Faso, and the fifth largest in the MENA region (behind the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Israel and Libya).
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).
Peace promotion and human security
As part of its North Africa programme, since 2011 Switzerland has been supporting projects in Egypt in the areas of human rights promotion and development of local dialogue and conflict transformation capacities.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland's 2011–2016 North Africa programme covers three areas:
- Democratic transition 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 more than CHF 22 million in 2015.
There are lively cultural exchanges in a number of areas between Switzerland and Egypt, in particular 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 2015, there were 1,478 Swiss nationals 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, including those of Italy, Bulgaria and Romania during the Second World War, and later those 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).