Bilateral relations Switzerland–Egypt

Relations between Switzerland and Egypt have a long tradition. Egypt has always played a pivotal role in Swiss trade with the Middle East and Africa. A trade mission was opened as long ago as 1909.

Traditionally good relations

Switzerland was the venue for important steps on Egypt’s road to independence. A peace conference was held in Lausanne in 1923, for example, at which the Turkish Republic relinquished all its rights vis-à-vis Egypt. Switzerland recognized Egypt’s independence in 1924, signing a treaty of friendship ten years later. Switzerland opened a representative office in Cairo in 1935. In 1945 this was superseded by a legation, which was upgraded to an embassy in 1957. Because of its neutrality, Switzerland has in the past represented the interests of a number of states in Egypt. These include Italy, Bulgaria and Romania during the Second World War, and later 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. To this day Switzerland represents the interests of Iran in Egypt, as it has since 1979. In 1988 an arbitration tribunal in Geneva succeeded in resolving the problem of Taba, a left-over from the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty of 1979.

Numerous agreements

Relations between the two countries are governed by a series of bilateral agreements, on the compensation of Swiss interest (1964), investment protection (1973), double taxation (1987), air transport (1995) and legal assistance (2000). Egypt has benefited from four mixed loans totalling CHF 330 million. It was relieved of part of this debt in 1995. The Egyptian-Swiss development fund, which was set up at the same time, is scheduled to terminate in 2009. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (seco) is involved in various bilateral and multilateral programmes to promote the Egyptian private sector. Cooperations exist in the fields of water resources and irrigation, the environment and healthcare. On 27 January 2007, Egypt and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) signed a free-trade agreement, followed up by a new agreement on the protection and promotion of investments in 2012.

As a result of the revolution on 25 January 2011, Switzerland increased its support for Egypt, especially in the areas of transition to democracy, human rights, economic development, job creation and migration. A bilateral framework agreement on cooperation and humanitarian aid was signed in January 2013.