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France and Egypt

Political relations

Egypt remains a key partner for France, in a fast-changing region. Dialogue has continued with the Egyptian authorities on the basis of historical relations. France shares similar views with Egypt on current regional crises.

Bilateral visits

  • 9-10 March 2016 – Visit by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development to Cairo (meetings with President al-Sisi and his counterpart, Mr Sameh Shoukry).
  • 10-11 October 2015 – Visit by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls to Cairo.
  • 6 August 2015 – The President of the French Republic travelled to Ismailia for the inauguration of the expansion of the Suez Canal.
  • 24-26 July 2015 – Visit by the French Minister of Defence to Egypt.
  • 20-21 June 2015 – The French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr Laurent Fabius, travelled to Egypt as part of a regional tour to discuss the possibilities of restarting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
  • 12-13 May 2015 – Visit to France by the Egyptian Prime Minister, Mr Ibrahim Mahlab. He met with the French President, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, the Minister of Defence and members of Parliament.
  • 13-14 March 2015 – The French Minister of Finance and Public Accounts travelled to Sharm El-Sheikh to attend the Egypt Economic Development Conference “Egypt The Future”.
  • 4-5 March 2015 – Visit to Cairo by the Minister of State for Development and Francophonie. Bilateral visit and participation in the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment (AMCEN).
  • 11 January 2015 – Visit to France by the Egyptian Foreign Minister, Mr Sameh Shoukry, to take part in the republican march to commemorate the victims of the Charlie Hebdo attack.
  • 25-27 November 2014 – Official visit by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to France. He met with the French President, the Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, the Minister of Defence, Mr Jean-Yves Le Drian, and the Presidents of the National Assembly and the Senate. He spoke before the Franco-Egyptian Presidential Business Council at MEDEF International.
  • 30-31 October 2014 – Visit by the Egyptian Minister of Finance, Mr Hany Kadry Damian, who met with the Minister of Finance, Mr Michel Sapin.
  • 20 September 2014 – Participation by the Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Mr Laurent Fabius, in the Cairo Conference on Palestine.
  • 23 September 2014 – Meeting in New York between the French President and the President of the Arab Republic of Egypt, Mr Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, on the occasion of the United Nations General Assembly.
  • 15 September 2014 – Visit to Egypt by the French Minister of Defence, who met with President al-Sisi and the Egyptian Minister of Defence.
  • 2 September 2014 – Visit to France by the Egyptian Foreign Minister Mr Sameh Shoukry. Meetings with the French President and the Minister of Foreign Affairs.
  • 18-19 July 2014 – Visit to Egypt by the French Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development, Laurent Fabius, in the context of the crisis in Gaza.

For further information, see: http://www.ambafrance-eg.org/

Military cooperation

On 16 February 2015, Egypt signed a €5.2 billion contract for the purchase of 24 Rafale fighter aircraft, a multi-mission frigate and missiles. On 10 October 2015, it signed a further agreement for the purchase of two Mistral-class force projection and command vessels.

Economic relations

After growing steadily from 2008, and then slowing down since the start of the revolution, trade between the two countries increased by 2.8% in 2014 to €2.61 billion. According to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), France is Egypt’s ninth-largest trading partner.

The main exports from France to Egypt are cereals, pharmaceuticals, motor vehicles, chemicals and refined petroleum products. France is Egypt’s fifth-largest supplier (French exports to Egypt increased 17.2% in 2014). It also ranks fifth for direct investment in Egypt (€3 billion of direct investment stock in 2014).

Egypt is France’s leading supplier in the Middle East, with a 48% share of our imports from the region. France was Egypt’s 10th-largest customer in 2014. Imports from Egypt are dependent on a few key products (oil, fertilizers) accounting for almost 64% of the total (against 80% in 2010).

French tourists have long been attracted to Egypt, although their numbers declined sharply following the revolution of 25 January 2011.

Financial cooperation has traditionally been significant: Egypt is the third-largest beneficiary of the Private Sector Aid Fund (FASEP) mechanism and a leading beneficiary of Coface tools. In December 2014, France granted a €344 million soft loan via the Emerging Markets Reserve mechanism for the provision of rolling stock for line 3 of the Cairo Metro, a flagship economic cooperation project between France and Egypt for more than 30 years. The Agence française de développement (AFD, French Development Agency), which opened a branch in Cairo in early 2007, has also decided to upgrade its commitments. On 23 September 2012, it granted a €300 million loan for line 3 of the Cairo Metro (together with the EU and the European Investment Bank, EIB).

Cultural, scientific and technical cooperation

Cooperation with Egypt is driven in particular by the Institut français (French Institute) in Egypt, which has three sites (Cairo, Alexandria and Heliopolis).

In the field of research, the French presence is ensured in particular by the French Research Institute for Development (IRD) and the Centre for Social, Judicial and Economic Documentation and Study (CEDEJ), whose work focuses on present-day Egypt and Sudan in all disciplines of the social sciences and humanities (law, economics, political science, geography, etc.).

France’s prominent position in the field of archaeology in Egypt is ensured by the French Institute of Oriental Archaeology (IFAO), the French-Egyptian Centre for the Study of the Temples of Karnak (CFEETK), the Centre d’Etudes Alexandrines (CEAlex), as well as 11 archaeological missions.

Franco-Egyptian academic cooperation is based on the French-speaking sections at Egyptian universities and the French University in Egypt (UFE), which seek to provide excellent quality education. French remains the second most-taught foreign language in Egypt and is the teaching language for over 45,000 students in bilingual schools, most of which are faith schools.

Finally, in the technical field, France has a wide-ranging cooperation policy in Egypt in very many sectors, in particular the civil service and the judiciary. France thus participates each year in a cooperation scheme which allows Egyptian senior officials and judges to be trained at the National School of Public Administration (ENA) and the National School for the Judiciary (ENM).

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Updated: 05/02/2016

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