France and Egypt

Political relations

Bilateral relations between France and Egypt are built on a historically strong ties of friendship and confidence, and have developed considerably in all areas over the last three years.

High-level bilateral meetings have increased considerably, including the visit of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi to France from 25-27 November 2014, that of Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab on 13 May 2015, the participation of the President of the French Republic as guest of honour at the inauguration on 6 August 2015 of works to widen the Suez Canal, the visit to Cairo of the Prime Minister on 10 and 11 October 2015, and the State visit of the French President from 17-19 April 2016.

The two countries have converging positions on regional issues such as the Middle East Peace Process and Libya, and Egypt is a key partner in the fight against terrorism. This partnership draws on close defence 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, and on 17 April 2016 it signed another for the acquisition of a military communications satellite.

Economic relations

France is a leading economic partner for Egypt. Trade reached €2 billion in 2015, of which €1.5 billion of French exports and €0.5 billion of French imports. The flow of French foreign direct investment (FDI) totalled $250 million in 2015-2016, with stock standing at €3.5 billion in 2015.

France’s economic presence in Egypt, made up of 160 subsidiaries of French companies employing more than 30,000 people, has also grown recently. French companies have strong positions in key sectors of the Egyptian economy, such as industry, agri-food, electrical equipment, pharmaceuticals, distribution, hydrocarbon exploitation, tourism and infrastructure.

The signing of emblematic contracts for our companies regularly confirms the quality of our bilateral economic relationship. In the transport sector, the Cairo Metro is a flagship project for bilateral cooperation, with significant participation by French companies and enjoying exceptional French financial support (more than €2 billion in concessional financing since 1980). In respect of this project, French companies were recently awarded contracts for phase 4A of line 3 (€440 million) and for signalling (€170 million), electro-mechanical equipment (€480 million) and civil engineering for phase 3 of line 3 (€1.12 billion). In the military field, several major export contracts have been concluded: sale of 4 corvettes by DCNS (May 2014); 24 Rafale fighter aircraft by Dassault Aviation; a multi-mission frigate by DCNS and weapon systems by MBDA (February 2015). In October 2015, Egypt also purchased the two Mistral-class force projection and command vessels built by DCNS and initially destined for Russia.

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), focusing on the disciplines of humanities and social sciences and carrying out research into three themes (Governance and Public Policies, Development-Urban Studies-Mobility, and Digital Humanities).

France’s leading 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 several archaeological missions.

The Francophone tradition has left its mark on the Egyptian elites. Mr Boutros Boutros-Ghali was the first Secretary-General of the International Organisation of La Francophonie from 1998 to 2002. In addition to the two directly-managed schools and accredited establishments, bilingual schools are the cornerstone of the French-speaking community and educate students who go on to study French-language courses in higher education and at the French University in Egypt (UFE), which aim to offer outstanding education.

Finally, in the technical field, France implements a wide-ranging cooperation policy in Egypt in many sectors, in particular the administration 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: October 2017