France and Egypt

Political relations

Bilateral relations between France and Egypt are built on 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 to Egypt from 17-19 April 2016.

The two countries have converging positions on regional issues such as the Middle East Peace Process and Libya, Egypt is also 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.

Visits

2018
  • 5 April 2018 - Visit to France by Inès Abdeldaiem, Ministry of Culture
2017
  • 23 - 25 October 2017 - Official visit by President Sissi to France. Meetings with the President of the French Republic, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, Jean-Yves Le Drian, the Minister for the Armed Forces, Presidents of the National Assembly and the Senate.
  • 6 October 2017 - Visit to France by Sameh Shoukry, Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • 26 July 2017 - Visit to France by Sameh Shoukry,Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • 8 June 2017 - Visit to Egypt by Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs
2016
  • 25-28 May 2016 - Visit to Egypt by Jean-Marie Le Guen, Minister of State for Development and Francophonie
  • 20 December 2016 - Visit to Cairo by Harlem Désir, Minister of State for European Affairs (for the fourth ministerial meeting of the European Union and Arab League).
  • 29 September 2016 - Visit by Matthias Fekl, Minister of State for Foreign Trade, the Promotion of Tourism and French Nationals Abroad
  • 17-19 April 2016 - State visit by President of the French Republic François Hollande to Egypt
  • 9-10 March 2016 - Visit by Jean-Marc Ayrault, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Development to Cairo (meetings with President Sissi and Mr Ayrault’s counterpart, Sameh Shoukry)

Economic relations

France is a leading economic partner for Egypt. According to French Customs, in 2017 France and Egypt posted an increase of 21.8% in their trade, which totalled €2.5 billion, after experiencing their largest decrease in ten years in 2016 (a 27.5% lower year-on-year rate and €2 billion in trade). According to the Central Bank of Egypt, France ranked 11 among Egypt’s trade partners for the 2016/17 fiscal year (2.9% of Egypt’s overall trade), down a rank from 2015/16 (3.4% of trade).

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).

For more information, visit the following websites:

Updated: April 2018