Egypt and France
Monday، 23 October 2017 - 12:00 AM
The Egyptian-French relations are based on historical and cultural foundations. The scientific mission that accompanied the French Campaign against Egypt had the lead in deciphering the Rosetta stone and reading the ancient Egyptian language.
Egypt and France have maintained distinguished relations in the modern era on the political, economic, cultural, educational and many other fields.
In this presentation we address the privacy of the relations between the two countries , in addition to the history and current relations on the political, economic, cultural and military levels.
First: Privacy of French-Egyptian relations in the last 200 years
The Egyptian-French relations are characterized by their privacy . All over the past two centuries they were constant and that helped the political and diplomatic work between the two countries to be an important pillar on which bilateral relations are based. The most important aspects of the relations between the two countries are as follows:
The period after the French campaign on Egypt until the Suez war in 1956, where the relations were tense to some extent , but generally speaking they were stronger than any other relations with other countries. The beginning of this period was an extension to the period that the French spent in Egypt, in terms of the scientific, cultural, and industrial renaissance initiated by Mohamed Ali.
The relations since the rule of General De Gaulle until January 25th 2011, Egyptian-French relations since President Nasser took office until the January 25th Revolution have been fruitful. Since General De Gaulle's rule till today, the French foreign policy was characterized by economic, commercial and technical cooperation on bases of the bilateral levels.
On the economic level, the cooperation between the two countries was diverse in direct investment, commercial exchange and preferential financing .On the military level, a number of military agreements have been concluded. Bilateral military exercises run every two years on the Egyptian territory. Both countries participated in a naval exercise known as " Cleopatra ", where the last naval exercises were held on the Alexandria coast from 8 to 13 December 2012. There are also bilateral air drills between the two countries known as "Nefertari", the last of which was held from October 29 to November 12, 2012. The two countries also cooperated in military equipments.
The relations after June Revolution: The past few years, especially after the June 30 Revolution, have witnessed more cooperation between the two countries, especially on the military field. France has provided Egypt with many advanced weapons in addition to the transfer of military technology to Egypt. This is in addition to the Egyptian-French cooperation in the field of combating terrorism, reducing illegal immigration and the permanent coordination in handling the regional and international files in various international forums.
On 24/10/2017, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi started a three-day visit to Paris during which met his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron and other senior officials. The president's visit to Paris is his third since taking office and the first visit to the Élysée Palace since Macron took office.
On 5/10/2017: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry had talks with his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian in Paris. The two sides discussed bilateral relations along with the recent developments in the Middle East, especially the situation in Libya, Syria and Iraq.
On 25/7/2017: Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab received French Minister of Defense Jean-Yves Le Drian to discuss relations, military cooperation and measures adopted by both sides to fight terrorism.
On 8/6/2017: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in the presence of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry. During the meeting, Sisi urged maintaining coordination between Egypt and France on issues of mutual concern, notably terrorism.
On 5/6/2017: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met French Defense Minister Sylvie Goulard in the presence of Minister of Defense and Military Production Sedqi Sobhi. Sisi asserted Egypt’s keenness on boosting cooperation and coordination with France especially in the military field.
On 25/4/2017: Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research Khaled Abdel Ghaffar visited France to attend the 201st session of UNESCO Executive Board, in which participated as the chairman of the Egyptian National commission for UNESCO.
On 21/3/2017: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi received a delegation from the Egyptian-French Friendship Group of the French Senate.
On 23/1/2017: President Abed El Fattah El Sisi met President of Paris's Arab World Institute Jack Lang who transferred a message from the French president François Hollande. Sisi asserted Egypt's keenness on presenting a civilized model example that is based on respecting the principles and ideas of others even in case of having different opinions, as well consolidating citizenship and non-discrimination on religious, ethnic or sectarian bases.
On 8/11/2016: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi met French Senate President Gerard Larcher. Sisi stressed the importance of developing strategic relations with France in all fields.
On 4/10/2016: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry received Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French candidate for the World Health Organization's (WHO) director general.
On 25/9/2016: President Abdel Fatah El Sisi met French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. Sisi hailed the significant progress in relations with France in all fields, especially the military ones. The President asserted the importance of stepping up bilateral coordination to face joint challenges, notably the threat of terrorism that crosses the boundaries of the Middle East region.
On 24/9/2016: Media delegations from France arrived in Cairo to visit tourist sites in Egypt. The French delegation visited Luxor and Aswan.
On 20/9/2016: Tourism Minister Yehia Rashed attended the inauguration of France's international travel and tourism trade fair Top Resa. He also visited the 84 square meter Egyptian pavilion in which Egypt Air participates alongside several other companies. The minister held a series of meetings with representatives from travel agencies and tour organizers to highlight the state's efforts to boost tourism.
On 29/8/2016: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry headed for the French capital Paris to hold consultations with his French counterpart Jean-Marc Ayrault. The talks basically focused on Egyptian and French efforts to activate peacemaking on the Palestinian-Israeli track.
On 3/6/2016: Foreign Affairs Minister Sameh Shoukry addressed the international ministerial meeting on the peace process in the Middle East in Paris.
On 1/6/2016: Defense Minister Sedki Sobhi headed for Paris in a several-day official visit. The visit comes as part of efforts to promote cooperation between Egypt and France.
On 24/5/2016: Al Azhar Grand Imam and Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders (MCE) Dr. Ahmed el Tayyeb arrived in Paris to open the second international forum entitled "East and West: Dialogue of Civilizations".
On 7/5/2016: Prime Minister Sherif Ismail met a delegation of the Egyptian-French Friendship Group of the French Parliament. Ismail said the French delegation's visit reflects distinguished relations between Egypt and France.
On 17/4/2016: President Abdel Fattah El Sisi held a session of talks with his visiting French counterpart Francois Hollande on means of promoting bilateral relations and expanding cooperation aspects in the trade, economic and investment spheres. President Sisi and his French counterpart attended the signing of a number of cooperation agreements, declarations of intent, action plans and joint declarations in the different domains, including transport, renewable energy, vocational training and social protection.
On 10/10/2015: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received an invitation from his French counterpart Francois Hollande to take part in the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris (COP21), slated for December. The invitation was delivered by visiting French Prime Miniter Manuel Valls. Sisi and Valls stressed the deeply-rooted political, cultural and economic relations binding Egypt and France, which have recently witnessed a great momentum.
On 8/9/2015: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri chaired Egypt's delegation to the International Conference on the victims of attacks and abuse on ethnic or religious grounds in the Middle East to be chaired by French President Francois Hollande and attended by Jordanian King Abdullah II and a large number of foreign ministers.
On 7/9/2015: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri starts visit to France. Spokesman for the Foreign Ministry Ahmed Abu Zaid said Shoukri would meet with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius in Paris over bilateral relations in various fields, as well as regional files, especially the Middle East peace process and proposals put forward to push it up, as well as counter-terrorism efforts and the need to unify the international community's efforts and strengthen cooperation in this regard.
On 25/7/2015: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi met with Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French Defense Minister. The French minister conveyed to President Sisi the greeting of French President Francois Hollande and his keenness on attending the inauguration of the New Suez Canal next month.
On 22/6/2015: Defense Minister Sedqi Sobhi arrived in Paris on a several days' visit to France. Leading a high profile military delegation, Sobhi will have important talks with senior French military officials on regional and international issues of common concern.
On 20/6/2015: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri met with his French counterpart Laurent Fabius. The meeting took up bilateral relations. Also, regional and international issues of mutual concern were discussed.
On 12/5/2015: French Ambassador in Cairo Andre Baran said that France's relations with Egypt greatly developed after President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi's visit to Paris in November, which was followed by mutual visits to discuss ways of pushing cooperation in various fields.
On 11/5/2015: Prime Minister Ibrahim Mahlab described his three-day visit to France as important to follow up French investment projects in Egypt that had been agreed upon. Mahlab said Egyptian-French relations are at their best, especially after a successful summit meeting between the leaders of the two countries.
On 16/2/2015: Egypt and France called on the UN Security Council to convene and take "tough measures" to combat the Daesh terrorist group, the Elysee palace said in a statement. In a phone call, French President Francois Hollande asserted to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi his country's support for Egypt.
On 11/1/2015: Foreign Ministry Spokesman Badr Abdel-Atti reiterated Egypt's support for France in fighting terrorism. Speaking to ON TV channel, he said the participation of Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry in the Paris march against terrorism reflects Egypt's unwavering support for France at this critical stage.
On 14/12/2014: Egypt and France reached an agreement to promote judicial cooperation between both countries.
On 26/11/2014: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and his French counterpart Francois Hollande held summit talks at the Elysee Palace. Talks started with a tête-à-tête session of talks that was followed with an expanded one attended by delegations from both countries. The President later met with Head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the French Parliament Elizabeth Gigo. The two sides discussed the latest developments in Egypt and the completion of the roadmap, as well as cooperation between the French parliament and the coming parliament in Egypt.
On 27/11/2014: President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi held #a meeting with French businessmen to discuss ways of cementing trade relations with France. The meeting focused on the Egypt's efforts to improve the climate of investment. The Egyptian economic conference, slated for March 2015, was also discussed during the meeting. Head of the Suez Canal Authority Mohab Mamish is set to convene with French investors to discuss investment opportunities in the new Suez Canal Project.
On 16/6/2014: President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi received French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, who delivered a personal message from French president François Holland. Sedqi Subhi, General Commander of the Armed Forces and Minister of Defence and Military Production, Nicolas Galey, French ambassador to Cairo, and Lewis Fassi, special advisor of French defense minister, were present. During the meeting, the two sides reviewed bilateral relations between the two countries and ways of reinforcing them in all fields, including fighting terrorism. The two sides further compared notes regarding a number of regional and international issues of mutual concern, notably the situation in the Middle East, especially developments in Iraq, Syria and Libya.
On 3/9/2014: Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that he discussed with French President Francois Hollande bilateral relations and a number of regional and international issues of common interest. On his part, the French President praised Egypt's role in reaching a truce between the Palestinians and Israel in the Gaza Strip, Shoukry said. Shoukry said that he briefed the French president on the latest developments in Egypt regarding the implementation of the road map and the exerted efforts in the economic and legislative reforms to establish a modern democratic country. Shoukry added that he also updated Hollande on the major challenges facing Egypt in the current period, especially in fighting terrorism.
On 17/7/2014: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received a French parliamentary delegation for talks on bilateral relations. The delegation underscored the importance of further fostering bilateral relations especially with the security challenges facing the region. The delegation also expressed their appreciation for the Egyptian ceasefire initiative in Gaza, hailing Egypt's role in the Arab and Islamic world. The talks also took up Egypt's efforts for combating terrorism with no prejudice to human rights.
On 18/7/2014: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi received at the presidency headquarters visiting French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius. Talks between President Sisi and the French foreign minister took up bilateral relations and regional developments. Sisi and Fabius agreed on the importance of cooperation in the face of challenges that jeopardize not only regional security, but that of Europe as well.
Since outset of the 80s, the economic and trade relations between Egypt and France have been witnessing notable growth. France is considered one of the most important investors in Egypt and one of the significant markets for the Egyptian exporters. The Egyptian-French economic and trade relations are governed by a number of cooperation agreements and protocols; the most important of which is Egyptian-European Association Agreement. The Association Agreement allowed a large number of Egyptian goods to access the EU markets in general and the French market in particular without customs.
France is the 6th biggest investor in Egypt in 2016 with €3.5 billion worth of investments, which makes it the 7th biggest importer to Egypt. The volume of bilateral trade increased in the first eight months of 2017. French exports rose by 9.2% (1.1 billion Euros / 1.3 billion dollars) against 21% imports (401.4 million Euros / 478.8 million dollars).
Meanwhile, there are 160 French corporations operating on Egyptian soil, employing more than 30,000 Egyptians in all fields.
On October, 26, 2021 Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly and Matthias Kormann, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), signed a memorandum of understanding to launch a 3-year programme between the two parties in Paris.
The Programme will support a structural reform agenda by providing analysis, advice and guidance to inform the design and implementation of policies to help address Egypt’s main economic challenges while moving towards closer alignment with OECD policy standards.
“Such a comprehensive Country Programme can help Egypt to increase its competitiveness and integration in the global economy,” said Prime Minister Madbouly.
“The Country Programme will enable Egypt to advance on its priorities under the second phase of the National Programme for Economic and Social Reform. It will also serve as guidance for the implementation of the recently revised sustainable development strategy Egypt Vision 2030.”
“Today we have taken an important step forward in our collaboration with Egypt,” Secretary-General Cormann said. “As North Africa’s biggest economy and one of the most engaged Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries in OECD committees, Egypt is an important partner for the OECD. Egypt’s commitment to this programme demonstrates its clear commitment to necessary structural reforms to benefit the Egyptian people.”
Madbouly was accompanied by Egypt’s Ministers of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, International Cooperation, Trade and Industry, Communications and Information Technology, and Electricity and Renewable Energy.
According to the memorandum of understanding signed, the programme envisions 35 projects with a coordination function to ensure that it is implemented and monitored effectively. It is based on five thematic pillars dealing with specific topics.
The first pillar tackled inclusive and sustainable economic growth will address bottlenecks to productivity growth, promote competition in the economy, develop financial markets, and address other priorities to nurture a more competitive and inclusive economy.
Egypt was the only country in the MENA region to see positive GDP growth in 2020 despite the global Covid-19 pandemic. According to the latest projections of Egypt’s Ministry of Planning and Economic Development, real GDP is expected to grow by 3.3% in 2020/21, before reaching 5.6% in 2021/22. Distributing the dividends of such growth is a key priority for the Egyptian government.
While the second pillar focuses on innovation and digital transformation includes projects that will intersect with education policy and human capital development to better take advantage of the digital transformation and promote innovation. Egypt invests 0.72% of GDP in R&D, a third of the OECD average (2.37%). While digital connectivity has improved, significant room for growth remains.
Governance and anti-corruption constitute the third pillar, which will address a series of priority issues such as administrative reforms, better legislation, regulations and institutions, digital government, the rule of law and anti-corruption. Improving governance, strengthening the rule of law and the fight against corruption remains an important priority for Egypt as it aims to promote a greater level playing field for the private sector.
The fourth pillar focuses on statistics, it will aim to improve data in specific themes, including the economy, private sector performance, gender, and trade in value-added. Improving the availability and governance of statistics in Egypt is essential to gather comprehensive evidence, including on the state of the economy, the population, the territory, and the environment.
While the fifth pillar is sustainable development includes projects on strengthening frameworks governing the implementation of the SDGs, as well as promoting green growth, clean energy and quality infrastructure investments. Egypt recently revised its sustainable development strategy Vision 2030 to adapt to the most recent changes in the economy and ensure better alignment with the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and the African Union’s Agenda 2063.
All pillars will have a strong focus on gender equality and the inclusion of women and young people in the economy and society, as well as on supporting the formalisation of SMEs. Currently, informality accounts for up to 40% of GDP and unemployment rates for youth and women are among the highest in the MENA region, at 30% and 22% respectively.
The Programme will also support the regional work of the OECD in the MENA region such as the MENA-OECD Initiative on Governance and Competitiveness for Development. As a key partner in this Initiative, Egypt can help disseminate and bring policy perspectives to and from the MENA region.
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi's visit to France
President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi visited on 27/11/2014 France. President Sisi met members of the Egyptian-French business council and the CEOs of major French companies at the headquarters of the Movement of the Enterprises of France. Sisi delivered a statement during the meeting in which he affirmed that France is considered one of the most important trade partners for Egypt. Sisi also underlined the need of boosting economic ties and increasing the volume of trade between Egypt and France. Sisi also pointed out to the measures taken by the government to improve the investment climate in Egypt, atop of which is the unified investment law. The President invited the French business community to take part in the international economic conference, which will be held in Egypt in March, 2015.
On 26/11/2014: President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi assured representatives of leading French travel companies that Egypt has exerted efforts to restore tourism movement to its previous rates. The President pledged to provide all guarantees for French tourists. The two sides discussed suggestions that could help remove all impediments of increasing tourism investments in Egypt. The French companies suggested easing the travel ban on some destinations in Egypt, especially Sinai's resort of Taba. They further underlined the importance of operating direct flights to tourist destinations in Egypt. A delegation of big French travel companies is expected to visit Egypt in February 2015 to show their interest in restoring French travel to Egypt.
The French Development Agency Office in Cairo
• The French Development Agency embarked on its activities in Egypt in 2006, and opened an office in Cairo in February 2007.
• The volume of the agency's activities increased from €100 million to €125 million within a very short period.
The agency contributes to the funding of a number of development projects, including:
• Combating environmental pollution resulting from the emissions of industrial facilities in Greater Cairo and Alexandria.
• Financing the irrigation grid rehabilitation project in the West Delta.
The following agreements were signed on the sidelines of the French Premier's visit to Egypt on December 23rd, 2008.
• The water supply and purification improvement project in four governorates in the North Delta.
• Supporting the small and medium institutions through a €30 million loan to provide credit lines via a number of commercial banks to offer soft loans to these institutions.
• The Board of Directors approbated the agency's contribution in the tender of the transport service between Cairo airport halls project after the airport's expansion in June 2008.
Egypt and the Union for the Mediterranean:
The First Summit of the Union for the Mediterranean was held on July 13th, 2008, in Paris, and was co-chaired by the Egyptian and French Presidents. The Summit was attended by 43 countries, in addition to a number of regional and international organizations, including the United Nations, the Arab League and the World Bank. The Summit announced the establishment of the Union, which is based on the principles and goals of Barcelona Process, and the achievements accomplished throughout 14 years. The Union aims at promoting cooperation between Mediterranean countries and EU member states, and focusing on the Mediterranean Sea being a connecting link between the neighboring countries in the same geographic region, with mutual interests and seeks to reinforce their positions in forming the world future. This framework is characterized by the application of new principles, the most significant of which are common property and equity among the Mediterranean countries in the management of the Euro-Mediterranean cooperation and giving it momentum at the political level, and implementing specific projects in a number of development fields prioritized in the South Mediterranean countries.
Cooperation Protocol in the field of Electric Networking
Agreement on Establishing the Egyptian French Presidential Businessmen Council
Exchanging Debt Agreement
Agreement on Establishing the French Development Agency Office
December 28th, 1995
Financial Cooperation Agreement The protocol was signed in December 1995 and includes soft loans and donations from the French Treasury. By virtue of this protocol Egypt received 500 million francs, 480 million in form of a soft loan and 20 million as a donation.
August 27th, 1992
Cooperation Protocol in the field of Electric Networking
February 2nd, 1992
Food Assistance Agreement
The second agreement on rescheduling Egypt's debts. The agreement included the remission of 50% of the current overall amount of Egyptian debts in three phases (remitting 15%, 15%, and 20% successively)
Cooperation Agreement on the Protection of Environment
July 2nd, 1990
Cooperation Protocol on Food Supply
June 20th, 1990
The first Agreement on Rescheduling debts was signed inCairo in September 1987 within the framework of Paris Club meetings, and stipulates rescheduling the due loans installments and interests.
Agreement on Avoiding Double Taxation
Touristic Cooperation Agreement
May 17th, 1979
Agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investments.