Bilateral relations

Relations

Finland is represented in Cairo by Ambassador Laura Kansikas-Debraise from 1 February 2017 onwards. Finland's relations with Egypt are good and well-functioning. Egypt is significant for Finland due to its demographic and geographical scale, and its location. Despite Egypt’s political instability in the recent years, Finland’s commercial relations with Egypt have remained at a high level. Finland participates in the joint action of the EU Member States and the EU External Action Service in Cairo.

Development cooperation

Egypt developed into a lower middle-income country due to the economic growth of the 1990s. Therefore, in 2001, Finland made a decision to withdraw from traditional grant based development aid by 2007 and to move towards a more diverse partnership with Egypt.

Finland’s development cooperation with Egypt is considered to be part of Finland’s regional development cooperation in the Middle East and North Africa.  The regional development cooperation funds are channeled through international organisations and financial institutions.

Finland’s development cooperation in the MENA region is focused on two impact areas: 1) inclusive and gender equal societies and 2) sustainable and inclusive economic growth. The strategy emphasizes improving the status of women in society by promoting women’s political and societal participation and economic empowerment. Finland also supports good migration management from a human rights perspective, and promotes the protection and well-being of migrants and refugees. Finland’s approach emphasizes the importance of regional integration, and cooperation between national stakeholders.

Regional development cooperation programs are complemented by the Institutional Development Cooperation Instrument (ICI), and support to local civil society (Local Cooperation Fund, LCF). ICI enables state institutions and agencies to participate in development cooperation. The projects aim at utilizing Finnish know-how in strengthening the expertise of the target country’s state actors such as ministries, institutions and universities. Activities are always based on local needs and initiative. The ICI projects between Egypt and Finland have focused on the development of water sector and the sustainable management of natural resources.

The purpose of the Local Cooperation Fund (LCF) is to support the development of civil society in Egypt. The fund can be used to support initiatives of local non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other non-profit institutions in Egypt. In recent years, the projects have focused on strengthening the political participation and economic empowerment of women.

Commercial-Economic Relations

Trade between Finland and Egypt

Egypt is one of Finland's most important trading partners in Africa and the Middle East. Finland's trade to Egypt has traditionally been in surplus. In 2017, Finland's exports to Egypt were at a record high at around 356 million Euros.

Finland has traditionally exported mostly raw materials (especially forest industry products) to Egypt, as well as some machinery and equipment. Finland imports foodstuffs (mainly vegetables and fruits), manufactured goods (textiles and metal products) and services from Egypt. Therefore, even though the trade balance is in surplus for Finland, for example the value of sawn timber exported to Egypt multiplies in value chains in the construction and furniture industries and in the retail sector, and thus increases the growth of the Egyptian economy.

The political instability that began in 2011 has also been reflected in trade statistics, with exports varying by almost 100 million Euros between 2010 and 2013. In 2013, Finland's exports to Egypt were 250 million Euros, but they rose to 356 million by 2017. Egypt's imports to Finland have so far remained below 30 million Euros.

There is a lot of potential for increasing trade. There is a long tradition of tourism from Finland to Egypt, but after the summer of 2013, tourist flows decreased significantly. In recent years, there has been growth in tourism, and in the winter of 2018-2019, Finnish tour operators have once again started to organize trips to the Red Sea region. In addition to tourism, there is growth potential in many trade sectors in Egypt. Finnish companies have excellent solutions to offer to Egypt in areas such as circular economy, renewable energy, information technology and health technology.

Bilateral Agreements

Visits

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paula Lehtomäki visited Egypt with an official delegation in 2004. Foreign Minister Erkki Tuomioja visited Egypt in 2004 and during the Finnish EU Presidency in 2006. In the same year, Minister of Environment Jan-Erik Enestam also visited Egypt while representing Finland at the EuroMed meeting of Environment Ministers.

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Paavo Väyrynen visited Egypt with a business delegation in February 2008. In addition to several bilateral ministerial meetings, Väyrynen represented Finland at the EuroMed meeting of Information Society Ministers.

President of the Republic Tarja Halonen and Dr. Arajärvi visited Egypt on 19–21.10.2009. The delegation also included Foreign Minister Alexander Stubb.

Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Kai Mykkänen visited Cairo with a business delegation in September 2016.

Foreign Minister Timo Soini visited Egypt in November 2018.

Prime Minister Juha Sipilä participated in the EU-Arab League Summit in Sharm El Sheikh in February 2019.

Other information

Statistics about Egypt vary depending on the source.