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Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Canada

Both in terms of bilateral trade and direct investments, Canada is Switzerland’s second most important economic partner in the Americas. In multilateral forums, the policies the two countries adopt tend to coincide, leading to mutually beneficial cooperation. As a member of the G8 and of the G20, Canada plays a major role in questions of interest to Switzerland, i.e. international finance and taxation issues.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

Switzerland and Canada share similar interests and values, they have in common federal structures and multilingual societies. They both have open and market oriented economies encouraging trade and investments. Their strong bilateral trade has been regulated since 2009 by a Free Trade Agreement concluded between EFTA (of which Switzerland is a member) and Canada. Political consultations between high ranking representatives of the respective foreign ministries take place on a regular basis. Furthermore, both countries are members of international organisations in which they often cooperate such as the United Nations and its affiliated organisations and agencies, the IMF, the World Bank, the WTO, the OSCE, the OECD and l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

Economic cooperation

Canada is Switzerland’s second most important economic partner in North America. Bilateral trade in 2012 amounted to CHF 3.2 bil. with a large surplus in favour of Switzerland. Moreover, Switzerland is the 5th largest foreign investor in Canada with a capital stock of CHF 31.8 bil. at the end of 2011. In terms of employment by Swiss firms, this translates into 57’000 jobs in Canada.

Cooperation in the field of education

The 1979 agreement on the promotion of youth mobility was updated in 2007 to simplify the conditions and allow young Swiss and Canadian citizens to acquire work experience and language knowledge in the two partner countries.

Swiss nationals in Canada

38‘959 Swiss nationals were registered as Canadian residents at the end of 2012. Approximately two thirds of them have dual citizenship.

Cultural exchange

Cultural exchanges are frequent and particularly intense in certain regions. The fact that Switzerland and Canada share a common language (i.e. French) obviously facilitates exchanges between the Canadian province of Québec and other French-speaking communities in Canada and the French-speaking cantons of Switzerland.

History of bilateral relations

Since the 17th century Canada has been a destination for Swiss emigration. The Swiss Confederation opened its first consulate in Canada (Montreal) in 1875 and established diplomatic relations with Canada in 1945. The year 2013 marks the centennial anniversary of official relations between Switzerland and Western Canada.