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Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Uruguay

Political relations have been friendly, albeit not very intense. The two countries continue to have close ties, which go back to the 19th century when Uruguay was a popular destination for Swiss migrants.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

Political relations are friendly. The two countries are like-minded partners in many areas of multilateral cooperation and notably the promotion of human rights, international humanitarian law and on environmental issues.

Uruguay’s Minister of the Economy and Finance, Fernando Lorenzo, visited Switzerland in 2010, meeting with his then counterpart Federal Councillor Hans-Rudolf Merz, and signing a revised version of the double taxation agreement. In 2011, Uruguay’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Luis Almagro had a meeting in Switzerland with Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann.

Switzerland has agreements with Uruguay in the area of investment protection, double taxation and air transport.

Since 2012 all consular tasks are treated by the Regional Consular Centre in Buenos Aires.

Economic cooperation

In 2011, Switzerland imported goods worth CHF 38.2 from Uruguay, mainly agricultural and chemical products and stationery. Exports in the same period amounted to CHF 132.4 million, consisting mainly of chemical products, watches and agricultural products. The total amount of Swiss direct investments was CHF 482 million at the end of 2010. Swiss firms employ around 1100 persons.

Cooperation in the domain of education

Scholars and artists from Uruguay can apply to the State Secretariat for Education and Research (SER) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.

Swiss in Uruguay

At the beginning of 2012, there were 970 Swiss citizens living in Uruguay.

History of bilateral relations

Founded in 1828, the Republic of Uruguay became a popular destination for Swiss migrants. German-Swiss farmers founded the colony “Nueva Helvecia” in 1862–1863, introducing cheese-making and other agricultural innovations. Immigrants from Ticino were successful as skilled builders, artists and also as footballers. Today Uruguay is still known as the “Switzerland of America”.

Switzerland appointed a Consul in Uruguay as early as 1859. Rifle clubs, choirs and similar associations enabling the Swiss to maintain their traditions were established in the cities of Montevideo, Paysandú and Minas. There has been a Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Uruguay since 1944. In 1947, the Confederation opened a diplomatic mission in the capital. The 150th anniversary of the founding of Nueva Helvecia was celebrated in April 2012 with an official Swiss delegation in attendance.