Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Chile are good and steadily moving forward. The two countries also have a good working relationship at the multilateral level on the basis of shared values.
Bilateral relations Switzerland-Chile
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Political relations between Switzerland and Chile have become closer in recent years. Cooperation focuses on strengthening economic relations, scientific collaboration between Swiss and Chilean institutions, and joint efforts in the areas of climate change and water management. The two countries also cooperate in the area of energy with a view to increasing the proportion of renewable energies in the energy supply.
The two countries have bilateral agreements in the areas of trade, investment protection, double taxation, mutual legal assistance, air transport and social security.
In 2017, Switzerland imported goods worth CHF 483 million from Chile, comprising mainly precious stones and metals and agricultural products. Exports in the same period amounted to CHF 305 million, consisting mainly of pharmaceutical products, machinery and precision instruments. At the end of 2016, Swiss direct investment in Chile recorded a net outflow of CHF 2 billion, meaning the liabilities of Swiss parent companies to their Chilean subsidiaries or affiliates exceeded their financial claims. In 2017, Swiss companies employed some 19,000 people in Chile. A free trade agreement has been in force between EFTA and Chile since 2004.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers from Chile can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
A trainee exchange agreement enables young people from Chile to acquire additional professional experience and hone their language skills in Switzerland.
The Swiss Polar Institute, an EPFL research entity, conducted the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE) in March 2017 with Chile's support and is running a number of other research projects in Chilean waters.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Chile is part of the SDC's Andean programmes on climate change and sustainable management of water resources (Suizagua, MAPS – Mitigation Action Plans and Scenarios Programme). The programmes are managed from the Swiss embassy in Lima and concern several countries in the region. Chile had a budget of CHF 1 million for project implementation, covering the period from 2012 to 2017.
In addition, the SDC is actively engaged in the long-term protection of the mountain forests in Chile and other Andean states (ANFOR – Andean Forest and Climate Change). The project runs from 2012 to 2018 and has a budget of CHF 6.3 million.
Swiss nationals in Chile
According to statistics on the Swiss Abroad, there were 5,304 Swiss nationals living in Chile at the end of 2017. There has been a Swiss school in the capital Santiago since 1939. Today it has around 600 students and enjoys an excellent reputation.
History of bilateral relations
A descendent of Swiss immigrants, Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei was elected president of Chile in 1964, and his son (with the same name) also served as president from 1994 to 2000.
Switzerland first opened an honorary consulate in Valparaiso in 1851 and another in the capital Santiago in 1918. The latter was upgraded to a consulate general in 1923, a legation in 1944 and an embassy in 1957.
Chile was a popular destination for emigrants from Switzerland in the 19th century. Swiss merchants settled in the port city of Valparaiso, while farmers and artisans settled further south of the country.