Relations between Switzerland and Guatemala are good. The two countries collaborate in the areas of the economy, justice and security, cultural exchanges and science.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Guatemala
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Guatemala have agreements in several areas, including trade, air transport, and promotion and protection of investments. The Swiss embassy in San José handles consular matters and focuses its work on strengthening the justice system, combating impunity, defending human rights, dealing with the past, environmental protection and climate change, promoting the economy and cultural exchanges.
Trade between Switzerland and Guatemala is modest. In 2017, Switzerland imported goods from Guatemala amounting to CHF 49 million, mostly agricultural products, and exported goods to Guatemala worth CHF 28.7 million. Switzerland's main exports to Guatemala are machinery, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, and watches. The free trade agreement between EFTA and the Central American States (Costa Rica and Panama) came into force in 2014. Guatemala signed a protocol of accession to the agreement in 2015. The ratification process is under way.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers from Guatemala can apply for grants to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) together with the Universidad del Valle is conducting a project to promote knowledge transfer between modern and traditional Mayan medicine in relation to cancer treatment (MACOCC).
Peacebuilding and human security
In Guatemala, the FDFA is active in combating impunity, dealing with the past, peacebuilding, women’s rights, freedom of expression and the press, and defending ethnic diversity, and it has conducted or supported various education and training measures and organised exhibitions on these themes.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Central America is a priority region for Swiss development cooperation. In 2017, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) provided CHF 38.8 million for projects in Central America. The SDC focuses its activities mainly on Nicaragua and Honduras. However, projects with a regional approach also benefit Guatemala, for example prevention and management of natural disasters, to which the region is prone.
Switzerland regularly sponsors concerts, theatrical performances and exhibitions by Swiss and Guatemalan artists.
Swiss nationals in Guatemala
There were 1,165 Swiss citizens living in Guatemala at the end of 2017.
History of bilateral relations
Although Guatemala achieved independence in 1821, the state was not founded until 1839. Switzerland recognised the state immediately. A Swiss consulate has existed in Guatemala City since 1891 and an embassy was established in 1962. The two countries have maintained diplomatic relations since 1957.