Relations between Switzerland and Guatemala are good. The two countries work together in the following areas: economy, justice and security, culture exchanges and science.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
The Swiss Embassy focuses its efforts on strengthening the justice system, combating impunity, the protection of human rights, dealing with the past, environmental protection and climate change, economic promotion and cultural exchanges.
Trade between Switzerland and Guatemala is modest. In 2016, Switzerland imported CHF 45,04 million in goods, mostly agricultural products, and exported goods to Guatemala worth CHF 32,73 million. Switzerland's main exports to the country are machinery, chemicals, pharmaceutical products and watches. In 2014 the free trade agreement came into force between EFTA and the Central American States (Costa Rica and Panama). Guatemala signed the protocol of accession to the agreement in 2015.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Scholars and artists 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 (MACOCC) for the transfer of knowledge between modern medicine and traditional Maya medicine in relation to cancer treatment.
Peacebuilding and human security
In Guatemala, the FDFA is committed to combating impunity, dealing with the past, peacebuilding, women’s rights and freedom of expression, press freedom and ethnic diversity and has conducted or supported various measures at the level of education and with exhibitions.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Central America is a priority region for Swiss development cooperation. In 2016 the SDC invested CHF 38,8 million in projects in Central America. The SDC mainly concentrates its activities in Nicaragua and Honduras. However projects with a regional approach also benefit Guatemala, for example prevention and preparedness with regard to the natural disasters to which the region is prone.
Following tropical storm 12E, Switzerland provided some CHF 70,000 in humanitarian aid, channelled through Helvetas and Caritas.
Swiss nationals in Guatemala
There were 1,161 Swiss citizens living in Guatemala at the end of 2016.
Switzerland provides support on a regular basis for concerts, theatrical representations and exhibitions by Swiss and Guatemalan artists.
History of bilateral relations
Although Guatemala achieved independence in 1821, the state was not founded until 1839, being immediately recognised by Switzerland. 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.