Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Senegal are rich. They have been shaped by shared interests in many areas. Regular political consultations and high-level meetings take place between the two countries. The countries’ willingness to engage in joint initiatives at multilateral level, in particular in the UN and the International Organisation of La Francophonie, lends another dimension to their relations.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Senegal
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Senegal maintain lively and diverse ties. Security and stability in the region are central to these relations. Intensifying trade is another key concern.
In a memorandum of understanding signed in 2015, annual political consultations were launched which incorporated the existing human rights dialogue. Switzerland and Senegal have signed agreements covering trade, air transport, investment protection and technical cooperation. The countries work well together on migration although relations in this area are not formalised.
Security and stability in the region are of key importance to Switzerland, which engages in especially productive multilateral cooperation with Senegal in the areas of water, peace and security and preventing violent extremism. The fight against impunity and cooperation within the International Criminal Court are also an important pillar of the two countries’ relations.
Switzerland is Senegal’s third most important export partner after France and Spain. The trade volume in 2016 amounted to CHF 302.5 million. Exports from Switzerland mainly comprised machinery and pharmaceutical and chemical products. Gold was Switzerland’s main import from Senegal. All of Senegal's industrially mined gold is refined in Switzerland. Switzerland is working in Senegal to improve human rights compliance in the extractive sector.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
In cooperation with the Canton of Vaud, the Swiss federal government is helping Senegal to introduce a dual vocational education and training system. Senegalese students also have the opportunity to take part in the MOOCs (massive open online courses) organised by the Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL). In 2016 4,000 students had signed up for these courses.
Researchers and artists from Senegal can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships from the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI). There are numerous ties between universities and research institutes in the two countries.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland opened a consulate in Dakar as long ago as 1928. At that time around 100 Swiss citizens were living in Senegal. Switzerland immediately recognized the new state when it gained independence from France in 1960. The following year, the two countries established diplomatic relations. From 1962 to 2010, Switzerland provided development assistance to Senegal.