Switzerland and Uruguay enjoy friendly political relations and cooperate closely in multilateral organisations. The two countries have close ties dating back to the 19th century, when large numbers of Swiss nationals emigrated to Uruguay.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Uruguay are very active at the multilateral level and pursue similar interests in a wide variety of areas, including the promotion of human rights and international humanitarian law as well as environmental issues.
Since July 2012, all consular services in connection with Uruguay have been handled by the regional consular centre in Buenos Aires.
Switzerland currently has agreements with Uruguay in the areas of investment protection, double taxation, social security and air transport.
In 2022 Switzerland imported CHF 37 million worth of goods from Uruguay, mainly agricultural products. Exports to Uruguay in the same year amounted to CHF 143.6 million, and were mainly composed of pharmaceutical products and watches.
At the end of 2021 direct investment from Switzerland in Uruguay amounted to just under CHF 2.4 billion, and Swiss companies employed 843 people in the country.
The Swiss-Uruguayan chamber of commerce, founded in 1944, seeks to promote economic exchange between the two countries and to create business opportunities.
The negotiations for the EFTA-Mercosur free trade agreement were in substance completed in August 2019.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers who are citizens of Uruguay can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships. Under a mandate conferred by SERI, the University of St Gallen is currently coordinating research cooperation initiatives between Switzerland and Latin America.
Some famous Uruguayan artists have Swiss roots. For example, José Belloni, Martino Perlasca and Juan José Morosoli come from families whose origins lie in Ticino.
The Swiss embassy in Montevideo supports efforts to preserve and disseminate the common cultural heritage through small-scale projects.
Swiss nationals in Uruguay
At the end of 2022 there were 1,018 Swiss citizens living in Uruguay.
History of bilateral relations
Founded in 1828, the Republic of Uruguay became a popular destination for Swiss migrants. In 1862 and 1863, farmers from the German-speaking part of Switzerland founded the 'Nueva Helvecia' community, bringing cheese-making and other agricultural innovations to Uruguay. Migrants from Ticino became successful architects, artists and sportspeople in Uruguay.
Switzerland posted a consul to Uruguay in 1859, then in 1947, it opened a diplomatic representation in Montevideo. The 150th anniversary of the founding of 'Nueva Helvecia' was celebrated with a series of events in April 2012 in the presence of official Swiss delegations.