Bilateral relations Switzerland–Canada

Both in terms of bilateral trade and direct investments, Canada is Switzerland’s second most important economic partner in the Americas. In multilateral forums, the policies the two countries adopt tend to coincide, leading to mutually beneficial cooperation. As a member of the G8 and of the G20, Canada plays a major role in questions of interest to Switzerland, i.e. international finance and taxation issues.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

Switzerland and Canada share similar interests and values, they have in common federal structures and multilingual societies. They both have open and market oriented economies encouraging trade and investments. Their strong bilateral trade has been regulated since 2009 by a Free Trade Agreement concluded between the European Free Trade Association (of which Switzerland is a member) and Canada.

Political consultations between high ranking representatives of the respective foreign ministries take place on a regular basis. Furthermore, both countries are members of international organisations in which they often cooperate such as the United Nations and its affiliated organisations and agencies, the IMF, the World Bank, the World Trade Organization, the  Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and l’Organisation internationale de la Francophonie.

Economic cooperation

Canada is Switzerland's second-largest economic partner in the Americas. In 2014 Switzerland imported goods to a value of CHF 669 million (mainly pharmaceuticals), while exports to Canada in that year amounted to CHF 3.328 billion. Switzerland exports mostly vehicles, machines, instruments, electronic equipment and metals to Canada. 

Switzerland is the fifth-largest foreign investor in Canada with a total volume of CHF 18.7 billion as at the end of 2013. In 2013, Swiss companies employed approximately 61,498 people in Canada.

Cooperation in education, research and innovation

The 1979 agreement on the promotion of youth mobility was updated in 2007 to simplify the conditions and allow young Swiss and Canadian citizens to acquire work experience and language knowledge in the two partner countries.

Programmes for trainees

Swiss nationals in Canada

39‘618 Swiss nationals were registered as Canadian residents at the end of 2014. Approximately two thirds of them have dual citizenship.

Cultural exchange

Cultural exchanges are frequent and particularly intense in certain regions. The fact that Switzerland and Canada share a common language (i.e. French) obviously facilitates exchanges between the Canadian province of Québec and other French-speaking communities in Canada and the French-speaking cantons of Switzerland.

History of bilateral relations

Since the 17th century Canada has been a destination for Swiss emigration. The Swiss Confederation opened its first consulate in Canada (Montreal) in 1875 and established diplomatic relations with Canada in 1945. The year 2013 marks the centennial anniversary of official relations between Switzerland and Western Canada.

Historical Dictionary of Switzerland: Canada (de, fr, it)