Political relations are friendly and the two countries work closely together in multilateral organisations. Close historical links dating back to the large migratory movements of Swiss nationals to Uruguay in the 19th century continue to bind Switzerland and Uruguay to this day.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Uruguay
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Political relations are friendly. The two countries are like-minded partners in many areas of multilateral cooperation and notably the promotion of human rights, international humanitarian law and on environmental issues.
Since 2012 all consular tasks are treated by the Regional Consular Centre in Buenos Aires.
Switzerland currently has agreements with Uruguay in the areas of investment protection, double taxation, social insurance and air transport.
In 2010, the then economic and finance minister of Uruguay, Fernando Lorenzo, visited Switzerland and signed the revised double taxation agreement with former Federal Councillor Hans-Rudolf Merz. In 2011, the former Uruguayan foreign minister Luis Almagro, visited Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann and, in 2013, he visited Federal Councillor Didier Burkhalter. On the latter occasion, an agreement on social insurance was signed.
In 2013, Switzerland imported goods to the value of CHF 37 million from Uruguay, mainly agricultural products. Exports in the same period amounted to CHF 260 million, consisting mainly of pharmaceutical products and precision instruments.
The total volume of Swiss direct investments was CHF 2.4 billion at the end of 2012. Swiss firms employ around 1,600.
Cooperation in the domain of education
Researchers and artists from Uruguay can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI).
Swiss in Uruguay
At the end of 2013, there were 1,040 Swiss citizens living in Uruguay.
History of bilateral relations
Founded in 1828, the Republic of Uruguay became a popular destination for Swiss migrants. German-Swiss farmers founded the “Nueva Helvecia” community in 1862–1863, introducing cheese-making and other agricultural innovations. Migrants from Ticino were successful as master builders, artists and also as footballers. Today Uruguay is still known as the “Switzerland of America”.
Switzerland appointed a Consul in Uruguay as early as 1859. Rifle clubs, choirs and similar associations enabling Swiss migrants to maintain their traditions were established in the cities of Montevideo, Paysandú and Minas. There has been a Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Uruguay since 1944. In 1947, the Confederation opened a diplomatic mission in the capital. The 150th anniversary of the founding of Nueva Helvecia was celebrated in April 2012 with an official Swiss delegation in attendance.