Bilateral relations Switzerland–United States of America

The USA is a major partner for Switzerland in all respects. Relations between Switzerland and the United States of America are extremely diverse and enjoy a rich tradition. The number of Americans with Swiss origin is estimated to be around one million. The United States is the second largest export market for Switzerland and an important hub for education and research.

Key aspects of diplomatic relations

In 2006 both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding which intensified bilateral relations and established regular high-level political dialogue as well as regular meetings of experts.

Switzerland and the United States of America maintain active contact at parliamentary level through two friendship associations of parliamentarians (in Switzerland: the “Swiss Parliamentary Association Switzerland-USA”; in the U.S.: "Friends of Switzerland Caucus".

Switzerland has been representing US interests in Cuba since 1961, and since 1991 the interests of Cuba in the USA. Since 1980 Switzerland has also represented US interests in Iran.

Economic cooperation

In 2011, Switzerland exported goods valued at CHF 1.3 billion to the USA, and the country is by some distance the most important destination for Swiss direct investment abroad (2010: CHF 177.1 billion). Seen from an American perspective, in 2010 Switzerland was the largest foreign direct investor in the USA with Swiss capital exports for the year amounting to CHF 23.4 billion. The USA was the third most important source of foreign direct investment in Switzerland In 2010 with capital holdings of CHF 79.2 billion.

The dynamism of the American market attracts Swiss companies, and more than 550 Swiss companies have established themselves in the US, employing approximately 400,000 people.

A Joint Economic Commission and the Trade and Investment Promotion Forum help to strengthen and promote trade relations between the two countries.

Cooperation in the domains of education, science and culture

The United States of America is a top-priority partner in the fields of tertiary education, science, and cultural affairs. Thanks to its leading research and development infrastructure, the US also has a significant influence on the field of technology in Switzerland. The activities of Swissnex, which operates two Swiss Knowledge Network Outposts in Boston and San Francisco, testify to the intensive cooperation in this sector. Cooperation in the area of education and research was further strengthened by the signing of the Swiss-US bilateral agreement on scientific and technological cooperation in 2009.

Scholars and artists from the USA can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.Thanks to what are known as trainee agreements young American professionals have the possibility live and work in Switzerland to broaden their professional and language skills.

Swiss nationals in the USA

About 10% of the total of the Swiss Abroad live in the United States. Between 1700 and 2009, about 460,000 Swiss citizens emigrated to the US; in 2012, 76,330 Swiss citizens were resident in the USA.

History of bilateral relations

Since the 19th century shared values such as democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights have provided the basis for a relationship of friendship between Switzerland and the USA. In 1822, Switzerland opened its first consulates in Washington and in New York, and 60 years later, in 1882, the opening of the Swiss Embassy in Washington marked Switzerland’s first embassy outside Europe.