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 G7 and of the G20, Canada plays a major role for Switzerland, particularly in international finance and taxation issues.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Canada
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.
Canada is Switzerland's second-largest economic partner in the Americas. In 2016 Switzerland imported goods to a value of CHF 1.095 billion (mainly precious stones and metals), while exports to Canada in that year amounted to CHF 3.473 billion. Switzerland exports mostly pharmaceutical products to Canada.
Switzerland is among the ten biggest foreign investors in Canada, with total invested capital amounting to CHF 41.5 billion at the end of 2015. In 2015, the number of jobs created by Swiss companies in Canada amounted to 34,180.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Scholars and artists from Canada can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for a Swiss Government Excellence Scholarship.
The 1979 agreement on the promotion of youth mobility was updated in 2007 to simplify the conditions and allow young people from Switzerland and Canada to acquire work experience and language knowledge in the two partner countries.
Cultural exchanges are frequent and particularly intense in certain regions. The fact that Switzerland and Canada share a common language (i.e. French) facilitates exchanges between the Canadian province of Quebec and other French-speaking communities in Canada and the French-speaking cantons of Switzerland.
Swiss nationals in Canada
40,280 Swiss nationals were registered as Canadian residents at the end of 2016.
History of bilateral relations
Canada has been a destination for Swiss emigrants since the 17th century. The Swiss Confederation opened its first consulate in Canada (Montreal) in 1875 and established diplomatic relations with Canada in 1945. The year 2013 marked the centennial anniversary of bilateral relations between Switzerland and Western Canada.