Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Chile are good and have become closer. The two countries cooperate successfully at the multilateral level on the basis of shared values.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Chile
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Political relations between Switzerland and Chile have become closer in recent years. The emphasis has been on strengthening economic relations, scientific cooperation between Swiss and Chilean institutions, and cooperation in the areas of climate change and water. The two countries also cooperate in the area of energy, with the goal of increasing the percentage of renewable energies in the energy supply. The Swiss Polar Institute, a research centre of the EPFL, carried out the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE) with support from Chile in March 2017, as well as other research projects in Chilean waters.
Switzerland and Chile have agreements in the areas of trade, the protection of investments, double taxation, mutual legal assistance, air transport and social security.
In 2016, Switzerland imported goods worth CHF 517 million from Chile, comprising mainly precious stones and metals, and agricultural products. Exports in the same period amounted to CHF 288 million, consisting mainly of pharmaceutical products, machinery and precision instruments. At the end of 2015, Swiss direct investment showed a net inflow of CHF 1.5 billion, which means that the liabilities of Swiss parent companies with respect to their Chilean affiliates exceed their claims. In 2015, Swiss companies employed approximately 20,000 people in Chile. A Free Trade Agreement has been in force between EFTA and Chile since 2004.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Chile can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
A trainee exchange agreement enables young people from Chile or Switzerland to acquire additional professional experience and hone their language skills in the other country.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Chile is part of the SDC's Andean programmes on climate change and sustainable management of water resources (Suizagua, Mitigation Action Plans and Scenarios Programme (MAPS). The programmes are managed from Lima and concern several countries in the region. The programmes run from 2012 to 2017, with the budget for Chile amounting to CHF 1 million.
In addition, the SDC is actively engaged in the long-term protection of the mountain forests in Chile and other Andean states (Andean Forest and Climate Change ANFOR). The project runs from 2012 to 2018 and has a budget of CHF 6.3 million.
Swiss nationals in Chile
According to the Statistics on the Swiss Abroad, 5,366 Swiss nationals were living in in Chile at the end of 2016. In the capital Santiago there has been a Swiss school since 1939. Today it has around 600 pupils and enjoys an excellent reputation.
History of bilateral relations
A descendent of Swiss immigrants, Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei was elected president in 1964, and his son (with the same name) also served as president from 1994 to 2000.
Switzerland opened an honorary consulate in Valparaiso in 1851 and another in the capital Santiago in 1918. The latter was upgraded in 1923 to a consulate general, in 1944 to a legation and in 1957 to an embassy.
Chile was a popular destination for emigrants from Switzerland in the 19th century. Swiss merchants settled in the port city of Valparaiso, while farmers and artisans settled further south.