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 area of climate change. The two countries also cooperate in the area of energy with the goal of increasing the percentage of renewable energies in the energy matrix. They also cooperate on the issue of civic participation in the planning and implementation of large public-private projects.
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 2015, Switzerland imported goods worth CHF 559 million, mainly precious stones and metals, agricultural products and paper products, and exported goods with a total value of CHF 256 million, consisting mainly of machinery, pharmaceutical products and optical and medical instruments. Swiss direct investments in Chile amounted to CHF 1.9 billion at the end of 2014, while Swiss firms in Chile employed 18,839 people. A Free Trade Agreement has been in force between EFTA and Chile since 2004.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Scholars and artists from Chile can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Chile together with Peru benefits from the SDC's Mitigation Action Plans and Scenarios Programme (MAPS) for the Andean region, focusing on climate change and the sustainable management of water resources, which is managed from Lima. The programme runs from 2012 to 2016, with a budget of CHF 1 million for Chile.
Swiss nationals in Chile
At the end of 2015, there were 5127 Swiss citizens living in Chile. In Santiago there is a Swiss school with about 600 students which has an excellent reputation.
History of bilateral relations
A descendent of Swiss immigrants, the Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei, was elected President in 1964 and a son of the same name also served in this office 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. The Swiss school in Chile has existed since 1939.
Chile was a popular destination for migrants from Switzerland in the 19th century. Swiss merchants settled in the port city of Valparaiso, while farmers and artisans moved further south.