Haiti and Switzerland maintain close relations, with a particular focus on civil society. Having French as a common language is an important factor in this relationship. Switzerland has stepped up its humanitarian involvement in Haiti since the 2010 earthquake.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Haiti
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
The Swiss representation in Port-au-Prince was transformed into an embassy in July 2011. Today its activities, which were initially focused on international cooperation programmes and projects, encompass humanitarian aid, long-term development cooperation, human security and those taking place in the context of the community of French-speaking countries.
A large number of Swiss non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are active in Haiti, some 20 of which have joined forces in the "Haiti en Suisse" platform.
The two countries signed a framework agreement on technical cooperation and humanitarian aid in July 2014.
Trade between the two countries is modest. In 2016, imports from Haiti to Switzerland amounted to some CHF 3.92 million. The fragrance and flavours manufacturers Givaudan and Firmenich are major buyers of essential oils for the perfume industry. Firmenich and the SDC are currently carrying out a pilot project in this sector in the form of a public-private partnership (PPP). Exports from Switzerland to Haiti amounted to some CHF 2.71 million in 2016.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Haiti can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland has been supporting development projects in Haiti since the end of the 1990s. Switzerland has stepped up its humanitarian activities in the country since the devastating earthquake in 2010. Its commitment in Haiti is oriented to the long-term and its current cooperation strategy has become more strongly focused on longer-term development cooperation.
A framework agreement on the bilateral programme, which was signed in July 2014, places cooperation between the two countries on a stable basis.
Switzerland focuses its activities on the rule of law and good governance, the rural economy and food security, as well as reconstruction and reducing the risks of natural disasters. In addition, it is active in ensuring better coordination between funding agencies with the aim of raising the efficiency of international programmes. Switzerland's bilateral development cooperation and humanitarian aid in Haiti has an annual budget of CHF 20 million.
In addition, Switzerland makes contributions to multilateral organisations active in Haiti, such as the Inter-American Development Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the United Nations World Food Programme and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The SDC's bilateral development cooperation has been supporting rural development projects to improve access to drinking water and sanitation facilities since 1996, and a project on the protection of biodiversity since 2004.
The SDC's Humanitarian Aid opened a cooperation office in Port-au-Prince in 2005 with the aim of managing its own projects and supporting the work of NGOs financed by Switzerland. It stepped up its activities massively after the hurricanes in the summer of 2008 and the earthquake on 12 January 2010.
In July 2011, the cooperation office was incorporated into the Swiss embassy in Port-au-Prince. Since 2013, Haiti has been a priority country for Swiss development cooperation as part of its engagement in fragile contexts.
In addition, the SDC has made the rebuilding of school infrastructure and the reduction of natural risks the main priorities of its activities in Haiti within the framework of its cooperation strategy for the 2014–17 period.
Swiss nationals in Haiti
In 2016, 157 Swiss nationals were living in Haiti and 472 Haitian nationals were living in Switzerland.
Among various other activities Switzerland contributes to financing the international jazz festival in Port-au-Prince.
History of bilateral relations
In 1804, Haiti, which was then a French colony, declared its independence. Switzerland recognised the new state immediately. After a period during which Haiti was occupied by US troops, Switzerland opened an honorary consulate in 1935, which became a consulate in 1959, and a consulate general in 2006, which was upgraded to an embassy in 2007.
In June 2011, the consular services of the representation in Port-au-Prince were transferred to the regional consular centre in Santo Domingo.
Switzerland represented Haitian interests in several countries during the Second World War and in Cuba from 1964 to 1967.