Switzerland and Malaysia established diplomatic relations in 1963. The two countries enjoy good relations, particularly in trade. Swiss companies benefit from the favourable business environment in Malaysia.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Malaysia
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland has an embassy in Kuala Lumpur but consular matters are handled by the Swiss embassy in Bangkok (Thailand). Malaysia has an embassy in Bern, a consulate-general in Geneva and consulates in Basel and Zurich.
Switzerland and Malaysia have maintained diplomatic relations since 1963.
Malaysian nationals do not need visas to enter Switzerland. Singapore is the only other visa-exempt South East Asian country.
The European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Switzerland is a member, has been negotiating an economic partnership agreement with Malaysia since 2012.
Elsewhere, Switzerland collaborates with Malaysia within ASEAN (the Association of Southeast Asian Nations), which Switzerland joined as a sectoral dialogue partner in July 2016. Malaysia was one of the five founding members of ASEAN in 1967.
A good business environment and easy access to the Asia-Pacific market and its 630 million consumers makes Malaysia attractive for Swiss companies. Malaysia is Switzerland's fourth most important partner among the ASEAN member states, after Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. Apart from precious stones and metals, Switzerland mainly exports machinery to Malaysia, followed by pharmaceutical and chemical products. Electronic devices and machinery make up the bulk of Switzerland’s imports from Malaysia. Around 135 companies with Swiss ties employ over 20,000 people in Malaysia.
In November 2012, Malaysia and EFTA signed a memorandum setting out the negotiating framework for a free trade agreement. Negotiations started in March 2014.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Malaysia can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Because Malaysia is not a developing country, it is not a priority country for the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation or for the economic development cooperation carried out by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).
Swiss nationals in Malaysia
At the end of 2017, there were more than 800 Swiss nationals resident in Malaysia.
History of bilateral relations
Swiss trading companies set up operations in Malaysia as long ago as the 19th century. Switzerland recognised and established diplomatic relations with Malaysia in 1963 following the country's independence in 1957. The two countries have maintained good bilateral relations ever since.