The USA is a major partner for Switzerland in all respects. Relations between Switzerland and the United States of America are extremely diverse and enjoy a rich tradition. The number of Americans with Swiss origin is estimated to be around one million. The United States is the second largest export market for Switzerland and an important hub for education and research.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–United States of America
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
In 2006 both countries signed a Memorandum of Understanding which intensified bilateral relations and established regular high-level political dialogue as well as regular meetings of experts.
Switzerland and the United States maintain active contact at parliamentary level through two friendship associations of parliamentarians (in Switzerland: the Swiss Parliamentary Association Switzerland-USA; in the US: Friends of Switzerland Caucus.
Until August 2015, Switzerland represented US interests in Cuba (from 1961) and Cuban interests in the US (from 1991). Switzerland has been representing US interests in Iran since 1980.
In 2016, Switzerland exported goods worth CHF 36.4 billion to the United States. US imports to Switzerland amounted to CHF 24.1 billion. Trade is mainly in pharmaceutical products, precious stones and metals, and jewellery. The US is by far the most important destination for Swiss direct investment abroad which, in 2015, amounted to CHF 205 billion or 18.3% of all its direct investment abroad. For the United States, Switzerland is an important destination for American direct investors. With direct investments of USD 97.8 billion it is also the third most important country of origin of foreign direct investments in Switzerland.
The dynamism of the American market attracts Swiss companies, and around 500 Swiss companies with over 3500 branches have established themselves in the US, employing approximately 310,000 people in 2015.
A Joint Economic Commission and the Trade and Investment Promotion Forum help to strengthen and promote trade relations between the two countries.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
The United States of America is a top-priority partner in the fields of tertiary education, science, and cultural affairs. Thanks to its leading research and development infrastructure, the US also has a significant influence on the field of technology in Switzerland. The activities of Swissnex, which operates two Swiss Knowledge Network Outposts in Boston and San Francisco, testify to the intensive cooperation in this sector. Cooperation in the area of education and research was further strengthened by the signing of the Swiss-US bilateral agreement on scientific and technological cooperation in 2009.
Scholars and artists from the United States can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships. Thanks to what are known as trainee agreements, young American professionals have the possibility to live and work in Switzerland to broaden their professional and language skills.
Swiss nationals in the USA
More than 10% of the total of the Swiss abroad live in the United States. Between 1700 and 2015, about 460,000 Swiss citizens emigrated to the US; in 2016, 81,075 Swiss citizens were resident in the United States.
History of bilateral relations
Since the 19th century, shared values such as democracy, the rule of law, and respect for human rights have provided the basis for a relationship of friendship between Switzerland and the United States. In 1822, Switzerland opened its first consulates in Washington and in New York, and 60 years later, in 1882, the opening of the Swiss Embassy in Washington marked Switzerland’s first embassy outside Europe.