In terms of bilateral trade and direct investments, Canada is Switzerland’s second most important economic partner in the Americas. In multilateral forums, the policies the two countries adopt tend to coincide, leading to mutually beneficial cooperation. As a member of the G7 and of the G20, Canada plays a major role in questions of interest to Switzerland, particularly international finance and taxation issues.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Canada
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Canada share similar interests and values; they have similar federal systems of government and both are multilingual societies. They both have open and market-oriented economies encouraging trade and investments. Their strong bilateral trade has been regulated since 2009 by a Free Trade Agreement concluded between Canada and the EFTA.
Political consultations between high ranking representatives of the respective foreign ministries take place on a regular basis.
Canada is Switzerland's second-largest economic partner in the Americas. In 2018 Switzerland imported goods to the value of CHF 2 billion (mainly precious stones and metals), while exports to Canada in that year amounted to CHF 3.9 billion. Switzerland mainly exports pharmaceuticals to Canada.
Switzerland is among the ten biggest foreign investors in Canada, with total invested capital amounting to CHF 39 billion at the end of 2017. In the same year, Swiss companies in Canada employed more than 35,000 people.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
In 2018 Switzerland and Canada signed a joint declaration on training, research and innovation, which now provides a formal framework for the close scientific collaboration already under way.
Researchers in Canada can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
There is also an agreement for the exchange of young professionals, who can obtain a work permit for up to 18 months.
Cultural exchanges are frequent and particularly vibrant in certain regions. The fact that Switzerland and Canada share a common language (French) facilitates exchanges between the two countries.
Swiss nationals in Canada
40,000 Swiss nationals were registered as living in Canada at the end of 2018.
History of bilateral relations
Canada has been a destination for Swiss emigrants since the 17th century. The Swiss Confederation opened its first consulate in Canada (Montreal) in 1875 and established diplomatic relations with Canada in 1945. The year 2013 marked the centennial anniversary of bilateral relations between Switzerland and Western Canada.