Switzerland and Canada enjoy good, close relations. Canada is Switzerland's second largest partner in the Americas for bilateral trade and direct investments. In multilateral forums, the policies the two countries adopt regularly coincide, leading to mutually beneficial cooperation. As a member of the G7 and of the G20, Canada plays a major role in issues of interest to Switzerland, particularly international finance and taxation. As a NATO member and OSCE participating state, Canada is strongly committed to transatlantic relations and security in Europe.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Canada
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Canada share similar interests and values, and both have federal government structures and multilingual societies. Numerous bilateral agreements, arrangements and joint declarations in various areas (e.g. mutual legal assistance, double taxation, exchange of information, air transport, research and innovation) bear witness to the broad range of cooperation between the two countries.
They both have open and market-oriented economies encouraging trade and investment. Their strong bilateral trade has been regulated since 2009 by a free trade agreement concluded between Canada and EFTA.
Regular dialogue takes place in the fields of politics, economic affairs, the environment and human rights, and in the context of La Francophonie. Since June 2019, Switzerland has also represented Iran's diplomatic interests in Canada.
Canada is Switzerland's second-largest trading partner in the Americas. In 2022, Switzerland imported almost CHF 7.4 billion worth of goods from Canada, mainly vehicles, chemical and pharmaceutical products, and machinery. Exports to Canada amounted to approximately CHF 4.1 billion, comprised mainly of pharmaceutical products.
Switzerland is among the ten biggest foreign investors in Canada, with total invested capital amounting to CHF 33 billion at the end of 2021. In the same year, Swiss companies employed 31,860 people in Canada.
An EFTA-Canada free trade agreement has been in force since 2009.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
In 2018 Switzerland and Canada signed a joint declaration on education, research and innovation, which now provides a formal framework for the close scientific collaboration already under way.
Researchers with Canadian citizenship can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
There is also an exchange agreement for young professionals, who can obtain a work permit for up to 18 months.
In March 2022, the Swiss Canadian Cleantech Innovation Summit took place, with which Switzerland and Canada aim to intensify their economic and scientific cooperation in the field of clean technologies.
Peacebuilding and human security
Canada, like Switzerland, relies on multilateral initiatives to promote peace, security and human rights and regularly launches such initiatives to pursue its foreign policy interests. Equal opportunities for women, LGBTQI+ and ethnic and religious minorities is one of the main themes of Canadian domestic and foreign policy. Democracy and freedom of expression are further priorities of Canada. Canada is the initiator of the Media Freedom Coalition, of which Switzerland is also a member.
The long-standing cultural relations between the two countries are wide-ranging. Extensive cultural exchanges take place, especially between French-speaking Switzerland and Quebec. The fact that Switzerland and Canada share this common language facilitates exchanges between the two countries.
Swiss nationals in Canada
Canada is home to the fifth largest community of Swiss nationals abroad in the world, counting just over 41,000.
History of bilateral relations
Canada has been a destination for Swiss emigrants since the 17th century. Switzerland's first honorary consulates in Canada were established in Montreal (1875), Toronto (1906), Vancouver and Winnipeg (1913). The two countries established diplomatic relations in 1945.