Known as the 'Switzerland of Central America' thanks to its political stability and the relative prosperity of its economy, Costa Rica has for many years enjoyed good diplomatic and trade relations with Switzerland.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Costa Rica
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Together with Costa Rica, Switzerland is a member of the Accountability, Coherence and Transparency (ACT) Group based at the UN headquarters in New York, which advocates shared values and ideas, including an initiative to reform the Security Council and its working methods. Before Switzerland joined the UN, it developed together with Costa Rica various initiatives aimed at enhancing international law, including the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention against Torture and initiatives related to small arms and human security.
Costa Rica is Switzerland's second largest trading partner in Central America. In 2019, Switzerland imported goods – primarily agricultural products – worth CHF 105 million from Costa Rica. It also exported CHF 197 million in goods to Costa Rica, mainly pharmaceutical products, optical and medical devices, and watches. At the end of 2018, Swiss direct investment in Costa Rica stood at nearly CHF 1.1 billion, and Swiss companies employed 2,353 people.
A free trade agreement between EFTA and the Central American States, including Costa Rica, came into force in 2014. An air transport agreement was also signed at the beginning of 2019.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers in Costa Rica can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
In February 2014, Costa Rica and CERN signed an agreement to facilitate scientific cooperation and access to grants for students and researchers.
The Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) is also funding an ETH Zurich project, which runs until 2023, to identify the requirements for establishing a dual vocational education and training system in Costa Rica.
Swiss nationals in Costa Rica
At the end of 2019 there were 1,645 Swiss nationals living in Costa Rica.
History of bilateral relations
An honorary consul was appointed by the Federal Council in 1912, and in 1957 the two countries initiated diplomatic relations, at which point Switzerland upgraded its representation to a consulate general. An embassy was opened in San José 10 years later. Costa Rica has maintained an embassy in Bern since 1981.