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Canada and Switzerland enjoy close and multifaceted bilateral relations, based upon shared values, commercial interests, people-to-people ties, and a commitment to democracy and human rights. Our two countries cooperate closely within multilateral forums and enjoy a robust commercial relationship. Canada and Switzerland share French as an official language and both Canada and Switzerland are prosperous, plurilingual, and multi-ethnic societies, as well as federal states.
As the host of numerous United Nations (UN) agencies, the World Trade Organization (WTO), other multilateral organizations and events such as the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland frequently hosts representatives from all levels of Canadian government as well as Canadian business leaders. The year 2020 marked the 75th anniversary of Canada-Switzerland diplomatic relations.
In addition to its embassy in Ottawa, Switzerland has Consulates General in Montréal and Vancouver and Honorary Consuls in five provinces. Canada has an embassy in Bern, as well as a Permanent Mission to the WTO and UN (including a Consulate) in Geneva.
Canada hosts the fifth-largest Swiss diaspora abroad: more than 155,000 Canadians are of Swiss origin and approx. 40,000 Swiss citizens live in Canada. In the other direction, there are an estimated 17,000 to 20,000 Canadians in Switzerland, many of whom are dual nationals. Both countries exchange large numbers of tourists. It is estimated that approximately 275,000 Canadians travelled to Switzerland in 2019 (Swiss Tourism Federation), while approximately 125,500 Swiss citizens travelled to Canada in 2019 (Statistics Canada).
Academic relations and youth mobility
Canadian and Swiss universities have numerous agreements, reinforcing the quality of education, research and innovation in both countries. Every year, several hundred Swiss students and researchers go to Canada on academic exchanges, to collaborate on research projects or to pursue their academic studies in a Canadian institution.
In January 2018, the Canada-Switzerland Joint Statement concerning Science, Technology and Innovation was signed, which aims to promote co-operation between Canadian and Swiss institutions in these domains.
In 2007, Canada and Switzerland signed a memorandum of understanding to facilitate and increase youth mobility by creating new opportunities for young (aged 18 to 35) Canadians and Swiss to gain international work experience. Canada is the top non-European destination for young Swiss undertaking such programs.
Canada and Switzerland have bilateral agreements related to tax information exchange, double taxation, agriculture, air transport, sharing confiscated assets, mutual recognition of conformity assessments, nuclear co-operation, social security, extradition and mutual assistance in criminal investigations, and film and video relations.
Commercially, Canada and Switzerland enjoy a strong and diverse relationship that covers the full spectrum of trade, investment and innovation. In 2009, a free trade agreement with the European Free Trade Association, of which Switzerland is one of four members, came into force. In 2018, Canada and Switzerland signed a Joint Statement on Science, Technology and Innovation, aiming to promote co-operation between Canadian and Swiss institutions in these domains. Merchandise exports to Switzerland were $3.9 billion in 2022, up 21.6% from 2021. Imports from Switzerland were $7.8 billion in 2022, up 6.7% from 2021.
Overall Switzerland is Canada’s third most important source of foreign direct investment (FDI). In 2022, FDI stock from Switzerland, as the Ultimate Investing Country (UIC), was valued at Can$28.7 billion, down 1.5% from 2021. The direct investment by Switzerland accounted for 2.3% of the total direct investment in Canada.
Partnerships and organizations
Both countries support the principles of multilateral co-operation and humanitarian assistance and collaborate closely on a diverse range of priorities, such as promoting democracy, human rights and inclusion, and combatting climate change. Both of our countries have a great interest to continue to strengthen the rules-based international order, to promote media and press freedom and combat the negative effects of disinformation.
To develop effective responses to today’s most pressing global challenges, Canada and Switzerland work closely in multilateral fora, such as:
- La Francophonie
- International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)
- International Criminal Court (ICC)
- Multilateral Organization Performance Assessment Network (MOPAN)
- Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)
- Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE)
- The Pacific Alliance
- United Nations (UN)
- United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
- World Trade Organization (WTO)
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