Bilateral relations Switzerland-Chile
Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Chile are good and have evolved over the years. The two countries also have a good working relationship at multilateral level based on their shared values.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Political relations between Switzerland and Chile have become closer in recent years. Cooperation focuses on trade expansion, scientific collaboration between Swiss and Chilean institutions, and joint efforts in the areas of climate change and water management. The two countries also cooperate on energy with a view to increasing the proportion of renewables in energy supply.
Switzerland and Chile have entered into a free trade agreement (EFTA-Chile FTA) and bilateral agreements on investment protection, double taxation, mutual legal assistance, air transport and social security.
In 2022 Switzerland imported goods worth over CHF 870 million, mainly precious stones and precious metals (especially gold). Exports in the same period amounted to around CHF 350 million, consisting mainly of pharmaceutical products, machinery and precision instruments. At the end of 2021, Swiss direct investments in Chile stood at over CHF 1.5 billion. In 2021, Swiss companies employed around 18,650 people in Chile.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers who are citizens of Chile can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Under a mandate conferred by SERI, the University of St Gallen is currently coordinating research cooperation initiatives between Switzerland and Latin America.
A trainee exchange agreement enables young people from Chile to acquire additional professional experience and hone their language skills in Switzerland.
The Swiss Polar Institute, an EPFL research entity, conducted the Antarctic Circumnavigation Expedition (ACE) in March 2017 and is running a number of other research projects supported by Chile.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
The global programmes undertaken by the SDC in the Andean region (climate change, protection of resources, water management) also include Chile. In order to capitalise on its knowledge base in Chile, Switzerland takes a South-South cooperation approach at regional level to such issues as urban air quality (CALAC+ project), sustainable forest management in the Andes (Bosques Andinos project) and private sector water management (Suizagua project).
Swiss Humanitarian Aid also assists Chile with disaster risk reduction and rapid responses to crises.
Swiss nationals in Chile
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, there were 5684 Swiss citizens living in Chile at the end of 2022. There has been a Swiss school in the capital Santiago since 1939. Today it has around 640 students and enjoys an excellent reputation.
History of bilateral relations
Christian Democrat Eduardo Frei, who is a descendant of Swiss immigrants, was elected President of Chile in 1964. His son, of the same name, was also President from 1994 to 2000. Today, an estimated 60,000 descendants of Swiss immigrants live in Chile.
Switzerland first opened an honorary consulate in Valparaiso in 1851 and another in the capital Santiago in 1918. The latter was upgraded to a consulate general in 1923, a legation in 1944 and an embassy in 1957.
Chile was a popular destination for emigrants from Switzerland in the 19th century. Swiss traders primarily settled in the port city of Valparaíso, while farmers and craftspeople headed to southern Chile.