Relations between Switzerland and Guatemala are good. The two countries collaborate in the areas of the economy, justice and security, cultural exchanges and science.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Guatemala have agreements in several areas, including trade, air transport, and promotion and protection of investments. The Swiss embassy in San José handles consular matters and focuses its work on strengthening the justice system, combating impunity, defending human rights, dealing with the past, environmental protection and climate change, promoting the economy and cultural exchanges.
Trade between Guatemala and Switzerland is modest. In 2019, Switzerland imported goods – primarily agricultural products – worth nearly CHF 48 million from Guatemala. Exports to Guatemala, including machinery, chemicals, pharmaceutical products and watches, amounted to around CHF 29 million. The free trade agreement between EFTA and the Central American States (Costa Rica and Panama) came into force in 2014. The Protocol on the Accession of Guatemala was signed in 2015. In February 2020, the Guatemalan congress approved the FTA Accession Act, which must now be ratified by the executive to come into effect.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers from Guatemala can apply for grants to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) and for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Peacebuilding and human security
The FDFA is committed to fighting impunity and corruption in Guatemala. Switzerland therefore supported the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) from 2007 until its mandate expired in September 2019. Switzerland also supports Guatemala's reconciliation process and promotes peace, women's rights, freedom of expression, press freedom and ethnic diversity. The FDFA has supported and implemented a range of training initiatives and exhibitions focusing on these issues.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Central America is a priority region for Swiss development cooperation. In 2018, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) provided about CHF 40 million for projects in Central America. The SDC focuses its activities mainly on Nicaragua and Honduras. However, projects with a regional approach also benefit Guatemala, for example prevention and management of natural disasters, to which the region is prone.
Switzerland regularly sponsors concerts, theatrical performances and exhibitions by Swiss and Guatemalan artists.
Swiss nationals in Guatemala
At the end of 2019, there were 1,112 Swiss nationals living in Guatemala.
History of bilateral relations
Although Guatemala achieved independence in 1821, the state was not founded until 1839. Switzerland recognised the state immediately. A Swiss consulate has existed in Guatemala City since 1891 and an embassy was established in 1962. The two countries have maintained diplomatic relations since 1957.