Relations between Switzerland and Kazakhstan are very good and are expected to develop further. Kazakhstan joined the Swiss voting constituency in the Bretton Woods institutions in September 2010. The country is an important partner in various bilateral and multilateral initiatives concerning water diplomacy. In recent years, cooperation has been stepped up in several sectors.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Kazakhstan
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Political consultations have been held regularly with Kazakhstan since 2005 and have included human rights issues since 2016. Kazakhstan belongs to the Swiss voting constituencies at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and at the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
With the 'Blue Peace Central Asia' initiative, Switzerland promotes regional water cooperation among the five Central Asian countries and supports various initiatives in transboundary water management. A consultant based in Almaty (Kazakhstan) coordinates the regional activities. Kazakhstan was also an important partner in the High Level Panel on Water and Peace. This process aims to raise the importance of water as a means of peaceful conflict resolution and prevention.
Of the five Central Asian republics (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan), Kazakhstan is Switzerland's most important trading partner. Economic relations between the two countries have increased, with significant potential for further growth. With total bilateral trade of almost USD 2.8 billion, Switzerland is Kazakhstan's fifth biggest trading partner. According to statistics from the National Bank of Kazakhstan, Switzerland is also the third biggest foreign investor (after the Netherlands and the United States). There are around 40 Swiss companies registered in Kazakhstan.
The joint economic commission has held regular meetings since 1999. Switzerland's main exports to Kazakhstan are chemicals, pharmaceuticals and precision instruments. Its main imports are crude oil and natural gas.
Switzerland is returning assets of USD 48 million to Kazakhstan via a World Bank trust fund as part of its efforts to prevent abuse of its financial centre. These funds will be used to benefit the population of Kazakhstan, as specified in an agreement signed between the SDC and the World Bank on 20 December 2012.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers from Kazakhstan can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships from the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI).
Swiss nationals in Kazakhstan
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, there were 37 Swiss nationals living in Kazakhstan at the end of 2019.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland recognised the independent Republic of Kazakhstan on 23 December 1991. The Swiss embassy in Moscow was initially responsible for political and diplomatic relations. In 1994 a consulate was opened in Almaty, the capital of Kazakhstan at the time, and this was upgraded to a consulate general in 1998.
Switzerland opened an embassy in the new capital of Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana) in March 2009. Following this, the consulate general in Almaty was converted to an honorary consulate.