Current relations between Switzerland and Venezuela are not very extensive. In March 2018, Switzerland imposed the same sanctions as the EU on Venezuela in view of human rights violations and the undermining of the rule of law and democratic institutions. Switzerland does however continue to provide humanitarian aid in Venezuela and in the subregion.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
The two countries have agreements in investment protection, double taxation and air transport, but bilateral trade has declined because of the crisis in Venezuela.
On 5 April 2019, Switzerland was officially mandated by the United States to represent US interests in Venezuela. However, the protecting power mandate must also be approved by Venezuela before it can come into effect.
In 2020 Switzerland imported mainly agricultural products worth CHF 2.3 million from Venezuela. Exports in the same period amounted to CHF 25 million, consisting mainly of pharmaceutical products, machinery and precision instruments.
In 2019 Swiss direct investment in Venezuela stood at CHF 2 billion and Swiss companies employed about 2,700 people in the country.
On 28 March 2018 the Federal Council decided to adopt all EU sanctions imposed on Venezuela. The measures include an embargo on arms and goods used for the purposes of surveillance and internal repression as well as asset freezes and travel sanctions affecting 55 individuals. These targeted sanctions have no repercussions for the Venezuelan population.
In view of the crisis in Venezuela, the SDC has been steadily expanding its humanitarian aid operations in the country since 2017.
Switzerland provides funding to both multilateral and bilateral partner organisations working to meet the most urgent needs of the Venezuelan population and migrants in the subregion. It also seconds experts from the Swiss Humanitarian Aid Unit (SHA) to selected multilateral partners.
Switzerland's engagement is consistent with the four humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and it takes a strictly needs-oriented approach in the provision of humanitarian assistance.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers who are citizens of Venezuela 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.
Swiss nationals in Venezuela
At the end of 2020, there were 921 Swiss nationals living in Venezuela.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland opened an honorary consulate in the capital Caracas in 1909. In 1939 it opened a legation, which was upgraded to a diplomatic representation (embassy) in 1961. The Swiss-Venezuelan Chamber of Commerce was founded in 1979.