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Switzerland provides effective support where needed to help Swiss companies with their international activities via the instruments of commercial diplomacy and export promotion.

As a trade-oriented, medium-sized economy, Switzerland is reliant on the open markets, legal certainty and predictability of a rules-based global economic system. In addition to the multilateral system, Switzerland concludes bilateral agreements – including free trade agreements, bilateral investment promotion and protection treaties and double taxation agreements – to enhance its access to foreign markets.

Switzerland's representations abroad are involved in negotiating and implementing these agreements. They can also advise and support individual Swiss companies in the context of export promotion and consular protection.

Free trade agreements

Free trade agreements (FTAs) are essentially intended to facilitate trade by reducing or eliminating trade barriers between two or more countries. Minimising customs tariffs is a central element of FTAs. Many of them also govern services, investments and public procurement and contain provisions on sustainability.

SECO maintains an up-to-date list of countries with which Switzerland has signed an FTA.

List of free trade agreements

Bilateral investment promotion and protection treaties

Bilateral investment promotion and protection treaties (BITs) promote investment by ensuring a certain degree of protection against non-commercial risks. These include state discrimination against investors from a partner country in favour of domestic investors, unlawful expropriation and unjustified impairment of payment and capital flows. 

To date, Switzerland has signed over 120 BITs with countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe. SECO maintains an up-to-date list of Switzerland's BITs with other countries.

List of bilateral investment promotion and protection treaties

Double taxation agreements

Double taxation agreements (DTAs) prevent natural persons and legal entities from being taxed twice by dividing taxation rights in respect of the various types of income and assets between the signatory states. They are thus vital to the promotion of international economic activity.

Switzerland currently has DTAs with over 100 countries and continues expanding its treaty network. The Federal Tax Administration maintains a data base with state-related tax information.

International tax law by country

Export promotion

Switzerland supports Swiss companies in developing their international business through the federally mandated export promoter Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) as well as through its representations abroad.

S-GE's services are geared to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Its ExportHelp team is the first point of contact for administrative export-related issues of all kinds, but companies can also contact one of S-GE's country advisers directly.

The FDFA operates a network of Swiss Business Hubs in selected focus countries together with S-GE. These are integrated into embassies and general consulates and offer a wide range of services, including in-depth market analysis, business partner searches in target markets, and support for product approval. 

S-GE – Offices around the world

Even in countries without a Swiss Business Hub, Swiss embassies and general consulates offer a selection of basic services comprising information, advice, referral, support for events and delegations, and consular protection. For more information on basic services, please see the tab «Services – Trade promotion for companies».

Promotion of Switzerland as a business location

On behalf of the federal government, Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) informs potential foreign investors about Switzerland's specific strengths and operating conditions for business.

The Swiss Business Hubs are the first point of contact for foreign investors. Targeted communication is addressed to promising companies in industries such as robotics, artificial intelligence, advanced manufacturing, personalised health, and blockchain. 

Foreign investors in countries without a Swiss Business Hub can contact S-GE in Switzerland directly.

S-GE – Switzerland as a business location

Team Switzerland

The Swiss Embassy is part of Team Switzerland, fostering local networking and collaborative efforts between partners working to further the interests of Swiss businesses. These partners include the following:

Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE)

S-GE is the export promoter mandated by the federal government with its head office in Zurich and offices in Lausanne and Lugano. It is also the point of contact in Switzerland for SMEs that wish to avail themselves of the services offered by the Swiss Business Hubs.

Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE)

Swiss Export Risk Insurance (SERV)

SERV insures political and default risks involved in exporting goods and services. This provides cover for Swiss exporters and helps companies obtain low-interest loans.

Swiss Export Risk Insurance (SERV)

Swiss chambers of commerce

Swiss chambers of commerce around the world connect and represent the interests of Swiss companies, their local representatives, and other business people involved in bilateral trade. Some chambers of commerce also provide information and advisory services.

Presence Switzerland (PRS)

PRS is responsible for promoting Switzerland's image abroad, and implements the Federal Council's strategy on communication abroad. It organises Switzerland's participation in selected major events and runs targeted communication projects working together with the Swiss representations.

Presence Switzerland (PRS)

Switzerland Tourism (ST)

ST is mandated by the federal government to cultivate demand for Switzerland as a holiday, travel and congress destination at home and abroad.

Switzerland Tourism ST (de, fr)

Swissnex

Swissnex connects Switzerland and the world in education, research and innovation. It promotes the international exchange of knowledge, ideas and talent, which strengthens Switzerland's profile as a world-leading hotspot of innovation.

Swissnex

Innosuisse

Innosuisse is the Swiss agency for innovation. It funds science-based innovation in the interests of Swiss industry and society via various programmes aimed at helping start-ups and SMEs establish themselves and grow. Its main instruments are joint innovation projects together with research partners and coaching for start-ups.

Innosuisse

Last update 26.01.2022

Contact

FDFA/PSD, Economic Affairs Section

Bundesgasse 28
3003 Bern

Phone

+41 (0)58 461 19 73