Brazil is of strategic importance to Switzerland, the bilateral relations are close and multifaceted. Political exchange occurs on a regular basis and the economic relations between the two countries are intense.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Brazil
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Brazil is Switzerland's largest trading partner in Latin America and many Swiss companies have a base in the country. The Swiss and Brazilian governments concluded a strategic partnership in 2008, through which extensive cooperation takes place in different areas. Switzerland and Brazil have concluded agreements in the areas of science, mutual legal assistance and justice, exchange of information in tax matters, air traffic and social security.
In 2019, Switzerland imported goods worth nearly CHF 1.4 billion from Brazil, mainly precious metals and coffee. Swiss exports to Brazil amounted to CHF 2.5 billion and mainly comprised pharmaceuticals, chemicals and machinery. At the end of 2018, the volume of Swiss direct investment in Brazil stood at CHF 10.5 billion and Swiss companies employed over 62,200 people.
The negotiations for the EFTA-Mercosur free trade agreement were largely completed in August 2019.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Brazil is also an important partner for Switzerland in the field of education, research and innovation. A number of bilateral research projects and instruments exist. Swissnex opened an office in Rio de Janeiro in 2014, in 2017 it opened a second in São Paulo. The innovation platform of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) connects researchers, institutions and companies from both countries.
Researchers from Brazil may apply to 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 Brazil
At the end of 2019, there were almost 13,900 Swiss nationals living in Brazil, making it home to the second largest Swiss community in Latin America.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland and Brazil established relations as early as the 19th century, when Swiss traders discovered Brazil as an interesting export market. In 1819, the first Swiss consulate overseas was opened in Rio de Janeiro. From the foundation of the city Nova Friburgo in 1818 until the mid-twentieth century, Brazil was a favourite destination for many Swiss emigrants. In 1907, Switzerland opened a diplomatic representation in Rio de Janeiro. This was transferred to the new capital Brasilia in 1972. In addition to the embassy, Switzerland has two consulates general, several honorary consulates and a Swiss Business Hub in Brazil. Switzerland also supports the two Swiss schools in São Paulo and Curitiba.