Switzerland has maintained friendly relations with the Ivory Coast (Côte d'Ivoire) since it gained independence in 1960. Switzerland has made a significant contribution to the development of the food sector and state infrastructure, and is a major investor and provider of humanitarian aid.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Diplomatic relations focus on trade, cooperation in research, and humanitarian aid.
Switzerland and the Ivory Coast have concluded a number of bilateral agreements since 1962. They relate to trade, investment protection and double taxation, aviation, technical and scientific cooperation
Despite political and military crisis since the 2000s and the resulting noticeable drop in trade, economic relations with the Ivory Coast are intensive. Switzerland chiefly exports chemical products and machinery. In 2011, export volumes amounted to CHF 36.3 million. In the same year, goods worth CHF 90.5 million were imported, primarily fuel and agricultural produce.
After France and the UK, Switzerland is the third largest foreign investor in the country; around 35 Swiss companies are active in the Ivory Coast in the food, chemicals, cement and infrastructure sectors.
The “Chambre de Commerce Suisse en Côte d'Ivoire” was founded in 2010.
Cooperation in the domain of education
The "Centre Suisse de Recherche Scientifique" (CSRS) tropical research institute in Abidjan is an important research and educational institution. The CSRS celebrated its 60th birthday in 2011.
Scholars and artists from the Ivory Coast can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Peacebuilding and human security
In recent years Switzerland has supported several projects relating to the national peace and reconciliation process in the Ivory Coast. It placed experts at the disposal of the United Nations Operation in Côte d'Ivoire (ONUCI) to help establish and support the country's police force.
Development co-operation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland has been providing aid in the western part of the country, following the 2011 crisis and the civil war.
Under a 1994 bilateral debt agreement, as part of the celebrations marking the 700th anniversary of the Confederation, Switzerland wrote off some CHF 360 million – one of its largest bilateral debt cancellations ever. At the same time CHF 51 million flowed into concrete development projects in the country via a counterpart fund. The programme was completed in 2008.
Swiss nationals in the Ivory Coast
The number of Swiss nationals resident in the country rose to over 500 in the 1970s, including many businesspeople, hoteliers, international civil servants and missionaries. In 2015, 265 Swiss nationals lived in the Ivory Coast.
There are intensive cultural exchanges on a private basis.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland recognised the independence of the Ivory Coast on 7 August 1960. It established an embassy in Abidjan the following year, replacing the vice-consulate that had opened in 1952. Since 1962, the country's political stability and the growing economic opportunities led to the conclusion of several bilateral agreements on trade, investment protection and technical cooperation.
Between 1984 and 1990 five bilateral agreements on restructuring the country's debts were signed (CHF 360 million). In 1991 Switzerland provided the Ivory Coast with a mixed loan of CHF 34 million to renew five hydroelectric power plants.