Switzerland and Uruguay enjoy friendly political relations and cooperate closely in multilateral organisations. The two countries have close ties dating back to the 19th century, when large numbers of Swiss nationals emigrated to Uruguay.
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Uruguay work closely together at the multilateral level on a wide variety of topics, including the promotion of human rights and international humanitarian law as well as environmental issues.
Since July 2012, consular matters are handled by the regional consular centre in Buenos Aires.
To date, Switzerland and Uruguay have concluded agreements on investment protection, double taxation, social insurance and air transport.
In 2018, Switzerland imported CHF 50 million worth of goods from Uruguay, mostly precious stones and metals, agricultural products and paper products. Exports to Uruguay in the same year amounted to CHF 170 million, and were mainly composed of pharmaceutical products, watches and machines.
At the end of 2017, direct investment from Switzerland in Uruguay stood at CHF 2.3 billion and Swiss companies employed about 1,300 people in the country.
The negotiations for an EFTA free trade agreement with Mercosur are well advanced.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers from Uruguay can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).
Swiss nationals in Uruguay
At the end of 2018, around 1,000 Swiss citizens were living in Uruguay.
History of bilateral relations
Founded in 1828, the Republic of Uruguay became a popular destination for Swiss emigrants. In 1862 and 1863, farmers from the German-speaking part of Switzerland founded the 'Nueva Helvecia' community, bringing cheese-making and other agricultural innovations to Uruguay. Migrants from Ticino achieved distinction in Uruguay as architects, artists and sports.
Switzerland appointed its first consul to Uruguay in 1859. In 1947, Switzerland opened a diplomatic representation in Montevideo. The 150th anniversary of the founding of 'Nueva Helvecia' was celebrated with a series of events in April 2012.