Switzerland and Myanmar established diplomatic relations in 1957. In October 2012, Switzerland opened one of its biggest embassies in the world in Yangon and launched a Swiss Cooperation Strategy Myanmar 2013-2017 (2018). Development, political and trade relations between the two countries have since begun to intensify. In 2017, Switzerland and Myanmar celebrated 60 years of diplomatic relations.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Myanmar
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
With the opening of its Embassy in 2012, Switzerland has strengthened its bilateral relations with Myanmar. The Regional Consular Centre in Bangkok (Thailand) handles all consular matters.
Switzerland supports the ongoing transition and peace process as well as Myanmar’s socio-economic development with its country-specific cooperation strategy. Since 2012, political consultations between both countries have taken place on a regular basis. Equally, a number of high-level meetings are convened regularly. In September 2014, President U Thein Sein was the country’s first head of state to pay an official visit to Switzerland. In 2017, the two countries celebrated 60 years of diplomatic relations.
Switzerland also cooperates with Myanmar within the framework of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) of which Switzerland has been a sectoral dialogue partner since July 2016.
Economic and financial relations
In May 2012, Switzerland lifted most of the sanctions that had been imposed for human rights violations under the military regime. The embargo on arms and instruments of repression remains however in place.
Trade with Myanmar is at a low level, but is growing. Swiss exports in 2017 totaled 25 million CHF, comprising mainly pharmaceutical products and machinery. Imports from Myanmar during the same period amounted to 67 million CHF, mostly textiles as well as gem stones and precious metals.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Myanmar can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Swiss cooperation in Myanmar
The Swiss Development Cooperation Agency’s Humanitarian Aid Department has been active in Myanmar since 1994. Since 2012, its work has been complemented by a development cooperation program, summed up in the “Swiss Cooperation Programme in Myanmar 2019-2023”. It focuses its intervention on the following areas:
- Peace, Statebuilding and Protection
- Skills and Market Development
Transversal themes are gender equality, good governance as well as disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation.
Swiss nationals in Myanmar
At the end of 2017, there were 137 Swiss nationals living in Myanmar.
History of bilateral relations
Myanmar (Burma), composed of various kingdoms from the 11th century on, was under British rule from 1824 to 1948. Immediately after gaining its independence, it was recognized as a state by Switzerland. Diplomatic relations were established in 1956. An honorary consulate was located in the capital city Rangoon (now Yangon) from 1957 to 1965. In 2012, Switzerland opened an embassy in Yangon in response to Myanmar's democratic transition and its opening up to the world