Switzerland and Uzbekistan enjoy good relations, largely based on cooperation in international financial institutions and the SDC/SECO regional strategy for the 2017–20 period. Switzerland and Uzbekistan also maintain regular political dialogue. Uzbekistan is also an important partner in water diplomacy.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Uzbekistan
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Uzbekistan is a member of the Swiss voting constituencies in the World Bank and the Global Environment Fund (GEF). In April 2017, it also joined the Swiss voting constituency in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).
Switzerland's development cooperation programmes in Uzbekistan support water supply and vocational education and training projects and promote good governance and decentralisation.
Switzerland is also active in Central Asia in the field of water diplomacy. The 'Blue Peace Central Asia' initiative by Switzerland promotes regional cooperation on water among the five Central Asian countries and provides political and technical support for transboundary water management initiatives. A regional adviser based in Almaty (Kazakhstan) coordinates Switzerland's activities in the region.
Some 40 Swiss companies are active in Uzbekistan. The two biggest Swiss investors in the country are Rieter and Nestlé. The trade volume between Switzerland and Uzbekistan is modest, primarily consisting of gold exports from Uzbekistan to Switzerland, the only importer of Uzbek gold. The volume of the bilateral gold trade amounted to USD 2.7 billion in 2017. Switzerland primarily exports chemicals, machines, pharmaceutical products and watches to Uzbekistan.
The Uzbek-Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Joint Chamber of Commerce promote private-sector business exchanges.
Cooperation in the domain of education
Researchers from Uzbekistan can apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships to the State Secretariat for Education Research and Innovation (SERI).
Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars, SERI
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Swiss Cooperation Strategy Central Asia 2012–2015 (extended to 2016) groups together projects run by the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan are priority countries. Switzerland provides assistance to all Central Asian states in the area of water supply.
In Uzbekistan, in addition to water, Switzerland supports the development of infrastructure and sewage disposal in both urban and rural areas. Approximately 300,000 people benefit from these projects in the Ferghana Valley and Syrdarya Province.
Another priority of the programme is vocational training in the fields of water supply and sewage disposal. In addition, the SDC cooperation office in Tashkent monitors the regional water projects and those related to disaster risk reduction.
The Swiss embassy in Tashkent takes part in joint projects with other embassies and cultural institutions based in the city.
Swiss citizens in Uzbekistan
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, there were 6 Swiss citizens living in Uzbekistan at the end of 2017.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland recognised Uzbekistan's independence on 23 December 1991, after the break-up of the Soviet Union. In 1994, Switzerland opened an embassy in Tashkent. Since 2017 the Swiss embassy and the Swiss cooperation office have been merged. Uzbekistan is represented in Switzerland by its embassy in Berlin and maintains a mission to the international organisations in Geneva.
Central Asia and the history of the Silk Road were long a source of fascination to European travellers. One of the first Swiss women to travel to the region was the Genevan author and journalist Ella Maillart (1903–1997). Her book 'Des Monts céléstes aux sables rouges' was a bestseller in 1934 and was published later that year in English under the title 'Turkestan Solo'.