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Canada-Switzerland Relations

Canada and Switzerland enjoy excellent bilateral relations and have much in common, including federalism, plurilingualism and membership in La Francophonie, the United Nations, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe and the Forum of Federations. Canada and Switzerland support the principles of multilateral co-operation and humanitarian assistance.

Canada and Switzerland work closely together within the Human Security Network, the Middle-East Refugee Coordination Forum and the Cultural Diversity Network as well as on a range of humanitarian efforts worldwide.         

Prime Minister Harper made a bilateral visit to Berne immediately before the Francophonie Summit in Montreux in October 2010 and has attended the World Economic Forum held in Davos in 2010 and 2012.

Canada and Switzerland are party to a number of bilateral treaties and agreements, including: Sharing of Forfeited or Confiscated Assets Agreement (2005); Trade and Economic Co-operation Arrangement (1997); Avoidance of Double Taxation Agreement (1998 and updated in 2011); Transfer of Dangerous Nuclear Materials Agreement (1995); Social Security Convention (1995); Mutual Assistance in Criminal Matters Treaty (1995).
In 2009 a Free Trade Agreement with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Switzerland is one of four members, came into force. It confers a distinct competitive advantage to Canadian businesses and provides a strategic platform for Canadians to expand commercial ties throughout Europe. Two-way merchandise goods trade with the EFTA countries was valued at $11.6 billion in 2011.

Switzerland's economy is highly sophisticated, stable and very open to global trade opportunities. A country with virtually no natural resources, it imports raw or semi-manufactured materials for processing and exports high-value-added products. Know-how is key driver of the economy. Canada and Switzerland enjoy a strong and diverse commercial relationship that covers the full spectrum of trade, investment and innovation, with a strong focus on the latter two areas.

Switzerland was Canada’s 17th largest merchandise trading partner with two-way trade totalling $4.3 billion in 2011. Main Canadian merchandise exports ($1.1 billion in 2011) consisted of precious stones and metals (mainly gold), pharmaceutical products and machinery. Swiss exports to Canada include organic chemicals, pharmaceuticals, optical and medical instruments, machinery, clocks and watches, precious stones and metals.
In 2007, Canada and Switzerland signed a Memorandum of Understanding to facilitate and increase youth mobility by creating new opportunities for young Canadians and Swiss (aged 18 to 35) to gain international work experience to complement their studies or within their study curriculum. Canada is Switzerland's most important partner in terms of annual teacher exchanges.

More than 39,000 Swiss citizens live in Canada today, 28,000 of whom also hold Canadian citizenship; they make up the fifth-largest Swiss community abroad. There are 9,000-10,000 Canadians living in Switzerland, many of whom hold Swiss citizenship.  Canada is on the top five list of most important tourism destination for Swiss visitors; in 2011, 107,000 Swiss visited Canada. That same year 143,000 Canadians travelled to Switzerland.

Switzerland attracts many Canadian performers including well known artists Céline Dion, Diana Krall, Justin Bieber, Michael Bublé, Nikki Yanovsky, Cirque du Soleil, Bryan Adams, Arcade Fire and many others.

May 2012

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