Press releases, 16.02.2022

Like Switzerland's interests, the background to the policy towards the countries of the Americas differs in each of the continent's regions. That is why the Federal Council has set various geographical priorities in this strategy, for each of which it has defined objectives and measures tailored to the specific situation. This strategy, adopted by the Federal Council at its meeting of 16 February 2022, seeks a coherent approach towards the countries of the Americas.

Switzerland enjoys very close political, economic and cultural relations with numerous countries of the Americas. Reflecting the great diversity across the entire American continent, the Federal Council has identified five geographical priorities on which Switzerland will focus its actions over the next four years. The Americas Strategy seeks to implement the four major thematic focus areas of the Foreign Policy Strategy 2020–23 (peace and security, prosperity, sustainability, and digitalisation) in relation to each of these priorities.

United States as main trading partner outside the European Union
The United States remains the dominant economic, military and political power in the international system. Relations between the United States and Switzerland are good and wide-ranging. The United States is Switzerland's second most important trading partner after the European Union. It is also an important hub for education and research, and a key partner in the technology sector. The Swissnex locations in Boston, New York and San Francisco and the agreement for scientific cooperation reflect the close cooperation between the two countries. Switzerland has been representing the United States' interests in Iran since 1980. This protecting power mandate and Switzerland's good offices as a host state for conferences and discussions between the United States and other countries have earned it a great deal of credibility. The Federal Council aims to further deepen bilateral relations with the United States through this strategy.

Pursuing cooperation with Canada in a variety of areas
Switzerland and Canada pursue the same objectives in many areas and have good, close relations. The Federal Council aims to deepen bilateral cooperation with Canada on the basis of this strategy. In the context of strengthening Swiss science diplomacy, Canada is an obvious partner of choice. Switzerland also exercises the protecting power mandate for Iran in Canada, which is a sign of confidence.

The 'jaguar economies': countries with considerable economic potential
The Federal Council has identified countries in Latin America and the Caribbean with considerable economic potential, which it refers to as the 'jaguar economies'. They are: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru, mainly democratic countries which have markets of significant size, comparatively sound governance by the rule of law and largely independent and functioning institutions.

These countries are also important partners for Switzerland in the major multilateral forums, especially when it comes to combating climate change and promoting international human rights law. At the same time, economic and trade relations with them carry potential for Swiss businesses, which already have a strong presence there. Switzerland has signed EFTA free trade agreements with a number of countries. Concluding new economic agreements and renewing existing ones, along with signing and implementing the agreement with the Mercosur states, is one of the objectives. Even so, the 'jaguar economies' also have – in some cases– deficits regarding good governance and the protection of human rights. Accordingly, Switzerland will continue to support Colombia in its civilian peacebuilding efforts and conduct bilateral human rights dialogues with Mexico and Brazil.

Brazil occupies a natural position of supremacy within the 'jaguar economies'. With a GDP of almost USD 1.5 trillion, Brazil is the largest national economy in the region and the ninth largest in the world. As its most important bilateral economic partner in Latin America, Brazil is a global priority country for Switzerland. It also tops the rankings of key partner countries in Latin America for Swiss researchers.

Bilateral development cooperation and regional organisations
Five countries (Bolivia, Cuba, Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua) make up another priority. As stated in the International Cooperation Strategy 2021−24, the SDC's bilateral development cooperation work in these countries is to be phased out by 2024. The Americas Strategy therefore paves the way for a responsible withdrawal. In this context, cooperation instruments such as humanitarian aid, global programmes, the promotion of peace and human rights, and economic cooperation will remain in use where fit for purpose. At the same time, cooperation with the private sector and in educational, health and environmental affairs is to be encouraged.

A range of regional organisations in which Switzerland is either a member or has observer status, such as the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the Organization of American States (OAS), form the final priority. Switzerland's presence in these organisations thus raises its foreign policy profile as a credible and capable partner.

Ensuring foreign policy coherence
The Americas Strategy is the fourth geographical follow-up strategy to the FPS 20−23, after MENA, Sub-Saharan Africa and China. It concerns all the departments and was drawn up with their involvement. Its approval will serve to further strengthen the coherence of Swiss foreign policy.

Further information:

Switzerland presents its Americas Strategy

Americas Strategy 2022-25(pdf, 3562kb)

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