Relations between Switzerland and Bangladesh are continuously deepening and broadening. In the early years of Bangladesh’s independence, relations focused primarily on humanitarian aid and later expanded to include a broad set of development cooperation activities. While these domains remain important still today, current relations increasingly focus on political cooperation, trade and investment promotion, as well as exchanges in the areas of culture, research and development.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Bangladesh
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Bangladesh established diplomatic relations in 1972 and have been strengthening and broadening bilateral ties ever since. Since 2013, the two countries conduct biannual political consultations on the entire spectrum of bilateral relations, including on policy, trade and human rights.
The bilateral trade volume has more than tripled since 2010, with still a lot of potential for further growth. Trade in 2021 crossed the symbolic CHF 1 billion mark for the first time, with exports to Bangladesh accounting for CHF 126 million and imports from Bangladesh amounting to CHF 924 million (source: Swiss Federal Customs Administration). The main Swiss export items are machineries for the textile sector, followed by pharmaceutical and chemical products. Textiles and ready-made garments represent more than 90% of Switzerland’s imports from Bangladesh.
Swiss investments in Bangladesh are mainly concentrated in the following sectors: chemicals, pharmaceuticals, construction, technical services and fast moving consumer goods. Almost all major Swiss multinational companies are present in Bangladesh.
The Switzerland Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industry (SBCCI) was formed in August 2009. The chamber currently has around 40 members, including Swiss investors, Swiss companies doing business in Bangladesh, as well as local companies maintaining close business ties to Switzerland. The goal of SBCCI is to promote trade and investment between the two countries.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers and artists from Bangladesh can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships. Artistic exchange is also facilitated through the Swiss Arts Council.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland is a long-standing and committed development partner for Bangladesh. Development cooperation is rooted in solidarity, partnership and a common vision of prosperity and sustainable development. Ever since Bangladesh’s independence, Switzerland has been contributing to the country’s poverty alleviation and development efforts. The cooperation aims at improving living conditions of the poor and disadvantaged people through the promotion of income and economic development, more efficient local governance systems, safeguarding human rights and better protection of migrant workers and refugees. The programmes are guided by the UN Sustainable Development Goals, Switzerland's International Cooperation Strategy 2021–24 and Bangladesh’s national development priorities.
Swiss nationals in Bangladesh
As of 2021, 109 Swiss nationals (including 69 dual nationals) are living in Bangladesh.
History of bilateral relations
Since Bangladesh's independence in 1971 and the establishment of diplomatic relations with Switzerland in 1972, bilateral ties have been continuously broadening and deepening. Ever since signing a technical cooperation agreement with Bangladesh in 1976, the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has been working on site, establishing a cooperation office in the capital Dhaka 1981. Switzerland opened its Embassy in Dhaka in 2005 and a project office in Cox’s Bazar in 2020.