Bilateral relations between Switzerland and Namibia are good and expected to grow closer in the future. The Namibian independence process from 1989–90 was the first occasion on which an (unarmed) Swiss military unit participated in a UN peacekeeping operation.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Namibia
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland has set out a strategy for sub-Saharan Africa for 2021–24.
High-level contacts between Switzerland and Namibia have tended to be sparse. Switzerland maintains friendly diplomatic relations with the Republic of Namibia through its representation in Pretoria.
Namibia is a member of the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and benefits from the free trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and SACU. Trade between the two countries is conducted, in part, through South Africa. According to Swiss customs statistics, imports into Switzerland originating in Namibia amounted to CHF 3.3 million in 2020, and consisted principally of agricultural products and raw materials. Exports amounted to CHF 3.6 million, for the most part in the form of machinery. Namibia's mineral resources have also attracted certain large commodity groups headquartered in Switzerland.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers who are citizens of Namibia can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Swiss nationals in Namibia
According to the statistics on the Swiss abroad, at the end of 2020 there were 300 Swiss nationals living in Namibia; 48 Namibian nationals were living in Switzerland.
History of bilateral relations
Namibia's transition to independence, after having been under the control of South Africa since 1920, was negotiated in Geneva under the auspices of the UN and was supported by Switzerland. The Federal Council recognised the new country upon its independence in 1990.
In 1988 Switzerland played host in Geneva to the negotiations on Angola and Namibia. It then lent its support to the UN peace plan and sent a medical unit of 155 members to Namibia followed by a team of election observers.
The SDC coordination office, which opened in 1989 in connection with that mission, was transformed into a consulate general following independence; this was closed, however, in 1996.