Switzerland and Pakistan have good, long-standing relations. The two countries have signed a range of economic agreements that have helped to develop bilateral trade.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Pakistan
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
There are numerous bilateral agreements between Switzerland and Pakistan covering a range of areas including investment protection, debt consolidation, aviation, double taxation as well as an exchange of information on financial accounts. Switzerland also engages in a regular political dialogue with Pakistan. The eleventh round of talks were held in November 2021 in Islamabad.
Switzerland and Pakistan enjoy good trade and economic relations. Switzerland has always been one of the top seven foreign direct investors in Pakistan. Major Swiss companies are present in Pakistan employing around 15,000 people. In 2021, Swiss exports to Pakistan amounted to approx. USD 398 million and consisted mainly of machinery, chemical and pharmaceutical products, and watches. Imports from Pakistan – mainly textiles, leather articles, and agricultural products – amounted to approx. USD 268 million.
In the framework of the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) of the World Bank and the IMF, Switzerland has extended a delay in repayment of more than USD 9 million of debt to Pakistan.
Switzerland takes the problem of illicit financial flows very seriously. Switzerand is an active proponent of international standards to combat abuse and has implemented a number of measures to ensure the integrity of its financial centre. In 2021, the tax authorities of both countries implemented the automatic exchange of financial information (AEOI).
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
A joint event by the Embassy of Switzerland and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan was held under the Science Diplomacy Initiative of the latter on agricultural technologies related innovations for sustainable agriculture in August 2021. Swiss and Pakistani start-ups, experts from major universities in Switzerland and Pakistan joined the event.
Researchers and artists from Pakistan can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
The Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC) has phased out its last program in Pakistan in 2020.
During the Covid-19 crisis, the Embassy of Switzerland donated 2,000 personal protective equipment (PPE) suits to the administration of Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS). In addition, Switzerland has been the 10th largest donor of vaccines to Pakistan under COVAX.
Swiss nationals in Pakistan
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, 374 Swiss nationals (including 315 dual nationals) were living in Pakistan at the end of 2021.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland recognised Pakistan's independence in 1947. In 1949, the two countries established diplomatic relations. During the Bangladesh conflict (1971–76), Switzerland represented Pakistan's interests in India and vice versa.
The Swiss Embassy in Pakistan has been located in Islamabad since 1968. The foundation of the new Embassy building was laid in February 1992.
In 1966, Switzerland and Pakistan signed a technical cooperation agreement. The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) opened a cooperation office in Islamabad in 1977. In December 2019, after more than 50 years and investments of around USD 750 million as official development assistance, the SDC closed its aid programme in Pakistan. To date, Switzerland is a member of the core group for the support platform for the Solutions Strategy for Afghan Refugees (SSAR) of the UNHCR in Pakistan, where particular emphasis is placed on education programmes. Moreover, small development projects in remote areas continue e.g. in Chani Ragyul (Gilgit-Baltistan).