Known as the 'Switzerland of Central America' thanks to its political stability and the relative prosperity of its economy, Costa Rica has for many years enjoyed good diplomatic and trade relations with Switzerland. At the multilateral level, for example at the UN, Switzerland and Costa Rica often work closely together to advance common causes.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Costa Rica
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Costa Rica have a large number of bilateral agreements in force. These range from investment protection, visa requirements, technical and scientific cooperation, and aviation, to the exchange of information in tax matters. The EFTA states, Costa Rica and Panama also concluded a free trade agreement in 2014.
The two countries' close diplomatic relations also extend to the multilateral level: both belong to the ACT (Accountability, Coherence and Transparency) group of states, which advocates shared values and ideas at the UN, such as the reform of the UN Security Council and its working methods. Even before Switzerland joined the UN, it worked together with Costa Rica on various initiatives to improve international law.
Costa Rica is Switzerland's most important trading partner in Central America. In 2022 Switzerland imported CHF 142 million worth of goods from Costa Rica, mainly agricultural products, while Switzerland exported goods to the value of CHF 227 million to Costa Rica – mainly pharmaceuticals, chemicals, precision instruments, watches, jewellery and machinery. At the end of 2021, direct investment from Switzerland in Costa Rica amounted to just under CHF 1.5 billion, and Swiss companies employed 2962 people in the country.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers with Costa Rican citizenship can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
In February 2014, Costa Rica and CERN signed an agreement to facilitate scientific cooperation and access to grants for students and researchers.
In addition, the Swiss National Science Foundation is funding an ETH Zurich project to identify the conditions required to establish a dual vocational education and training system in Costa Rica (by 2023).
Swiss nationals in Costa Rica
There were 1735 Swiss citizens living in Costa Rica at the end of 2022.
History of bilateral relations
An honorary consul was appointed by the Federal Council in 1912, and in 1957 the two countries initiated diplomatic relations, at which point Switzerland upgraded its representation to a consulate general. An embassy was opened in San José 10 years later. Costa Rica has maintained an embassy in Bern since 1981.