Relations between Switzerland and Guatemala are good. The two countries cooperate in the following areas: the economy, justice, human security, culture and science.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Guatemala
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and Guatemala have agreements covering a number of areas, including trade, air transport and investment promotion and protection. Efforts are focused on strengthening the legal system, combating impunity, protecting human rights, dealing with the past, environmental protection and climate change, promoting trade, and cultural exchanges.
Consular matters are handled by the Swiss embassy in San José.
Trade between Switzerland and Guatemala is limited in scope. In 2022 Switzerland imported CHF 78.3 million in goods, almost entirely composed of agricultural produce. In the same year, Switzerland exported products worth just under CHF 34.6 million to Guatemala, consisting mainly of machinery, chemical and pharmaceutical products, precision instruments and watches. The free trade agreement between EFTA and the Central American States (Costa Rica and Panama) came into force in 2014. Guatemala subsequently ratified the agreement in 2020. The accession process has not yet been completed, however, and the agreement has not yet entered into force in Guatemala.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Researchers who are citizens of Guatemala can apply to the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.
Peacebuilding and human security
The FDFA is committed to ending impunity and corruption in Guatemala. Switzerland supported the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (CICIG) from 2007 until its mandate ended in September 2019. Switzerland also provides assistance in dealing with the past, peacebuilding, women's rights, freedom of expression and press freedom, and upholding ethnic diversity. It has organised or supported a range of training initiatives and exhibitions on these issues.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Central America has been a priority region for Swiss development cooperation for over 40 years. Within the framework of bilateral cooperation and humanitarian aid, Guatemala received around CHF 1.3 million from the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) in 2021. The SDC's activities are focused mainly on Nicaragua and Honduras. However, specific regional natural disaster prevention and response projects, for example, have also benefited Guatemala (cf. Hurricanes Eta and Iota at the end of 2020). Swiss bilateral development cooperation will be withdrawn from this region by the end of 2024, although humanitarian aid will continue.
Switzerland regularly sponsors concerts, theatrical performances and exhibitions by Swiss and Guatemalan artists.
Swiss nationals in Guatemala
There were 1135 Swiss citizens living in Guatemala at the end of 2022.
History of bilateral relations
Although Guatemala achieved independence in 1821, the state was not established until 1839. Switzerland recognised the state immediately. A Swiss consulate was opened in Guatemala City in 1891 and an embassy established in 1962. Switzerland and Guatemala have maintained diplomatic relations since 1957.