Switzerland has a close and dynamic relationship with India that is reflected in numerous treaties and agreements and in frequent high-level diplomatic visits. The broad-based cooperation between the two countries covers areas including trade, science, education and culture.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–India
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
India is one of Switzerland's principal partners in Asia. Regular high-level meetings and visits have strengthened relations between the two countries.
Switzerland and India have signed numerous bilateral agreements covering a range of areas (trade, development cooperation, education and vocational training, visas, migration, air traffic, investment, finance, taxation and scientific and technological cooperation).
Switzerland maintains an extensive network of representations throughout India to facilitate access to the various services it provides for Indian and Swiss nationals, companies, academic partners and cultural actors.
In 2018 Switzerland and India celebrated the 70th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship signed between the two countries in 1948.
India is Switzerland's fourth-largest trading partner in Asia and the largest in South Asia.
In 2018 Swiss exports to India amounted to CHF 17.4 billion and comprised mainly precious metals, machinery, pharmaceuticals and chemicals. Imports, mainly of chemicals, textiles, precious metals and agricultural products, amounted to CHF 1.83 billion in 2018. At the end of 2016 Swiss direct investment in India totalled CHF 4.7 billion. Some 250 Swiss companies have a presence in India in the form of joint ventures, subsidiaries or branches.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
Switzerland and India signed a science and technology agreement in 2003 and a memorandum of understanding on cooperation in the social sciences in 2012. The activities covered in these agreements fall within the scope of the Indo-Swiss Joint Research Programme.
Swissnex India, located in Bangalore, connects Switzerland and India in the fields of science, education, arts and innovation.
India is a priority country for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships for Foreign Scholars and Artists, which are aimed at young researchers.
The Swiss VET Initiative India (SVETII) was launched in 2008 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Friendship between Switzerland and India.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
The Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) has contributed to India's development since 1961. Traditional bilateral development cooperation was phased out a few years ago but the SDC remains active in India through its global programmes. Its current activities focus on issues related to climate change. Switzerland aims to contribute to climate-compatible development in India.
The SDC also promotes cooperation on global issues such as food security, water and urban search and rescue (USAR).
Switzerland and India have a long tradition of cultural relations. Many Swiss artists and researchers have been active in India, including the architect Le Corbusier and the painter, sculptor and art historian Alice Boner. On the Indian side, producers like Yash Chopra have set popular Bollywood films in the Alps, bringing the two countries closer together.
The opening of the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia liaison office in New Delhi in 2007 gave additional impetus to cultural relations between Switzerland and India.
Swiss nationals in India
According to statistics on the Swiss abroad, 660 Swiss nationals (including 165 dual nationals) were resident in India at the end of 2018.
History of bilateral relations
Switzerland recognised and established diplomatic relations with India after the country gained independence in 1947. During the dispute over Bangladesh from 1971 to 1976, Switzerland represented India's interests in Pakistan and those of Pakistan in India. India has an embassy in Bern and two consulates-general, one in Geneva and the other in Zurich.
In 1851 the Swiss trading company Volkart was established in Basel and Mumbai. It quickly expanded its network of branches and diversified its activities on the sub-continent, becoming the backbone of Switzerland's economic and consular presence in India. The number of Swiss nationals working in India rose sharply during the first half of the 20th century.