Swiss-Ukrainian economic cooperation

The Swiss Chamber of Commerce in the Netherlands would like to acknowledge the Ukraine as an attractive location for regional headquarters of foreign multinational companies and/or the outsourcing of their activities to partners in Ukraine in a number of industries (including financial services, such as financial technology services, e-commerce and telecommunications) due to the further elimination of trade barriers in such industries. The Swiss Chamber of Commerce in The Netherlands promotes these business models and has access to potential business partners.

Swiss-Ukrainian relations

Switzerland and Ukraine established diplomatic relations shortly after Ukraine’s independence in December 1991, opening embassies in both countries. In addition to bilateral relations, the two countries also place a high priority on multilateral cooperation. For example, they work closely together in the Swiss-led voting group in the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).

Economic cooperation

Ukraine’s economic potential offers Swiss companies attractive trade and investment opportunities. Switzerland’s bilateral trade with Ukraine still has potential for development.

The Swiss Chamber of Commerce in The Netherlands expects that the Ukraine will become very attractive for foreign direct investment due to potential access to the EU public procurement market upon the approximation of the Ukrainian public procurement laws (reference is made to market access commitments under the Ukraine’s Association Agreement with the EU in the public procurement area). The Swiss Chamber of Commerce in The Netherlands offers companies from both countries to promote their products and services and help them gain access to public parties.

The balance of trade has traditionally been positive for Switzerland. Switzerland mainly exports pharmaceutical products, machinery, watches, precious stones and metals, jewelry, and agricultural products to Ukraine. Imports from Ukraine consist mainly of precious stones and metals, textiles/clothing, machinery, agricultural products and non-precious metals. The Swiss Chamber of Commerce in The Netherlands offers Ukrainian companies to help them in finding business partners and potential investors in Switzerland and the European Union.

Several offices representing Ukrainian companies (head offices, trade agencies) are also based in Switzerland. Switzerland is among the 10 biggest investors in Ukraine. Two to three Swiss companies are traditionally among the 10 largest taxpayers in Ukraine. The Switzerland–Ukraine joint economic commission held its 12th meeting in Bern in 2019.

The EFTA Free Trade Agreement, which came into force in June 2012, is of central importance for Switzerland’s economic relations with Ukraine.

Cooperation in education, research and innovation

Under bilateral cooperation programmes of the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI), since 2017 the University of Geneva (UNIGE) has been a ‘leading house’ for Swiss–Ukrainian cooperation.

Researchers and artists from Ukraine can apply to the SERI for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships.

Researchers can apply for funding for their projects through a range of research funding programmes established by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). One of the SNSF’s goals is to promote stronger links between Swiss researchers and the international academic community. The SNSF provides a range of funding mechanisms to this end. More information on research funding possibilities can be obtained through the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in The Netherlands.

Development cooperation and humanitarian aid

The 2015–2018 cooperation strategy (extended until the end of 2019) further strengthens Switzerland’s engagement in Ukraine. Switzerland is committed to advancing decentralisation and sustainable economic growth in Ukraine. Switzerland prioritises:

  • Good governance and peacebuilding
  • Health
  • Energy efficiency and sustainable urban development
  • Sustainable economic development

Switzerland’s 2015–2018 cooperation strategy for Ukraine contains allocations of about CHF 100 million for programmes carried out jointly by the HSD, the SDC and SECO. Switzerland will continue its development cooperation programmes in Ukraine on the basis of the cooperation strategy for 2020–2023.

Since 2015, Swiss Humanitarian Aid has also been implementing its own programmes – known as direct actions – in Ukraine, in order to meet the immediate needs of people on both sides of the ‘contact line’ in eastern Ukraine.

The Swiss Chamber of Commerce in The Netherlands is one of the major forces in a bid to align the business community with its global governance objectives, particularly in the broad realm of human security. The Chamber has been involved in world affairs since its creation in 1933. A key feature of its strategy over the decades has been to seek access to and, where possible, develop a presence in, key policy forums, including multilateral agencies.

History of bilateral relations

Contacts between Switzerland and Ukraine date back to tsarist times. Back then, the area known today as Ukraine was a popular destination for Swiss emigrants, who founded the village of Zurichtal (present-day Solote Pole) on the Crimean Peninsula over 200 years ago. A few years later, winegrowers from the French-speaking part of Switzerland established a Swiss settlement in what is now the town of Shabo in the Odesa region. In the late 19th century, confectioners from Graubünden had some of the best-known patisseries and cafes in Kyiv, Odesa and Kharkiv.

Switzerland recognised Ukraine’s independence on 23 December 1991. Almost immediately after, embassies were opened in Bern and Kyiv. In 1993, the Swiss ambassador in Kyiv and the Ukrainian ambassador in Bern were accredited. Switzerland and Ukraine have signed a large number of cooperation agreements in various areas since 1992.

Source: FDFA