Diplomatic relations between Nepal and Switzerland were established in November 1959. Nepal has its Embassy in Geneva, which also is the Permanent Mission of Nepal to the United Nations and International Organizations in Geneva. Switzerland opened its first residential Embassy in Nepal on August 17, 2009.
Bilateral relations are based on friendship, cordiality and mutual understanding. Switzerland has been a consistent contributor to Nepal’s development efforts.
Exchange of visits at various levels has contributed to further consolidating the relations between Nepal and Switzerland.
Visits from Switzerland
- The official visit of the Swiss President H.E. Mr. Arnold Keller to Nepal (Nov. 9-12, 1997) has been a landmark in the annals of Nepal-Swiss relations as it was the second foreign visit to Nepal by any Swiss President.
- Ambassador Ms. Heidi Tagliavini, Deputy Secretary of State, Government of Switzerland, visited Kathmandu (April 25-29, 2007) and the aim of visit was to underline the Swiss support to peace process of Nepal and to strengthen the good relations and cooperation between Nepal and Switzerland. During her visit Ms. Tagliavini paid a courtesy call on the Prime Minister Mr.Girija Prasad Koirala and other high dignitaries in Nepal, officials of UNMIN and Other International Community based in Kathmandu.
Visits from Nepal
- From Nepali side various high dignitaries like then Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala on September 11, 2000 in Geneva, then Foreign Minister Mr. Ramesh Nath Pandey in March 2005, then DPM and FM Mr. K. P. Sharma Oli in June 2006, then Foreign Ministers Ms. Sahana Pradhan and Mr. Upendra Yadav visited Switzerland in 2007 and 2008 respectively.
Switzerland’s cooperation to Nepal dates back to 1950s. Economic cooperation programme was initiated in 1956 with technical assistance scheme for cheese production in the eastern high hills. The Swiss Government, through the Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC), has been initiating various development projects ranging from Technical Instructor Training Project to Maternity Child Health Care Project. SDC started its activities in Nepal after being founded in 1961. Between 1970 and 1987, SDC and Helvetas operated jointly under the name of SATA. Currently, SDC and Helvetas are two distinct organisations and Helvetas functions as the executing agency of SDC.
In the development cooperation spanning more than 50 years, various sectors have come to benefit significantly. Earlier, the cooperation was geared towards improvement of livelihood in the rural areas of Nepal and building infrastructures. Since 2005, peace and human rights activities have dominated the Swiss cooperation and have been combined with development activities which intend to enhance the effectiveness of the Swiss support and reduce political and social conflicts in Nepal.
Switzerland provides 60% of its funding to national programmes benefiting all regions of the country. And 40% of development cooperation is implemented in two geographic cluster areas, namely Ramechhap, Okhaldhunga, and Khotang in central Nepal and Dailekh, Achham, Jajarkot, Kalikot in western Nepal.
Switzerland has adopted a South Asia-focused development cooperation strategy for Asia and Nepal is among 16 priority countries to receive Swiss assistance worldwide.
Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)
The history of Swiss cooperation in TVET in Nepal began in 1962 with the establishment of Balaju School of Engineering and Technology-BTTC (previously known as Mechanical Training Centre – MTC). The BTTC has trained estimated 10,000 youths. Similarly, SDC established Jiri Technical School (JTS) as another milestone of TVET in 1982. The JTS is estimated to have trained another 6,000 youths.
Training Institute for Technical Instruction (TITI), previously known as Technical Instructors Training Institute was established in 1991 with the assistance from the Swiss Government, SDC, and Swisscontact, the Swiss Foundation for Technical Cooperation. TITI, already a centre of excellence in Nepal, has trained 19,000 instructional, managerial and curriculum developers from Nepal and other countries. Training for Employment Project (TfE), which began in 2002, aims to strengthen the institutional capacity of TVET institutions and enhance the employability of the youths. Under Technical Support to Universities and CTEVT SDC supported to strengthening engineering education in Nepal through financial and technical support to Pulchowk Engineering Institute of TU, and its support to KU.
Franchising Skills (F-Skills) project, with the help from SDC through Helvetas-Nepal, helped introduce franchising system in training sector of Nepal with more than 20 franchisees now operational across the country. Since 2008, the F-Skill has been continued in the form of Employment Fund Project in partnership with other aid agencies such as UK-Aid, and has already trained 60,000 graduates through vocational skills training. SDC provided strong support to National Skill Testing Board (NSTB) in 1990’s enabling it to conduct testing effectively and efficiently. NSTB has 276 occupational skill standard (OSS), pool of assessors and other systems as well.
Recently, Switzerland has made another commitment, a 10-year support in the area of Technical Education and Vocational Training to address the increased rate of Nepal’s youth unemployment and under-employment through Enhance Skills for Sustainable and Rewarding Employment (ENSSURE) Project. The project to be implemented by HELVETAS by providing technical assistance to the Council for Technical Education and Vocational Training by mobilizing “roving” or visiting instructors to advise and help companies on all training aspects-notably in improving on the job informal apprenticeship and enhanced apprenticeship. The aim of the project is to connect the training of corporate workforce with the existing skills testing system leading to national certification is expected to be a major innovation with active participation of industry associations to cooperate with CTEVT in identifying training needs and developing required skills for their workforce. The phase-I of the project will run from 2016 to 2019 with a total budget of CHF 9.8 million.
Besides economic cooperation, the Swiss government offers technical assistance, which has been regularized since 18th August 1972 when the Government of Nepal and the Swiss Federal Council signed the Agreement on Technical Cooperation.
Switzerland has been regularly providing scholarships and training facilities to Nepali students and professionals.
Bilateral Consultation Mechanism
The first meeting of Nepal-Switzerland Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) was held in Kathmandu on 30 May 2016. The meeting was co-chaired by Mr. Bhrigu Dhungana, Joint Secretary at Europe America Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Nepal and H.E. Ambassador Johannes Matyassay, Assistant State Secretary and Head of the Asia-Pacific Division, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.
Various issues on development cooperation, transitional justice, Universal Periodic Review (of the human rights), migration, cooperation in regional and multilateral forums like SAARC, ASEM, AIIB, UN and post-earthquake reconstruction figured prominently and were deliberated upon in the meeting.
Nepal-Switzerland trade relation has witnessed growth over the years. The balance of trade is mostly unfavorable to Nepal. Major Nepalese exports to Switzerland consist of tea, spices, plants and parts of plants, homeopathic medicaments, hand knotted woolen carpets, ready-made garments, handicrafts, woolen goods, Nepalese paper and paper products, hides and silverware &jewellery.
Similarly Nepal imports time pieces, pharmaceutical products, chemicals, construction material, transport equipment (bus, truck and parts), machinery and parts, medical equipment, photographic paper, footwear, aluminium foil, air conditioner, etc. from Switzerland.
Nepal’s status of bilateral trade with Switzerland over the past few years is as follows:
|Value in NRs “000”|
Switzerland is a mountainous country like Nepal. Swiss people display a deep love for mountains. The Swiss Alps offer them with ideal setting for mountain climbing. The same passions for climbing mountains draw Swiss mountaineers to test their mettle on the snowy peaks of the Himalayas. Every year a significant number of Swiss tourists arrive to Nepal for a lot of leisure activities. The following figures indicate the number of Swiss tourists visiting Nepal during the past few years:
|Year||Total No. of arrivals|