Bilateral Trade Report



Brazil and Switzerland have a harmonious and long-term business relationship. Brazil is the main economic partner in Latin America, responsible for 26% of Swiss business in the region. In 2018, Brazil ranked 23th in the list of Switzerland’s most important trade partners. On the other hand, Switzerland is the 31st most important trade partner of Brazil. In 2018, Brazil was the destination of 38% of exports from Switzerland to Latin America, followed by Mexico, 21%, and Argentina, 12%.

Brazil sells mainly gold, sugar cane, copper, chicken and turkey meat, coffee, rice, heart valves, orthopedic prostheses, orange juice, coffee, oil, cigarettes, soy, earthmoving and drilling machines, among others.

Meanwhile, Switzerland exports medicinal products for human and veterinary use, nitrogen and heterocyclic compounds, fuel oils, roasted coffee, radars, watches, hearing aids and so on.

In addition, the two nations maintain an excellent diplomatic relationship in the cultural and political domain and hold frequently ministerial meetings and bilateral political consultations.

According to the Federal Statistical Office of Switzerland, currently, approximately 18,000 Swiss citizens live in Brazil, while the Brazilian community in Switzerland has 21,858 people.


Diplomatic relations between Brazil and Switzerland


Diplomatic relations between Brazil and Switzerland began when Brazil was part of the Portuguese Empire. In 1818, the King João VI authorized 100 Swiss families to settle as immigrants at the Fazenda do Morro Queimado, in Rio de Janeiro. The colony grew up to the point it became first a village, then a city, called Nova Friburgo, in the year of 1890. In September 2017, Nova Friburgo received the title of “Brazilian Switzerland” by the Government of Rio de Janeiro.

The first Brazilian diplomatic mission arrived in Switzerland, in 1855, when José Francisco Guimarães became the first diplomatic representative as a Consul in Bern. On the other side, the first Swiss representative, Albert Gertsch, was sent to Brazil in 1907, in charge of business relationship. The Swiss legation in Rio de Janeiro became an Embassy in 1958, while the Brazilian legation in Berne became an Embassy in the following year.

Over the last few years, Brazil and Switzerland have approached relations aiming to reach a better economic cooperation. In 2007, both countries agreed on creating a “Memorandum of Understanding”, which established a Joint Commission on Economic and Trade Relations. The former Brazilian Ambassador to Switzerland, Eduardo dos Santos, affirmed that this agreement was a “central point for coordination and convergence between the two Governments and, above all, between representatives of the private sector”.

Since 2014, Switzerland is not considered by the Brazilian Federal Revenue Service a “tax haven”. After several negotiations and efforts, the Swiss government achieved to reverse the situation and the Brazilian government suspended the “tax haven” status. Now, both countries agreed on following a standard for automatic exchange of information on capital income, called the AIA. This procedure is based on OECD-standard and took effect in 2019.

Among other agreements signed by Brazil and Switzerland, we can mention the “Signature of Agreement between the Government of the Federative Republic of Brazil and the Swiss Federal Council on the Exchange of Trainees ” (2011), the “Social Security Agreement between the Federative Republic of Brazil and the Swiss Confederation” (2011), “Treaty between Switzerland and the Federative Republic of Brazil on the transfer of sentenced persons “(2015) and the “Agreement on Exchange of Information on Tax Matters ” (2019).

In 2018, another important agreement was signed, the “Convention for the elimination of double taxation with respect to taxes on income and the prevention of tax evasion and avoidance”. Switzerland’s current Ambassador to Brazil, Andrea Semadeni, emphasized that the “lack of a double taxation agreement between the two countries was one of the biggest complaints of Swiss companies.” The agreement was approved by the Swiss parliament in March 2019. In Brazil, the bill is in the House of Representatives.

Since October 2019, an agreement has entered into force on the “Social Security Agreement between Brazil and Switzerland”, which has been in the parliaments of both countries since 2014. It allows working time in both countries to be accounted for when granting social security benefits.

Negotiations for the free trade agreement between the EFTA (European Free Trade Association) member countries and MERCOSUR were also signed. Negotiations began in 2017 and after ten rounds were closed in August 2019. The agreement is yet to be approved by the parliaments of the two countries.

Another excellent news for the relationship between Brazil and Switzerland is that from the first half of 2020, mutual recognition between Anvisa and SwissMedic inspections will come into force. The pilot project establishes a workflow between the two institutions to give concrete meaning to the recognition that the inspection systems of both countries are equivalent. The project will apply to all drugs (synthetic, biological and herbal), including active pharmaceutical ingredients.

In November 2019, the Swiss research and innovation support agencies strengthened their collaboration with Brazil under the Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the two countries. The meeting celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Scientific and Technological Cooperation Agreement signed in 2009 with Brazil. Two memoranda of understanding were signed by the Swiss National Science Foundation and Innosuisse – Swiss Innovation Agency, the Swiss Agency for the Promotion of Innovation, with its Brazilian counterparts, EMBRAPII – Brazilian Company for Industrial Research and Innovation and CONFAP, to strengthen collaboration in the areas. of research and innovation.

Also, in November 2019, the Foreign Relations Commission (CRE) approved the Draft Legislative Decree (PDL) 634/2019, which ratifies the text of the open skies agreement between Brazil and Switzerland, signed in Brasilia, on July 8, 2001. 2013 The agreement establishes a legal framework for the air services operation between the two countries and is based on the so-called “open skies policy”, in which two nations relax the rules for commercial flights.

Trade Balance

According to the Brazilian Ministry of Development, Industry and Foreign Affairs, Brazil presented a global export of  US$ 239 billion in 2018 and a global import of US$ 181 billion, resulting in a surplus of US$ 58 billion in the trade balance. On the other hand, Switzerland exported worldwide US$ 350 billion and imported US$ 274 billion, with a surplus of US$ 31 billion.

Brazil is Switzerland’s main economic partner in Latin America. Regarding trade between the two countries, it was recorded by SECEX (Secretariat of Foreign Trade) that Brazil exported to Switzerland US $ 811 million and imported US $ 2 billion in 2018. These values ​​have a positive variation of 2.36%. in imports and 13.51% in exports, compared to 2017. Brazil is Switzerland’s main economic partner in Latin America and is in 23rd position in the ranking of countries with trade partnerships.

Business Highlights

UBS and Banco do Brasil signed a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding to launch a leading investment bank in South America, providing services in Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, with UBS being the majority shareholder (50.01%) of the partnership, which is still subject to the successful conclusion of the negotiations between the parties.

Bobst Group has announced that will open a new facility in Itatiba-SP in 2020 that will occupy a 6000m² area, including a competence center and training area.

Emmi, a major Swiss milk processor, in its strategy to strengthen international business, increased its stake to 70% in Laticínios Porto Alegre, one of the three largest milk processors in Minas Gerais. The acquisition of the majority of the shares is subject to approval by the local authority.

Swiss company Aryzta, which operates in the market of frozen bakery, announced in July 2018 an investment of R$ 150 million for the installation of another factory in Brazil. The location has not been decided yet, but the company’s fifth unit in the country is expected to start operations in 2020. Once completed, this will be the company’s largest plant, with 12,000 m².

In March 2019, Zurich Airport won concessions for the operation of two more airports in Brazil, in the cities of Vitória/ES and Macaé/RJ for a period of 30 years, that includes expansion investments in the following years. It’s the fourth airport in Brazil and eighth in Latin America operated by the Swiss company.

The Swiss company Stadler Rail delivered custom trains for the Corcovado mountain in Rio de Janeiro, an investment of BRL 200 million. It’s the fourth generation of trains with Swiss technology since 1884 in one of the most popular tourist attractions in Brazil.

A consortium formed by the Swiss company Molinari and the Brazilian companies TTrans and Bom Sinal will supply the Metro of São Paulo with new trains, systems and equipment for the new line 17 (Ouro). With the best offer (approximately BRL 1 billion) presented in October 2019, the consortium documents are still subject to approval.

Nestlé will invest BRL 1 billion in São Paulo state over the next three years to introduce new production lines in the factures of Araçatuba and Caçapava, and new technologies and digital initiatives, as well as startup acceleration.

ABB announced in the end of 2018 investment of BRL 1 million for the expansion of the Robotics Training Center (CTR), located in the company’s industrial complex in Guarulhos (SP).

The Franco-Swiss construction materials franchise Disensa arrived in Brazil in February 2018. Founded by the LafargeHolcim group, the retail network has more than one thousand stores throughout Latin America. In Brazil, the goal is to reach 350 stores by 2022.

The Swiss company specialized in oral health, Curaprox, inaugurated in 2018 a distribution center in the city of São Caetano do Sul. The new building is located in an area of 3,000 m² and is used to store the logistic operation of the entire national territory. The company invested R$ 15 million and created 33 direct jobs and 300 indirect jobs. The expectation is to double the number of employees within the next five years.

Perlen Packaging AG acquired a Brazilian company in 2018 and opened a new plant in the state of Goiás to develop packaging solutions for the pharmaceutical industry. The Swiss company intend to invest BRL 70 million in the next two years and increase the number of employees from 30 to 300.

Atlas Schindler inaugurated two new offices in the cities of Curitiba and Salvador. In addition, the company invested in the modernization of the Londrina plant, which exports products to all Latin America. Atlas Schindler also celebrated 100 years in Brazil.

Glen-Rico SA, a joint venture between Glencore and Ricolog, a Brazilian logistics company, was formed in 2018 to transport sugar produced by Glencore in the state of São Paulo to the port of Paranaguá in the state of Paraná. In the same year, the Swiss company acquired 78% of ALE Combustíveis, the fourth largest fuel distributor in Brazil, with approximately 1,500 gas stations in 22 states.

The Swiss fund Partners Group officialized at the end of 2018 the purchase of the “Hortifruti” network. The European group will invest R$ 80 million in 2019, aiming to open 12 stores and expand the business. Currently, “Hortifruti” has 34 stores in Rio and two in Espírito Santo. In addition to the Hortifruti brand, the business embraces the “Natural da Terra” network, which has nine stores in São Paulo and was purchased in 2015 by the hortifrutigranjeiros retailer.

Business Opportunities

Despite the economic and political crisis of recent years, Brazil continues to attract investors from Switzerland and other countries, since the country has been showing significant improvements. The July 2019 Report on Investment Prospects of the National Bank for Social Development (BNDES) projects that investments for the 2019-2022 quadrennium will reach R$ 1.1 trillion. Compared to the survey conducted in July of last year for the period 2018-2021, there was a real increase of 2.7% of total investments.

The projections are of growth in the industry. In infrastructure, the comparison between the value in 2018 and the average from 2019 to 2022 shows a slight decrease scenario. What explains the scenario of a strong expansion of investments is the high performance of oil and gas, driven by the recovery in oil prices and the exploration block concession or sharing auctions held in 2017 and early 2018.

In infrastructure, the scenario is for retraction in investments in electricity until 2021, with resumption from 2022. In contrast, the perspective is of significant increase in investments in logistics and sanitation. Performances in these two sectors show a recovery in investment in the most deprived areas, especially from 2020.

There are growing prospects for the railways to be inserted in the exportation of bulk agricultural exports (North-South Railroad and increase of capacity of the North Mesh towards the Port of Santos), but challenges still persist in general cargo rail transport, the main Brazilian demand. In sanitation, it is noteworthy that more than half of the sewage generated in the country (54%) is not treated (2017 data).

Switzerland attracts investments from around the world and Brazilian companies are well aware of the country’s potential. Switzerland excels in the Information and Communication Technology, Life Sciences and Machine, Electrical and Metallurgy sectors. Switzerland has numerous technology parks and business incubators, most of which are gathered in associations. With different formats and alignments in terms and themes and areas of knowledge, they developed through close links with higher education institutions and partly through purely private initiative.

In 2009, Switzerland ranked fifth in the World Digital Competitiveness ranking produced by the Lausanne-based IMD Business School. The ranking measures the ability and readiness of 63 countries to adapt and exploit digital technologies, a key factor in the broader economic transformation of business, government and society.

Currently, Switzerland has been a strong player in the fintech area. A study by the Zug IFZ Institute of Financial Services at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts shows Zurich and Geneva in second and third positions among the cities with the best conditions for business development in the fintech area. The excellent conditions combined with the pooling of innovative entrepreneurs, proactive authorities and leading scientific research institutes have led to the development of the Crypto Valley in the canton of Zug. Swiss fintech companies raised CHF 271 million through this alternative form of financing in 2017.

In 2018, the regulators Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (Finma) and its Brazilian counterpart, the Securities Commission (CVM) signed a cooperation agreement in the area of fintechs. “The agreement represents an advance in our cooperation in the area by providing the right structure for innovative fintech companies to engage in discussions and understand regulatory requirements. In addition, the agreement helps to reduce regulatory uncertainty and time to market,” said Swiss State Secretary Jörg Gasser at an event in Sao Paulo.

Switzerland and the Swiss government also show great interest in technologies for the generation and use of clean and renewable energy, favoring Brazil in the field of biofuels and ethanol. In this area, the opportunities lie not only in the direct sale of alternative fuels but also in technology transfer and productive partnerships between companies from both countries.


The Brazilian Department of Development, Industry, Commerce, Services and Innovation publishes every six months a report with information about investments in Brazil. According to the report, Switzerland has invested about US$ 1.19 billion in 2018 and 2019, as shown in the table below:

CompanyOrigin of capitalInvestment detailsTypeAmount  (US$)      Valor (US$)
FERRING PHARMACEUTICALSSwitzerlandInvestment for product development with Brazilian scientists, including the preclinical phase.Expansion2.645.503      5.873.016


HORTIFRUTI NATURAL DA TERRA (PARTNERS GROUP)SwitzerlandInvestment to open five (5) units in Rio de Janeiro and to renovate nine (9) Natural da Terra brand stores in São Paulo.Implantation


21.341.463     151.975.684
ABB LTDASwitzerlandInvestment in the expansion of the company’s Robotics Training Center, in Guarulhos (SP).Expansion264.550     32.051.282
NESTLÉSwitzerlandInvestment in Dolce Gusto factory in Montes Claros (MG). Aiming at doubling the manufacturing capacity of the multi-drink capsules, two (2) new production lines will be applied, which is double the current factory capacity, reaching 800 million capsules per year.Expansion61.728.39524.922.118 




NESTLÉ / FONTERRANew Zeland, SwitzerlandInvestment for the implementation of one (1) factory in Garanhuns (PE). Unit will pack milk Nest powder, in sachet version. The new line should have a total installed capacity of 10,000 tons per year, which should happen gradually, reaching this maximum capacity level in about four years.Implantation1.524.390





DG POWER (DGPL) / MERCURIA ENERGY TRADINGBangladesh, SwitzerlandInvestment in the first phase of a fuel formulator in the Pecém port region.Implantation51.020.408




ATLAS SCHINDLERSwitzerlandInvestment for the construction of one (1) new headquarters, in Cambuci (SP). The area will be twice as large as the current one; the training and distribution centers will be expanded and the showcase modernized. There will also be office refurbishment at the Londrina (PR) plant and operational improvements at the branches.Expansion Implantation23.529.411
ATLAS SCHINDLERSwitzerlandInvestment for the construction of one (1) new headquarters, in Cambuci (SP). The area will be twice as large as the current one; the training and distribution centers will be expanded and the showcase modernized. There will also be office refurbishment at the Londrina (PR) plant and operational improvements at the branches.Expansion Implantation2.941.177
ARYZTASwitzerlandInvestment to build one (1) frozen bakery factory. The unit will have 12,000 square meters dedicated to bread production in the South or Southeast. Once ready, it will be the largest factory of the company.Implantation39.787.798
LATICÍNIOS PORTO ALEGREBrazil, SwitzerlandInvestment in a milk drying tower in the unit of Antonio Carlos (MG).Expansion Modernization7.462.686
LATÍCINIOS PORTO ALEGREBrazil, SwitzerlandInvestment in a new unit in Patos de Minas (MG). The plant will produce mozzarella, platter, parmesan and whey cheese, which will be marketed to other industries.Implantation14.925.373
NESTLÉSwitzerlandInvestment to expand the production of chocolate and child nutrition products in Caçapava and Araçatuba factories in the state of São Paulo.Modernization265.251.989
NESTLÉSwitzerlandInvestment to transfer the activities of the unit from Itabuna (BA) to the Feira de Santana (BA) plant, which will be expanded and will receive contributions to three new production lines of ” Nescau Ready to Drink ”. The idea is that the unit will become a production and distribution hub for the Northeast. The new equipment of Feira de Santana will have capacity to produce up to 75 thousand tons per year.Expandion Modernization11.936.339
NESTLÉSwitzerlandInvestment in eleven (11) industrial units and distribution centers located in São Paulo, the main supplier of milk to the company in the country. This amount will be invested in factories, digitization, product innovation and organics.Modernization177.083.333
LAFARGEHOLCIM LTDSwitzerlandInvestment in aggregate plant in Cajamar, in the metropolitan region of São Paulo. The funds will be allocated to the acquisition of new equipment, automation and expansion of facilities for the production of three new types of artificial sand for mortar and limestone filler, which will increase the unit’s production capacity from 60 thousand to 80 thousand tons / month. of cement.Expansion Modernization3.713.527
NOVARTISSwitzerlandInvestment in clinical research. The amount is foreseen for studies in all areas of the company: oncology, ophthalmology, biosimilars and other specialties such as neurology, immunology and respiratory system. The amount will go to 63 trials, 50 of them in cancer treatments.Expansion255.102.041
OCTAPHARMA / HEMOBRÁS / TECPARBrazil, SwitzerlandInvestment to implement one (1) factory in Maringá (PR). The unit will produce six (6) blood products: albumin, immunoglobulin, plasma coagulation factors VIII and IX, von Willebrand factor, and prothrombin complex.Implantation250.000.000
ARCH QUÍMICA BRASIL (LONZA GROUP)SwitzerlandInvestment for installation of industrial activities in the municipality of Sorocaba (SP). The focus will be on developing and manufacturing chemicals for the treatment of swimming pools and industrial waters. It is estimated that 80% of the distribution operation will be installed by December 2018 and 100% of the operation completed by March 2019.Implantation5.333.333

Source: MDIC

According to the BNDES Investment Outlook Report 2018-2021, the outlook is for real growth of 1.9% per annum on average over 2018-2021, showing a significant improvement in expectations compared to the previous survey, when the forecast was for an average 3.1% drop in investments from 2017 to 2020.

The determining factors in the improvement of the scenario were the increase in international commodity prices, the recovery of domestic demand and public policies and public service concession programs.

Table 1: Investment outlook 2018-2021 (position in October 2018) – In billions of Reais

Sector2017Annual Average Projection


Mineral Extraction13,815,1
Oil and Gas57,972,8
Paper and Cellulose7,75,3
Health Industrial Complex5,05,1
Electrical Engineering Complex4,15,3
  • Highways
  • Railways
  • Ports
  • Aeroports
  • Urban Mobility

Source: BNDES

Swiss companies in Brazil

About 350 Swiss companies maintain operations in Brazil. Major companies such as ABB, Adecco, Arytza, Autoneum, Barry Callebaut, Blaser, Bobst, Bühler, Clariant, Credit Suisse, Curaprox, Dufry, Ferring, Firmenich, Givaudan, Lafarge-Holcim, Liebherr, Lonza, MSC, Nestlé, Novartis, Panalpina, Precious Woods, Richemont, Roche, Atlas Schindler, Sigvaris, Swissport, Syngenta, Victorinox, Zurich, Zürcher Kantonalbank, UBS and many others have a significant presence in the Brazilian market. Brazil is also a strategic place for companies that aim to export to other countries in Latin America. Some of them have been in Brazil for more than 100 years.

Brazilian companies in Switzerland

Some of the main Brazilian companies investing in Switzerland are: CBMM, Vale, Vicunha, Banco Safra, Itaú Private Bank, Biomecânica, Stefanini IT, Suzano, EFW Capital Advisors, Welle Laser. Brazil is also present through small and micro-enterprises founded by Brazilian citizens. They are law firms, travel agencies, restaurants, shops and beauty salons.


Area (km2): 41,285
Population: 8.5 million (2018)
Official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansh
Capital: Bern
Currency: Swiss Franc – CHF
GDP: $ 705.5 billion (2018)
GDP per capita: US $ 68,079 (2017)
Total exports: US $ 305 billion (2018)
Total Imports: US $ 274 billion (2018)

Embassy of Switzerland in Brazil:

SES Av. das Nações Q. 811, lote 41
70448-900 Brasília – DF
Tel.: +55 61 3443 5500
Ambassador: Andrea Semadeni
E-mail: [email protected]





Area (km2): 8.514.877
Population: 210 million (2018)
Official language: Portuguese
Capital: Brasilia
Currency: Real – BRL – R $
GDP: $ 6.8 trillion (2018)
GDP per capita: US $ 32,747 (2018)
Total exports: US $ 239 billion (2018)
Total Imports: US $ 181 billion (2018)

Embassy of Brazil in Switzerland
Monbijoustrasse 68
CH – 3007 Bern
Tel.: +41 31 371 8515
Ambassador:  José Borges dos Santos Junior
E-mail: [email protected]

Export Promotion Agency – APEX Brasil
SBN Quadra 2 – Lote 11, Edifício Apex-Brasil
70040-020 Brasília – DF – Tel.: +55 61 3426 0202

Brasil Export – Guia de Comércio Exterior e Investimento

Consulate General of Brazil in Geneva
45, rue de Lausanne – 1er étage
CH – 1201 Genève
Tel.: +41 22 906 9420
E-mail: [email protected]
Susan Kleebank – General Consul

General Consulate of Brazil in Zurich
Stampfenbachstrasse 138
CH – 8006 Zürich
Tel.: +41 44 206 9020
E-mail: [email protected]
Alexandre Ruben Milito Gueiros – Cônsul-Geral

Consulate General of Switzerland in Sao Paulo
Avenida Paulista, 1754 – 4° andar
01310-200 São Paulo – SP
Tel.: +55 11 3372 8200
E-mail: [email protected]
Urs Brönnimann – General Consul

Latin American Chamber of Commerce in Switzerland – Latcam
Kasernenstrasse 11
CH – 8004 Zürich
Tel.: +41 44 240 3300
E-mail: [email protected]

Switzerland Global Enterprise
Stampfenbachstrasse 85
8006 Zürich
Tel.: +41 44 365 5151

Rede Nacional de Informações sobre o Investimento – RENAI
Ministério do Desenvolvimento, Indústria e Comércio Exterior
Secretaria do Desenvolvimento da Produção – SDP
Esplanada dos Ministérios, Bloco “J”, 5º andar – Sala 507
70053-900 Brasília – DF
Tel.: +55 61 2027 7055
E-mail: [email protected]