President Doris Leuthard is shortly due to pay official visits to Argentina and Peru. On 18 April she will meet President Mauricio Macri and a number of government ministers in Argentina. The aim of the visit is to bring fresh impulses to the longstanding and dynamic relations between the two countries. In Peru too the aim of the visit will be to deepen bilateral relations. On 21 April President Leuthard will be received by President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski in Lima.
The presidential talks in Buenos Aires are expected to cover cooperation between Switzerland and Argentina on business and trade, which is to be deepened in upcoming negotiations on a free trade agreement between EFTA and Mercosur. Closer cooperation is also being sought in the areas of science, justice and finance, and within the UN where both countries have worked together successfully on human rights. President Macri will inform President Leuthard about his reform agenda.
As well as meeting President Macri, Ms Leuthard will meet with a number of ministers to discuss energy, transport, environment, finance and trade issues. Also on the agenda are meetings with business representatives and members of the Swiss community. There will be an opportunity to visit a tunnelling site on the Sarmiento railway as an example of Argentina’s infrastructure projects, and Ms Leuthard has also been invited to give a speech at the foreign policy think tank, Consejo Argentino para las Relaciones Internacionales (CARI).
Relations between Switzerland and Argentina are longstanding and wide ranging. Around 16,000 Swiss nationals live in Argentina today – the largest Swiss community in Latin America. In 2016 Argentina was the fifth largest trade partner in the region after Brazil, Venezuela, Peru and Mexico.
Official visit to Peru
Relations between Switzerland and Peru – the second stop on the president’s voyage – are close and wide ranging. Since the turn of the century Peru has strengthened its democracy and experienced impressive economic growth.
Switzerland first became involved in Peru in 1964 within the framework of traditional development aid. Since 2009 Peru has been a SECO priority country for economic development cooperation. Among other things the current programme aims to further strengthen the competitiveness of Peru’s economy. Peru is also part of the SDC’s Andes programme run from Lima tackling climate change and the sustainable management of water resources. As of the end of 2015 there were 3,100 Swiss nationals living in Peru.
During talks with President Kuczynski on Friday, 21 April, President Leuthard will discuss economic and trade policy, cooperation in legal matters and cultural affairs, as well as climate change and human rights. Ms Leuthard will also be present at the launch of SECO’s cooperation strategy for 2017 to 2020.
Possible ways of supporting reconstruction following the severe storms and flooding that have ravaged Peru in recent months will also be discussed. The programme in Peru will include visits to projects facilitated by Switzerland and a meeting with Swiss and Peruvian businesses in Lima.
It is the first time that a Swiss president has paid an official visit to either country. Ms Leuthard will be accompanied on her voyage by a business delegation.