External Economic Relations

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The external economic relations of the Canton of Zurich fall within the ambit of the Department for Economic Affairs. The focus is on networking at an international level and selectively expanding the canton’s external relations.

Tasks & Goals

The advancement of international relations translates into opportunities to directly pursue and actively influence international developments, both in the economic and in the political domain. The economic contacts resulting from these efforts are of direct benefit to Zurich-based representatives from industry, academia and administration.

In some countries, especially in China, direct private-sector and entrepreneurial contacts are not enough, which is why a degree of support is needed from high-ranking politicians. In this respect, the Department for Economic Affairs can help open doors, especially for SMEs and educational institutions, thus facilitating the initiation of new business relations and projects.


The Canton of Zurich has partnerships with Chongqing, Guangdong (both in China) and Seoul (South Korea). Partnership agreements are entered into only very selectively and after careful evaluation. They are adopted by the Government Council, primarily with the economic interests of the canton in mind. The Canton of Zurich also pursues and promotes economic relations with other countries and regions, chiefly with countries on the RRB 929/2012 country list.  

Partnerships with China and South Korea

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The People’s Republic of China is, today, one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Therefore, it makes good sense that the canton helps pave the way for Zurich’s well-diversified economy with its many outstanding companies and products.


The first partnership was signed on 23rd April, 2012, namely with China's largest municipality Chongqing. The »Partnership Agreement” was followed a year later by the conclusion of a »Letter of Intent” for economic collaboration. As a direct-controlled municipality, Chongqing is an autonomous administrative entity and home to some 31 million inhabitants. Thanks to its geographical location 2,400 km upstream from Shanghai, at the crossroads of the waterways from East China and the East-West trade routes, this region holds enormous economic potential. With the Partnership Agreement, the Canton of Zurich aims to implement specific projects and achieve corresponding results, so that Chinese companies and institutions will invest in Zurich and, in turn, companies from Zurich can gain a foothold in China.   

Councillor CWS
Reception of Mr TANG Liangzhi, Mayor of the Municipality of Chongqing at the Rechberg House in July 2018

Zurich’s Government Council entered a »Memorandum of Understanding” with the South Chinese province of Guangdong on 12th July 2013 in Zurich. This was followed by the signing of a »Partnership Agreement” on 18th April 2014. The Guangdong region has the largest gross domestic product in China and plays a pioneering economic role in the areas of electronics, finance industry and biotechnology. With the »Greater Bay Initiative”, the Guangdong province is striving to create a megapolis by connecting the centres Hong Kong, Macao and Guangzhou with six other cities in the province. The result will be an economic area with roughly 68 million inhabitants. A proactive exchange with representatives from the Guangdong government and business sector is thus of great interest to Zurich’s economy. The Partnership Agreement between the two regions forms an excellent basis for a regular exchange of that nature.

Government Councillor Carmen Walker Späh meets Mr. MA Xingrui, Governor of Guangdong, in April 2018.
Government Councillor Carmen Walker Späh meets Mr MA Xingrui, Governor of Guangdong, in April 2018.

The Canton of Zurich has had economic contacts with South Korea for many years. This collaboration was formulised on 3rd October, 2018, with the signing of a »Memorandum of Understanding” (MoU). Since then, economic cooperation is being fostered for further development, so as to benefit the growing number of innovative companies in Zurich. 

Seoul is the centre of the Sudogwon metropolitan area. Home to more than 25 million people, it is ranked as the fourth-largest economic area in the world. With the signing of the MoU, the Canton of Zurich wants to open doors within the Korean market for Zurich’s well diversified companies and products. The MoU includes the promotion of cooperation in e-Government, science and innovative technologies, as well as in the areas of culture and tourism.   

Zurich Meets Your City

In recent years, the Canton of Zurich, together with the City of Zurich and Zürich Tourism, has had the opportunity to present itself with the slogan »Zurich meets your City” in various major cities across the globe, collaborating with the University of Zurich, ETH Zurich, Zurich University of the Arts, Zurich University of Applied Sciences and with involvement of the city of Winterthur. The first »Zurich meets …” event was held in London in 2016, followed by Hong Kong in 2017, San Francisco in 2018 and Seoul in 2019. The programmes organised in connection with these events focus on making Zurich known to the local residents as a place for business, science and culture, and highlighting Zurich’s locational appeal.  

Corinne Wyer

Project Manager External Relations

+41 43 259 43 84


Office for Economy - Business and Economic Development Division


Walchestrasse 19
8090 Zürich
Route (Google)


+41 43 259 49 92

Monday to Friday
8 a.m. to 12 a.m.
1.30 p.m. to 5 p.m.




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