Philippines, Switzerland strengthen economic cooperation

The Philippines and Switzerland vowed to intensify bilateral economic and political cooperation and partnership during their recent 6th Bilateral Consultations in Manila. The meeting was co-chaired by Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Undersecretary for Policy Evan P. Garcia and Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs Assistant State Secretary for Asia-Pacific, Ambassador Beat Nobs. Participating were DFA Assistant Secretary for European Affairs Maria Zeneida Angara Collinson and Switzerland’s Ambassador to the Philippines Ivo Sieber.

The two parties welcomed the signing of an Agreement on the Establishment of a Joint Economic Commission (JEC). Switzerland has been active in pursuing economic agreements in the Asia-Pacific region, including in the Philippines. With the signing of the Joint Declaration of Cooperation, the Philippines can commence negotiations for a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), composed of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein. The Philippines and Switzerland exchanged views on various areas of common concern, including migration, education, and finance. They agreed on the importance of maritime security, freedom of navigation, and the peaceful resolution in international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

The Philippines thanked Switzerland for being one of the first countries to respond following super-typhoon Yolanda, with a total combined public and private humanitarian assistance amounting to US$49 million. Switzerland reaffirmed its commitment to co-host the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) Manila Conference and Management which will take place in Manila this June. The Conference will be attended by 48 partner countries in the ASEM, the ASEAN Secretariat, and the European Commission. The Philippines agreed to co-host Switzerland’s proposed ASEM on Restitution of Hidden Wealth later this year.

Diplomatic relations between the Philippines and Switzerland were formally established on August 30, 1957, although Swiss presence in the country has been recorded since the 1800s. In 1862, Switzerland established an honorary consulate in Manila, its first diplomatic outpost in Asia. In 2012, bilateral trade stood at US$657 million while Swiss investments in the Philippines amounted to US$290 million. There are about 60 Swiss companies operating in the Philippines today.

The Manila Bulletin, led by its Chairman of the Board of Directors Dr. Emilio T. Yap, President and Publisher Atty. Hermogenes P. Pobre, Executive Vice President Dr. Emilio C. Yap III, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Cris J. Icban Jr., Business Editor Loreto D. Cabañes, Directors, Officers and Employees, Congratulate the Department of Foreign Affairs of the Philippines headed by Secretary Albert F. Del Rosario and the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland headed by Didier Burkhalter, in their efforts in intensifying bilateral economic and political cooperation and partnership of Switzerland  and the Republic of the Philippines. 

 
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