PH, Swiss to boost economic relations

April 24, 2016 8:57 pm

THE Philippines and Switzerland intend to pursue more solid trade and economic ties during the 2nd Joint Economic Commission (JEC) dialog in Bern, Switzerland this week.

This year, the dialog will focus on implementing previous commitments and agreements and the Philippine proposal to raise the levels of cooperation in tourism, investments, renewable energy, and labor. The JEC will be held on April 27 to 28.

“Pursuing an enhanced trade relationship with Switzerland is an important component of the government’s strategy to expand our country’s market access and increase investments,” Trade Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. said.

The Philippines-Switzerland JEC agreement was ratified on December 19, 2013. The first meeting was held in Manila in 2014. Cristobal is leading the Philippine delegation to Bern.

“We also look forward to reaffirming our interest to become a part of the Swiss Import Program which will complement our domestic initiatives to build the capacity of local exporters and enable them to adhere to stringent standards of the Swiss market,” Cristobal noted.

For her part, Trade Undersecretary Nora Terrado said it is important for the country to strengthen its trade relations with Switzerland as it encourages Swiss companies to expand their Philippine presence.

“Bringing more Swiss businesses to the country will increase the significant economic benefits and employment that various Swiss companies such as Roche, Nestle, and SGS, among others, brought to the Philippines,” Terrado said.

Terrado said the agreement with Switzerland is part of DTI’s strategy to increase trade engagements Europe.

The Europe Strategy includes participating in the European Union-General Scheme of Preferences Plus (EU-GSP+), pursuing a possible PH-EU free trade agreement (FTA), and the recent fifth round of negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) for an FTA. EFTA consists of Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland.

In 2014, Switzerland was the Philippines’ 23rd largest trading partner – out of 222 – and 22nd export market (out of 217), and 26th import supplier (out of 182).

Philippine exports to Switzerland include medical instruments, mineral compounds, electrical machines, textiles and apparel, and other machinery. Swiss exports to the Philippines include watches, pharmaceuticals, agriculture products, and non-electric machines.

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