Joined by the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), the Philippine Board of Investments (BOI), the Philippine – Swiss Business Council (PSBC), the Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the Swiss – Asian Chamber of Commerce, and Switzerland Global Enterprise (SGE), the event was also organized in preparation for the 4th Joint Economic and Trade Commission (JETC).
Swiss Ambassador Alain Gaschen provided some updates on Swiss – Philippine cooperation in various areas.
“This forum aptly reflects what our two countries have been doing to promote our bilateral economic, trade and investment relations”, Ambassador Gaschen explained.
On clean technology and renewable energy, the Embassy continues to reach out to Swiss companies in the Philippines to promote their efforts, build more awareness in our communities, and renew its commitment to sustainable energy. A session on investment opportunities was also held, with Philippine Department of Energy (DOE) Director Mylene C. Capongcol sharing that the potential lies in upstream development, generation, retail, transmission, and distribution.
With Switzerland having one of the most impressive rail network systems in the world, infrastructure development is a potential area for growth. While there is little exchange of information on possible infrastructure cooperation between Switzerland and the Philippines, the Swiss sees the Build, Build, Build program as a unique opportunity to showcase Swiss innovation. The Embassy with its representation at the Asian Development Bank had initial talks with the Department of Transportation (DOTr), and the forum explored various mechanisms for interested Swiss companies to participate.
The ongoing pandemic has also put investments in the health sector into the spotlight. Swiss pharmaceuticals have played an important role in the government’s fight against Covid-19 and continue to support the distribution of vaccines, life-saving medicines, and other health solutions. In this regard, the Swiss government is continuing its dialogue with DTI, the Department of Health (DOH), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to provide easier access to critical medicines as well as support the campaign in making the Philippines as a clinical trial hub in Southeast Asia.
Aside from these topics, Ambassador Gaschen acknowledged the potential for growth in agriculture, with the belief that fresh and high-quality produce from the Philippines could find a suitable market in Switzerland.
“This is on top of our continuous encouragement of Filipino farmers working on natural ingredients, processed food, and natural fiber and textile sectors to make use of our free trade agreement for easier market access and wider business expansion”, he explained.
Science and technology is also an important element in maintaining economic success, according to the Ambassador. The use of satellite and data analytics for crop insurance, new innovations in mitigating the effects of climate change, energy research, and more research and development in high-value manufacturing industry are just some ways of cooperation.
Besides these areas for growth, the Swiss Ambassador notes that the Philippine-European Free Trade Association Free Trade Agreement (PH – EFTA FTA) is at the heart of its engagement, especially as the Philippines and Switzerland will be celebrating its 65th anniversary of formal diplomatic relations next year. Switzerland has reaffirmed its commitment to the effective implementation of the PH – EFTA FTA so that the full benefits are accorded to all traders, businessmen, and entrepreneurs from EFTA member states and the Philippines.