Ignazio Cassis visits South East Asia and Pacific region

Press releases, 28.07.2023

Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis will travel to Singapore, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand from 1 to 9 August 2023. The visits to Indonesia and Singapore will centre on the implementation of the Federal Council's South East Asia Strategy. In Australia and New Zealand, the focus will be on global challenges and strengthening bilateral relations. Mr Cassis will also use the trip to meet local Swiss communities in the four countries to mark 1 August celebrations.

The Federal Council adopted the South East Asia Strategy 2023–26 on 15 February 2023. The strategy recognises the growing economic and geopolitical importance of the region and seeks to strengthen bilateral and multilateral relations accordingly. With Singapore and Indonesia, Mr Cassis is visiting two important countries in the region which will play a greater role in Switzerland's future relations with South East Asia.

With Australia and New Zealand, Switzerland has two reliable, like-minded partners in the Pacific region. Australia is a member of the G20 and a key geopolitical player in the Asia-Pacific region. Switzerland maintains close cooperation with New Zealand, particularly in the multilateral framework. Switzerland and New Zealand are celebrating the 60th anniversary of their diplomatic relations in 2023.

Indonesia and Singapore: the economy and science at centre of talks

Mr Cassis will first visit Indonesia, the most populous country in South East Asia. Not least because of its dynamic economy and population size, Indonesia is a partner with high future potential for Switzerland. In 2021, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement between EFTA and Indonesia entered into force. Its implementation will be a central topic at the meeting between Mr Cassis and the minister for foreign affairs, Ms Retno Marsudi. Mr Cassis will also meet with the secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to discuss ways of deepening the partnership between Switzerland and ASEAN.

On 3 August, Mr Cassis will travel on to Singapore, Switzerland's most important economic partner in South East Asia. The talks between Mr Cassis and the minister for foreign affairs, Mr Vivian Balakrishnan, will focus primarily on economic issues. Singapore is also an important partner in Swiss science diplomacy.

Australia and New Zealand: important partners in the Pacific region

On 6 and 7 August, Mr Cassis will visit Australia, where he will meet the minister for foreign affairs, Ms Penny Wong. Bilateral relations were further strengthened with the reopening of the Australian embassy in Bern last year. Australia is a key partner for Switzerland in research and innovation. With his visit, Cassis is sending a clear signal that cooperation in this area is to be further strengthened.

On 8 August, Mr Cassis will travel on to New Zealand. Switzerland and New Zealand maintain close cooperation on global issues, for example in disarmament matters and as members of the Small Advanced Economies Initiative. The 60th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two nations provides an opportunity to reassert and expand this cooperation. In addition to meeting the minister for foreign affairs, Ms Nanaia Mahuta, Mr Cassis will also meet the Acting Minister of Foreign Affairs of Niue, Mona Ainu'u. Switzerland is planning to establish formal relations with this Pacific island, thereby closing a gap in Switzerland's diplomatic relations network.

Meetings with Swiss communities abroad

In addition to political dialogue, the trip will also serve to cultivate contacts with local Swiss communities abroad. The 1 August celebrations in all four countries will provide an opportunity to meet and exchange ideas with Swiss nationals living there.

National councillors Yvone Feri and Thomas Aeschi will accompany Mr Cassis to Australia and New Zealand.

Further information:

South East Asia Strategy 2023-2026
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Indonesia
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Singapore
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Australia
Bilateral relations Switzerland–New Zealand

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs