New momentum in South East Asia ties: Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis visits Indonesia and Singapore

Press releases, 04.08.2023

During his official visit to Indonesia and Singapore, Mr Cassis took part in a number of high-level talks focusing on the priorities of the Federal Council's South East Asia Strategy to deepen ties with this important economic region. On 5 August, Mr Cassis will travel on to Australia and New Zealand.

Mr Cassis met today with Singapore's foreign minister, Vivian Balakrishnan. Talks focused on economic relations between the two countries: Singapore processes more than half of Switzerland's overall trade with South East Asia and attracts more Swiss direct investment than any other Asian country. The two foreign ministers also discussed the progress of the ongoing negotiations on the proposed digital trade agreement between Singapore and EFTA.

Singapore is a key partner for Switzerland in its capacity as a leading location for science. Thus, Mr Cassis visited the regional hubs of the ETH Zurich and the EHL Hospitality Business School as well as the country's National Quantum Office during his trip, stating that "as highly innovative countries, Switzerland and Singapore can learn a lot from each other. I am delighted with our close cooperation in the field of science, and am keen to see this expand even further. One excellent opportunity for this is through the work of the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA), which Singapore is already involved with."

Economic opportunities in Indonesia

Mr Cassis' visit to Indonesia took place from 1 to 3 August. In the capital city Jakarta, he held talks with the country's foreign minister, Retno Marsudi, including an exchange on the implementation of the EFTA-Indonesian Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement, which entered into force in 2021. Both sides are also hoping for new momentum in the economic sphere through the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement, signed in 2022.

"Indonesia's dynamic economy is also interesting for Swiss companies that may be able to make a significant contribution to further development in the country," said Cassis.

In Jakarta, Mr Cassis also met with the secretary-general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Kao Kim Hourn. Switzerland has maintained a sectoral dialogue partnership with ASEAN since 2016. It is seen as the most important international organisation in the entire Asia-Pacific region. The dialogue partnership gives Switzerland a greater platform to promote its interests in South East Asia, including at multilateral level.

Mr Cassis' visit to Singapore and Indonesia is tied to the Federal Council's new South East Asia Strategy 2023–26, which envisages consolidating and deepening ties with the world's fastest growing region.

On 5 August, Mr Cassis will travel on to Australia and New Zealand.

Further information:

South East Asia Strategy 2023-2026
Bilateral relations Switzerland-Indonesia
Bilateral relations Switzerland-Singapore
Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)

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Federal Department of Foreign Affairs