SWISS Ambassador Ivo Sieber is proud that his five-year tour of duty in the country has resulted in deeper bilateral relations between Switzerland and the Philippines.
Speaking to the BusinessMirror during the Swiss National Day celebration at the Swatch and Swatch Building in Makati City, Sieber said the excellent relationship between the two countries has been strengthened further over the last few years.
There is a whole lot of multi-cooperation between our two countries. We have also assisted the Philippines in disaster preparedness and on humanitarian laws, Sieber said. He added: There is a trade imbalance but the Philippines is slowly catching up because of its diversified exports to Switzerland.
Sieber said the Philippines’s top exports to Switzerland are in the electronics sector, while they count on pharmaceuticals and machineries as their main export to the country.
The Philippines is Switzerland’s sixth-biggest trading partner in Southeast Asia. There are also 60 Swiss companies operating in the country and employing more than 15,000 Filipino workers.
A Swiss business delegation visited the country last year that looked for possibilities in several industries, including business process management, pharmaceuticals, metal recycling and finance development.
A free-trade agreement (FTA) between the Philippines and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), which includes Switzerland, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, is currently being negotiated.
The Department of Trade and Industry has identified agriculture, electronics, garments and shoes as exports that can be included in the EFTA FTA.
Sieber also noted that there are now 7,000 Swiss who are living in the Philippines, indicating much closer cultural ties between the two countries.
The Philippines and Switzerland started diplomatic relationship in 1862, when the first Swiss consulate was opened in Manila.