Philippines – Swiss intent to boost trade and economic ties at JEC
During the 2nd Joint Economic Commission (JEC) dialog to be held on April 27 to 28, 2016 in Bern, Switzerland which will focus on implementing previous commitments and agreements. This year at JEC, the Philippines and Switzerland intend to pursue more solid trade and economic ties.
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 textile and apparel, medical instruments, mineral compounds, electrical machines, and other machinery. While Swiss exports to the Philippines include watches, pharmaceuticals, agriculture products, and non-electric machines.
The Philippine also proposes to raise the levels of cooperation in tourism, investments, renewable energy, and labour.
Trade Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr. said that pursuing an enhanced trade relationship with Switzerland is an important component of the government’s strategy to expand their country’s market access and increase investments.
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.
Cristobal noted that they also look forward to reaffirming their interest to become a part of the Swiss Import Program which will complement their domestic initiatives to build the capacity of local exporters and enable them to adhere to stringent standards of the Swiss market.
Trade Undersecretary Nora Terrado said that 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 that 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.