Bern, Switzerland – The Second Meeting of the Joint Economic Commission between the Philippines and Switzerland was convened on 27 April. The Meeting was co-chaired by DTI Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado and Ambassador Livia Leu, Head of Bilateral Economic Relations, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research of the Swiss Confederation.

The discussion focused on the recently concluded Free Trade Agreement between the Philippines and the four European Free Trade Association (EFTA) members states (comprising of Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland); the Philippines’ bid to become a priority country for the Swiss Import Promotion Program (SIPPO); regional and multilateral economic issues; the implementation of existing bilateral agreements as well as the perspectives of the private sector in relation to the domestic developments of both countries.

“The JEC between the Philippines and Switzerland fully complements and enhances the PH – EFTA Free Trade Agreement allowing both countries to create an environment conducive for our private sector to seize the benefits,” stated DTI Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado.

Discussion on the PH – EFTA FTA focused on the broader market access of the Philippines in Switzerland through the FTA and the activities proposed to be undertaken as part of the communications plan to promote and advocate the FTA in the Philippines and Switzerland.

To complement the FTA communications plan and maximize utilization of the FTA, the SIPPO program was identified as a tool for PH exporters to be educated on Swiss and European product standards, expansion of business networks and implementation of cooperation projects.

The private sector expressed satisfaction in doing business in the Philippines and welcomed the improvements made in the area of competitiveness, innovation and economic freedom reflected in various global reports.

The meeting also considered possible improvements in existing bilateral agreements to be more attuned to recent developments.

Switzerland is the Philippines’ 25th trading partner with total bilateral trade valued at $556 million. The figure is foreseen to increase with the FTA coupled with trade promotion and cooperation activities under the JEC.

The Philippines – Switzerland JEC is a venue to discuss trade, investment, economic cooperation and related matters to forge closer bilateral trade and investment ties between both countries. It also aims to promote sound business-to-business cooperation.