The Philippines and Switzerland are scheduled to hold the 2nd Joint Economic Commission (JEC) Meeting in Bern, Switzerland on 27-28 April 2016 to strengthen and move forward the two countries’ trade and investment relations.

“Pursuing an enhanced trade relationship with Switzerland is an important component of the government’s strategy to expand our country’s market access and increase investments,” said Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) Secretary Adrian S. Cristobal Jr.

The PH-Swiss JEC serves as a platform for regular dialogue and exchanges between the two countries to discuss specific economic and trade issues, developments in the multilateral and regional fora, and initiatives to facilitate trade as well as achieve greater collaboration among government agencies and the private sector. The agreement establishing the PH-Switzerland JEC was ratified on 19 December 2013 while the 1st meeting of the commission was held in Manila in mid-2014. Cristobal will lead the Philippine delegation in the PH-Swiss JEC meeting to be held in the city of Bern on the last week of April 2016.

Cristobal said the 2nd JEC will focus on the implementation of previous commitments and agreements as well as the country’s proposals to increase cooperation in the areas of tourism, investments, renewable energy, and labor.

“We also look forward to reaffirming our interest to become a part of the Swiss Import Programme (SIPPO) which will complement our domestic initiatives to build the capacity of local exporters and enable them to adhere to stringent standards of the Swiss market,” added Cristobal.

Meanwhile, DTI Undersecretary Nora K. Terrado highlighted the importance of strengthening trade relations with Switzerland as it encourages Swiss companies to further expand their presence in the country. “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 explained.

According to Terrado, the engagement with Switzerland is part of its strategy to increase its trade engagements in the European region. The Philippines’ Europe Strategy includes the country’s participation in the European Union-General Scheme of Preferences Plus (EU-GSP+), pursuit of a possible PH-EU free trade agreement (FTA), and the recent 5th round of negotiations with the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) member states – Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland, and Iceland – for an FTA.

In 2014, Switzerland was the Philippines’ 23rd trading partner (out of 222), 22nd export market (out of 217), and 26th import supplier (out of 182). Major exports of the Philippines to Switzerland are medical instruments, mineral compounds, electrical machines, textiles and apparel and other machinery. Meanwhile, major Swiss exports to the Philippines include watches, pharmaceuticals, agricultural products like cheese and chocolate and non-electric machines.