MORE Swiss businesses are interested to invest in the Philippines, visiting Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis said.
He said that since the signing of an FTA between the Philippines and European Free Trade Association (EFTA) in 2018, doing business in the Philippines has become “much easier and attractive” than the previous years.
“There is a growing interest by Swiss companies to invest in your country with the free trade agreement between the EFTA families and your country,” Cassis said in his opening statement during his bilateral meeting Thursday in Manila.
Aside from Switzerland, other country-members of EFTA are Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein.
Cassis was in Manila for a one-day visit, the first ever trip of a Swiss federal councilor and foreign minister in the Philippines in 16 years.
Swiss companies have invested around US$3.1 billion (P170 billion) in the Philippines, employing around 28,000 workers, he said.
There are around 60 Swiss-owned or partly-owned businesses in the Philippines, the most notable being Nestlé food and beverage company, Avaloq cloud banking solutions provider, and Cereal Partners Worldwide breakfast cereals maker.
The Swiss foreign minister characterized the bilateral relationship between Manila and Bern as having “deep roots,” noting that the first ever Swiss diplomatic presence in Asia was in Manila in 1862 “primarily for trade.”
“Today, our two countries enjoy excellent bilateral relations,” Cassis said.
Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo said the “strongest ties that bind” the two countries were the people—over 15,000 Filipinos work or live in Switzerland, while 4,000 Swiss nationals made Philippines their second home.
Manalo said they sought the support of Switzerland in “upholding peace, stability and a rules-based international order.”
Before coming to Manila, Casis embarked on a trip to other Asian countries —India, China and South Korea.
The Swiss minister said Switzerland and the Philippines are “like-minded” and both adhere to “rules-based order.”
Switzerland was also instrumental in the peace process in Mindanao, by providing technical expertise in transitional justice and reconciliation.
Cassis vowed to continue this kind of cooperation in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.
“We are also concerned and worried about the many crisis that’s going on,” he said, apparently referring to Ukraine-Russia war and the newest conflict between Israel and Hamas militants in Gaza.
Image credits: AP/Aaron Favila