(12) Our bonds are strong and will continue to grow - Ambassador Ivo Sieber
Category: AMBASSADORS’ FORUM
9 June 2014 - Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines, His Excellency Ivo Sieber was the guest speaker at the recently concluded Ambassador’s Forum held at the Asian Institute of Management, Makati City. His speech focused on the robust relationship between Switzerland and the Philippines.
He first gave a short history of the Swiss-PH relations, which started as early as the 18th century when Swiss missionaries, merchants and explorers reached this archipelago and decided to stay here. Soon after that, Switzerland's very first diplomatic outpost anywhere in the world was established in Binondo, Manila in 1862. The ambassador then went on to describe the strong relationship between the two countries that has spanned for over 150 years, and continue to expand and be strengthened through people-to-people exchanges, and business and economic trade. There are over 60 Swiss companies that have established operations in the country including Nestlé, Holcim, DKSH and SGS. They have a capital of more than USD 2.5 million, and are employing thousands of Filipinos. Total bilateral trade in 2013 was close to CHF 500 million.
Ambassador Sieber shared Switzerland’s advantages that made it fare better than other members of the European Union during the economic downturns and recessions that devastated many countries in the region. Its strategic location and infrastructure allowed Switzerland to be a hub of economic activities in the region. The ambassador also mentioned the following factors for the country's economic stability: competitive tax system and efficient government, good transport infrastructure and connectivity, state-of-the-art financial system, well-trained and plurilingual workforce, good vocational education system, political stability and a high standard of living which the ambassador explained made Switzerland an enjoyable place to work and live in.
The Ambassador also shared his country’s strategy for developing its economy. Despite not having natural resources, Switzerland was able prosper by relying on trade and innovation, opening its markets, and implementng rules-based international trading which increased its capacity to export.
With the growing economic development in the Philippines and in Asia, H.E. Seiber shared Switzerland’s response to this “new reality” – the movement of the center of gravity of economic activities from the Atlantic to the Pacific.
- Signing of an agreement between the Switzerland and the Philippines for the establishment of a Joint Economic Commission, which will serve as a platform for the exchange of information on trade and investments;
- Signing of the Investment Protection Agreement in 1999;
- Signing of an Agreement for the Avoidance of Double Taxation in 2001;
- Ongoing discussion on the Free Trade Agreement between the Philippines and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), composed of Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein; and
- Switzerland's participation in the Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM) in November 2012, and its reaffirmation of its commitment to co-host the ASEM Manila Conference in 2014.
Aside from increasing cultural and economic bonds between the two countries, the Swiss government is also focusing on the political dimension by maintaining close cooperation on issues such as global security, disarmament, human rights, sustainable development, climate change, emergency cooperation and disaster risk reduction.
The Ambassador ended his speech by highlighting the strong bonds between Switzerland and the Philippines.
“Despite the geographic distance that exists between our two countries, the bonds are strong – and they continue to grow. From the Swiss Embassy’s side, we work to contribute to the strengthening of these bonds, which clearly relies on the joint and committed efforts by both our governments, by civil society and the private sector."
Click here to download Ambassador Ivo Sieber's speech.
About the Ambassador's Forum @ AIM
The Ambassadors’ Forum @ AIM is a venue for the professional exchange of knowledge and skills related to international development issues and trends. Its objectives are: (1) to broaden the regional and global perspective of AIM students taking up both the Master in Development Management and the Masters in Business Management, (2) to provide a venue for the exchange of information for foreign ambassadors in Manila, and (3) to educate the community at large on internal relations and development issues and trends as they affect the Philippines and the region. Through the forum, ambassadors and embassy officials have been invited to discuss their countries’ views on Asian issues including political regimes, economics, finance, trade systems, demographics and migration, climate change and energy, strategic security, and world view.
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