Tuesday, July 23, 2024

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Switzerland highlights common goals in Phl

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By Marinel E. Peroy 

Nestled at the heart of Europe and envied for their cheese, chocolates and watches, Switzerland has been known as a neutral country in international politics. Still, it maintains its strong bilateral ties with other countries. This includes the Philippines through the establishment of their diplomatic relations in 1957.

During a media briefing last Tuesday night, the Swiss Embassy in Manila shared their key priorities on the Swiss Community, Economy, Peace Process, and Human Rights, respectively.  

According to the embassy, there are 3,829 Swiss nationals in the Philippines. On the other hand, around 60 Swiss companies are located in the Philippines, 28 of which are PEZA-registered generating P19.618 billion in cumulative investments and 8,547 direct jobs. Currently, the Switzerland Embassy has an honorary consulate office in Cebu, and will soon open in Davao. 

Switzerland is also top 4 European destinations for Philippine exports, with Philippine-Switzerland bilateral ties increased by 1.8% in 2023. The landlocked country has also been active in its efforts towards sustainable partnership, vocational and technical skills promotion (together with SwissCham Philippines), and extensive campaigns on innovation. 

In terms of cultural relations, the embassy administers the Swiss Cultural Fund (SCF-PH) which aims to promote Swiss excellence in various fields such as culture, gastronomy, arts, technology, and education. For 2024, activities include the Heidi Bucher exhibit, Day of the Future, and the Swiss Innovation Prize Competition. 

Being at the forefront of innovation, Switzerland has been ranked as the most innovative nation in the WIPO’s Global Innovation Index 2023, securing its 13th consecutive year of epitome as a global leader. 

As part of its foreign policy, Switzerland remains a protector and promoter of human rights, which supported the country in its Bangsamoro peace process. Meanwhile, it is believed that Switzerland hopes to have countries from the ‘global south’ to attend the upcoming Global Peace Summit

Don’t miss the (Swiss) food for thought

Speaking to THEPHILBIZNEWS, Swiss Ambassador to the Philippines Nicolas Brühl described the bilateral relationship between Switzerland and the Philippines as “a common ground”, “interest is growing”, and [both] can do “more”. 

Ambassador Brühl highlighted the importance of public transport. With this, he explained that one of the challenges has been the expenses incurred in traveling, considering that “there are no direct flights” between the two countries. He shared that this can be further explored by both countries.

The envoy also noted that the traffic and congestion in Metro Manila — which he certainly believes can be improved more and make life more relaxed and enjoyable. This resonated with how Switzerland’s mobile flyover bridge is being used amidst road constructions in their country recently. With its usage, traffic jams are being avoided since the roads are still in use, instead of having a total road blockage causing traffic situations in other routes. 

Undoubtedly, Switzerland and the Philippines will continue to share common endeavors and support each other’s initiatives, learning and growing together. Such continued partnership will further strengthen their bilateral relations and contribute to mutual development and prosperity.  

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