Photo) Ambassador Leslie J. Baja with Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio,
Assistant Secretary Elizabeth Buensuceso and Swiss Assistant State
Secretary Beat Nobs, Head of the Swiss delegation
(Right Photo) The meeting was held at the Bernerhof in Berne
PHL-Swiss consultations intensifies ties
in 150th year of relations
The 5th bilateral Political Consultations between the Philippines and
Switzerland were held in Berne on 6 February 2012 as the two countries
commemorate this year the 150th anniversary of the establishment in
Manila of the first Swiss consulate in Asia in 1862.
Foreign Affairs Undersecretary Erlinda Basilio headed the Philippine
delegation while Swiss Assistant State Secretary Beat Nobs led the
Swiss side. Both delegations highlighted the shared values of
democracy and human rights and agreed to intensify economic relations
through the establishment of a Joint Economic Commission and the
possibility of entering into a Free Trade Agreement with the European
Free Trade Area (EFTA). A trade and investment mission is also
being planned for 2013.
Undersecretary Basilio noted the healthy and excellent relations
between the Philippines and Switzerland. In 2011, Switzerland was
the 10th largest export market for the Philippines in Europe with total
first semester trade of USD277.3 million, the balance of which is on
the PHL side. There are about 60 Swiss companies in the
Philippines with total investments valued at around USD2 billion.
Switzerland was also the 4th biggest source of inbound tourists from
Europe in 2011.
Undersecretary Basilio thanked the Swiss side for its humanitarian
assistance to the Philippines last December in the aftermath of
Tropical Storm Washi. Switzerland gave Swiss Francs 300,000 to
aid in the recovery and rehabilitation of storm ravaged areas in
Cagayan de Oro and Iligan. It also sent 6 water experts to the
region to help restore clean water service to the affected
population. The Philippines presented a project proposal to the
Swiss side that would help the Philippines in disaster risk reduction
In order to increase people to people contact, both sides agreed to
intensify the promotion of the bilateral agreement on the exchange of
professional and technical trainees which allows citizens of the two
countries to work in the Philippines and Switzerland for a period of 18
months. There are approximately 10,000 Filipinos in Switzerland
mainly working in the healthcare sector.
Assistant State Secretary Nobs thanked Undersecretary Basilio for the
active cooperation between Switzerland and the Philippines in the
multilateral arena and sought to further increase relations in the
field of good governance, human rights and UN reform.
Undersecretary Basilio thanked Switzerland for its support for the
successful candidature of Senator Miriam Defensor Santiago to the
International Criminal Court.
The next bilateral consultations will be held in Manila in 2014.