Switzerland deepens ties with Southeast Asia

04 August 2023 13:45

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Bern/Singapore/Jakarta - The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs has reported new momentum in relations with Southeast Asia. An official visit by Federal Councillor Ignazio Cassis to Singapore and Jakarta deepened ties.

Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis met with Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishan during his official visit to Singapore on 4 August. According to a statement from the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA), the talks focused on economic relations between Switzerland and Singapore. This is because, according to the FDFA, more than half of Switzerland's trade with Southeast Asia passes through Singapore and no other Asian country attracts more direct investment from Switzerland. The two politicians discussed the progress of the ongoing negotiations on the proposed digital trade agreement between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and Singapore.

The FDFA continues to write that Singapore is also important for Switzerland in terms of cooperation in the field of science. Cassis is “keen to see this expand even further”.  He said that “one excellent opportunity for this” is through the work of the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator, which Singapore is already involved with. The Federal Councillor visited the local branches of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich and the EHL Hospitality Business School, and learned about activities at Singapore's National Quantum Office.

Cassis' visit to Indonesia took place from 1 to 3 August. He held talks in Jakarta with Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on the implementation of the Economic Partnership Agreement between the EFTA and Indonesia. During his visit, he also met with the Secretary-General of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Kao Him Hourn. As part of its Southeast Asia Strategy 2023-2026, Switzerland aims to consolidate and deepen ties with this growth region. ce/mm

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