The BILATERAL bond between Switzerland and Singapore continues to be strong and dynamic, and there is successful cooperation in multilateral forums as well, which is good in the uncertain times at the moment, said the Swiss Ambassador in Singapore, Fabrice Filliez.
“Swiss-Singapore relations are as good and friendly as ever, it’s just that for the time being we can’t sit together to discuss various topics that keep us busy. Instead, we communicate in digital format, which works well for that purpose but – let’s be honest – it’s not worth the face-to-face meeting, “he told The Business Times in an interview on the occasion of Swiss National Day on August 1.
“However, the Covid-19 pandemic reminds us how interdependent we are. In April 2020, when the Swiss village of Zermatt in solidarity with Singapore projected the Singapore flag on the famous Matterhorn mountain, we had a very positive echo at the highest level: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, his deputy Heng Swee Keat and Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan expressed their gratitude for the movement. We also received many warm reactions from individuals. This serves as an important channel of mutual support and inspiration. “
As globalized countries, Switzerland and Singapore have a great interest in keeping global trade flowing and global supply chains open. To do this wisely, there is a lot of joint work ahead, said the Swiss ambassador.
“At the multilateral level, we have cooperated successfully in New York, where Switzerland and Singapore, together with four other countries, put forward the first UN General Assembly Resolution on Covid-19, which was adopted by consensus. The resolution is a signal signal politics to reaffirm values and solidarity. We are both committed to preserving and re-establishing international order and multilateralism based on rules. As a small country, we are natural partners in many international organizations. “
More recently, Switzerland and Singapore jointly led the “Covax Friends Facility” to promote vaccine multilateralism. This facility is envisioned as a liaison group for like-minded countries to exchange ideas and contribute to their goals.
Switzerland is also pleased with the election of Singapore’s Daren Tang as the new general director of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO), headquartered in Geneva. Switzerland is pleased to have competent and experienced leaders like the head of WIPO, the Swiss envoy said.
Mr Filliez said that there have been many positive developments in Swiss-Singapore bilateral relations over the past year. “One of them is the Fintech Festival in November 2019 where Ms. Daniela Stoffel, Swiss Secretary of State for International Finance, was a panel speaker on the opening day and shared her insights on ‘2020: Policy Options for the Digital Economy’.”
“We are proud of the Swiss Pavilion at the Festival. It is a flagship project for the Asean Swiss Business Hub which is part of our Embassy. With 24 Swiss companies exhibiting together with the Swiss Global Enterprise, we can show the spirit of the Swiss Ecosystem and to provide opportunities for joint innovation, partnerships, and agreement making. Another important event is the Singapore Air Show in February 2020 which was attended by high-level Swiss delegations and many Swiss exhibitors. “
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“Furthermore, we are equally pleased that the Lausanne Hospitality School (EHL) – the No. 1 hospitality school in the world – has received the green light to open an Asia-Pacific branch campus here. EHL Campus (Singapore) plans to send the same Bachelor of Science who recognized globally in the International Hospitality Management degree as EHL Campus Lausanne, helping talented students from Singapore and abroad to build successful hospitality careers while uniting Swiss excellence and Asian improvement.First intake is expected to begin their preparatory year at EHL Lausanne in September 2020 and join the Singapore EHL the following year, “said Mr Filliez.
However, due to the pandemic, unfortunately many important international meetings such as the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, and the St. Gallen Symposium in Switzerland, as well as several major events and exhibitions were postponed.
Importantly, given the close Swiss-Singapore relations, Singapore Airlines continues with three times a week service to Zurich, the Swiss financial center, allowing entrepreneurs and others to travel between the two countries. Swiss Air has returned to Singapore.
Meanwhile, the Swiss Embassy has maintained its operations, implementing all necessary protective measures. Consular relations have become a top priority with embassies providing assistance to Swiss citizens who live in or visit Singapore. “We have a constant and constructive dialogue with the Singaporean Foreign Ministry and are grateful for the spirit of good cooperation,” the Swiss ambassador said.
He hopes that the border will reopen and allow official, business and personal activities to continue. “We hope to foster our bilateral cooperation and support each other in areas of mutual interest such as upholding an rules-based international order, global supply chains and open markets.”
Pandemics have far-reaching consequences outside of Switzerland and Singapore. Unprecedented steps have been taken to safeguard global public health. Economic actors must overcome disruptions and have developed innovative approaches to business continuity. “We live in an unprecedented age and are on a constant learning curve towards a new normal.
“According to the recent IMD World Competitiveness Report, small economies such as Switzerland and Singapore appear to have advantages in terms of resilience in difficult times. In this case, our two countries can look forward to the future with certain sensitivity,” said Mr Filliez.
Singapore is Switzerland’s most important trading partner in Southeast Asia. Both countries have the same economic strength as the services they have, and the financial and banking sectors. With a highly developed industry and infrastructure, Switzerland offers targeted products and services that are consumed and benefited by Singapore, which leads to strong economic ties, for example, in the fields of pharmaceuticals, consumer goods, engineering and chemicals. Singapore itself offers Swiss companies the ideal hub for seeking an in-depth understanding of this diverse region.
“As a cosmopolitan city, Singapore not only serves as a business center for entry into various Asian markets, but also a representative market for introducing new products and brands to consumers. However, Southeast Asia is a growing market with more than 600 million consumers. Economic integration the region under Asean partners will encourage further growth for the benefit of all, “said Mr Filliez.
In addition to building new capabilities, the promotion of classical forms of entrepreneurship is one of the priorities for Switzerland. “In today’s fast changing world, entrepreneurs play an important role in driving growth, innovation, and employment. There is room for Switzerland and Singapore to work together to bring startups and their local companies to the world. There is new space in the ecosystem to encourage collaboration “in entrepreneurship and to participate in innovating towards progressive solutions, thereby strengthening Swiss-Singapore business relations,” he added.
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