Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann on economic mission to Japan
Bern, 03.07.2014 - From 7 to 11 July Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann is visiting Japan with an economic delegation as part of the celebrations to mark 150 years of diplomatic relations between Japan and Switzerland. The head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER will hold talks with his Japanese colleagues to take stock following the first five years of the free trade agreement between the two countries.
Japan is an important strategic partner for Switzerland in Asia. As Switzerland's fifth largest trading partner (after the EU, USA, China and Hong Kong), it is both a major market for Swiss exports and a supplier of numerous hi-tech components. For this reason, in 2009 Switzerland signed a comprehensive free trade and economic partnership agreement (FTEPA) with Japan. Thanks to this agreement, bilateral trade in industrial goods is totally free from customs duties.
During the economic mission, Mr Schneider-Ammann will attend talks in Tokyo with a number of people, including Akira Amari, Minister for Economic and Fiscal Policy, Yoshimasa Hayashi, Minister for Agriculture, Hakubun Shimomura, Minister for Education, Culture, Sport, Science and Technology, Kazuyoshi Akaba, State Minister of Economy, Trade and Industry and Hiroshi Nakaso, Deputy Governor of the Bank of Japan. In addition to the official talks, there will be meetings with Keidanren, the Japanese Business Federation and with representatives of Swiss companies in Japan. Mr Schneider-Ammann will also open a Business Innovation Forum, which will be attended by representatives from science, economic and innovation promotion circles.
During the second part of the trip, the Swiss delegation will visit the northeastern part of Japan hit by the triple disaster of 11 March 2011 (earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster at Fukushima). Mr Schneider-Ammann will be the first member of the Swiss government to visit the region, including the health centre in the town of Onagawa, which was reconstructed with the help of the Swiss Solidarity fundraising hotline, the Swiss Red Cross and Caritas Switzerland.
The close economic relations between Switzerland and Japan extend beyond the trade in goods alone, which in 2013 was worth CHF 9.7 billion. Businesses in both countries invest considerable amounts in the partner country; in 2012, Swiss investment in Japan amounted to CHF 13.6 billion.
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