Swiss, Japanese leaders agree to explore trade deal upgrade

The meeting with Suga on Saturday was the President’s first official meeting during his stay in Japan. EPA/Franck Robichon/pool - Keystone

Swiss President Guy Parmelin said economic ties were strong and relations between the two countries excellent following his meeting with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga in Tokyo on Saturday.

This content was published on July 24, 2021 - 11:13

Parmelin, who heads the economics ministry, stressed the need to upgrade the 2009 bilateral free trade agreement, notably to improve market access for Switzerland, now that Japan has a trade deal with the European Union. Suga said he was ready to study opportunities to do this.

After delays in talks due to the Covid-19 pandemic, technical discussions will now begin between the Alpine country and its second most important trade partner in Asia.

During the meeting, Parmelin praised Japan for its commitment to the Olympic ideal as host of the Summer Games, which began on Friday. The two men also discussed international cooperation and domestic measures to fight the pandemic. 

While in Tokyo, the Swiss leader also welcomed the opening of a new consulate in Osaka that will house an office of swissnex, the Swiss network for education, research and innovation. The office, which is set to begin operations in 2022, will help promote cooperation between researchers and start-ups in the two countries, according to the president.

Japan is a priority country in Switzerland's foreign policy strategy for 2020-2023.

Cancelled meetings

The meeting with Suga was the President’s first official meeting during his stay in Japan. Parmelin was forced to cancel meetings scheduled on Friday with Emperor Naruhito and the foreign minister Toshimitsu Motegi after technical problems with the Swiss leader’s aircraft delayed his arrival in Tokyo.

Parmelin arrived just in time to attend the opening ceremony of the Games in the Japanese capital.

On Saturday, Parmelin also met Thomas Bach, President of the International Olympic Committee, as well as experts on regional economic issues.

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