Singapore and Switzerland enjoy a very close relationship and close collaboration on various topics and in many fields. Today, the Lion City represents Switzerland’s most important trading partner in South-east Asia. The figures seem promising, also for the years ahead.
The trade between Singapore and Switzerland started before Singapore became a British colony. Swiss merchants were sailing to the Far East, bringing their European made goods in exchange for spices and other agricultural products. Overtime, the trade became more sophisticated, other Swiss companies started to offer services in Singapore, ranging from banking to warehousing. The trade flourished further after Second World War with an emphasis on mining from Southeast Asia and processed food from Switzerland. With the free trade agreement between Singapore and the European Free Trade Association, which entered into force in 2003, the trade relationship deepened. Today the total trade between our two countries stands at SGD 14 billion per annum. Whit this amount, Singapore remains Switzerland’s most important export destination in the ASEAN region, with a trade volume of over SGD10 billion (including gold and precious metals) or SGD 5.5 billion (without gold and precious metals).
Over the last century, Swiss companies started using Singapore as their hub to reach Southeast East Asian and North Asian markets. Many Swiss companies established their regional centers in Singapore for distributions and procurement. Today, Singapore hosts over 400 Swiss companies – the largest concentration of Swiss businesses in a single location in Asia. Business activities range from banking to pharmaceutical, food, ICT and the Fintech industry. With this important presence of Swiss companies in Singapore, Switzerland figures among the top 10 investors in Singapore with a stock of SGD 40 billion. What pleases me most is that not only large Swiss companies are present here, but also many small and medium enterprises (SME) have taken foot in the City State. As in Switzerland, SME play an important part in the local economy.
My priority during my tenure as Ambassador in Singapore is to strengthen established ties and enhance cooperation between Singapore and Switzerland in all sectors. The current digital and technological revolutions offer huge opportunities but also challenges for our businesses. While closely collaborating and learning from each other, we can find the best ways to face the challenges ahead for the benefit of our businesses.
SwissCham Singapore, a key pillar of the Swiss presence in Singapore, promotes the close economic relationship between the two nations. I therefore encourage Swiss and local companies, as well as business individuals who wish to do business with Switzerland to join SwissCham and to participate in their manifold activities that include networking and knowledge sharing.