Switzerland and the Philippines have good, long-standing relations built on strong political dialogue, dynamic trade relations, and humanitarian aid missions in response to natural disasters.
Bilateral relations Switzerland–Philippines
Key aspects of diplomatic relations
Switzerland and the Philippines established diplomatic relations in 1957 and have engaged in regular political dialogue since 2001. Switzerland supports the Bangsamoro peace process as part of its work to achieve peace and stability.
As well as engaging in bilateral cooperation, Switzerland and the Philippines have also strengthened their relations through their involvement in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Switzerland has been working closely with ASEAN as a sectoral dialogue partner since 2016. The Philippines is one of ASEAN's five founding states, having joined the organisation in 1967.
The Swiss Embassy in Manila is also responsible for Switzerland's relations with the Marshall Islands, Micronesia and the Republic of Palau.
The Philippine Embassy in Switzerland is located in Bern.
Although trade relations are still relatively modest, the Philippines is an increasingly important trading partner for Switzerland in Southeast Asia. Switzerland mainly exports pharmaceuticals, machinery and watches to the Philippines and imports precious stones, machinery and textiles.
Some 60 Swiss companies have created 13,000 jobs in the Philippines.
The Philippines and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Switzerland is a member, entered into a free trade agreement in June 2018.
A joint economic commission was established in June 2013 to strengthen trade between the two countries. The commission meets approximately every two years.
Cooperation in education, research and innovation
The State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) is responsible for implementing Switzerland's international strategy on education, research and innovation.
Researchers who are citizens of the Philippines are eligible to apply for Swiss Government Excellence Scholarships. A trainee exchange agreement is also in place, enabling young people from the Philippines to spend a limited period of time in Switzerland for the purpose of improving their professional and language skills.
Peacebuilding and human security
Switzerland supports a number of projects in the Philippines, in particular in relation to the Bangsamoro peace process, dealing with the past and transitional justice. It also facilitated the restitution of the Marcos assets to the Philippines.
Development cooperation and humanitarian aid
Switzerland, through the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), has provided humanitarian aid in response to a number of natural disasters.
Two regional disaster risk reduction and management specialists have been based in Bangkok since 2013. They are there to support SDC projects in Southeast Asia and the Pacific region and launch rapid responses to natural disasters. The two specialists are also helping ASEAN to step up its disaster risk management and rapid response capabilities.
Other development cooperation projects are carried out on an ad hoc basis.
Swiss nationals in the Philippines
In 2020, 3,460 Swiss citizens were living in the Philippines.
History of bilateral relations
From the middle of the 19th century, significant trade relations developed between Switzerland and the Philippines, which was then a Spanish colony. Switzerland's first consulate in Asia was opened in Manila in 1862 on the initiative of Peter Jenny, an entrepreneur from the canton of Glarus and a member of the National Council.
Switzerland officially recognised the Republic of the Philippines on 4 July 1946. Diplomatic relations were established in 1957.
After the fall of President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, the Federal Council froze the assets held in Swiss banks by the Marcos family. The assets were returned to the Philippine authorities in 2004 upon the conclusion of the legal proceedings.