Swiss Chamber Conversations with Senator Mark Villar on Bilateral Trade and Economic Cooperation

Posted on February 23, 2023

SwissCham Board of Directors engaged with the Senate Committee on Trade, Commerce, and Entrepreneurship Chairperson, Senator Mark Villar during a working breakfast hosted by His Excellency Alain Gaschen.

The meeting focused on the challenges and opportunities for Swiss investments in the Philippines, exploring cooperation in digital innovation and sustainability, and the President’s recent trip to Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Cancer research: Christine Fajardo (Novartis) discussed the company’s oncology research efforts and encouraged more government programs supporting anti-cancer interventions. Senator Villar echoed the importance of the country’s National Integrated Cancer Control Program and the Universal Health Care Act including the role of Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), among others.

Education and labor market: Nicolas Souvlakis (PMFTC) and Maria Carolina Dominguez (John Clements) shared their observations on the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the Philippine educational system and its potential effect to labor market’s performance. Horia Adrian (Holcim) assured the revival of their Apprenticeship Program to provide young adults with pportunities for professional and technical development.

Economic policies: Members of the Chamber calls for a more transparent and stable regulatory policies to attract foreign investors. Policy inconsistencies may discourage potential investments to the Philippines. On this note, the members request for regular dialogues to strengthen public-private sector collaborations.

Foreign investment: H.E. Alain Gaschen highlighted the potential for cooperation in digital innovation and sustainability, which are focus areas of the Swiss government’s strategy in South Asia and where Swiss private corporations have substantial experience.

For his part, Senator Mark Villar echoed the optimism of the President’s recent international business missions including their participation at WEF, and noted Swiss global expertise on renewable energy, clean technology, and public transport. Senator Villar likewise noted the observations of the business community and will continue to engage with the private sector to push for inclusive development.


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