Sustainability stories an advantage to penetrate Swiss, Europe markets

Sustainability stories an advantage to penetrate Swiss, Europe markets

IF YOU want your products to gain instant market acceptance in the European market, highlight your sustainability story.

This was the advice of Kent Marjun Primor, commercial attaché of the Embassy of Switzerland, to existing and would-be exporters to Europe, during a recent luncheon meeting hosted by the European Chamber of Commerce in the Philippines (ECCP).

Primor told participants that European businesses are keen on doing business with companies that put a premium on responsible and sustainable trade.

He said there is a higher chance of Filipino products gaining market acceptance and eventually penetrating the European market if their companies embrace sustainability in their operations.

Primor advised attendees to underscore sustainability stories when they market their products such as stories on women’s entrepreneurship, environment and community partnerships.

“These stories sell, and this will be your entry point to gain market acceptance,” he said.

Efta FTA

Primor and Switzerland Ambassador to the Philippines Alain Gaschen were in Cebu last Friday, Oct. 21, 2022, to encourage Cebuano exporters to maximize and increase the country’s trade exchange with Switzerland through the European Free Trade Association (Efta) free trade agreement (FTA).

The Efta States, Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland signed FTA with the Philippines in Bern, Switzerland, on April 28, 2016. The Efta-Philippines FTA entered into force on June 1, 2018, for the Philippines, Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland and on Jan. 1, 2020, for Iceland.

The tariffs cuts most of the US$635 million of merchandise annually. The FTA allows duty-free market access for industry, fishery and agricultural products; liberal export requirements; and cross-border supply of services and movement of natural persons. It also improves market access to renewable energy, information technology-business process management, construction, environmental services, maritime transport and finance. It also allows stable non-discriminatory and transparent investment conditions as well as progressive liberalization of procurement laws and cooperation schemes on intellectual property rights and competition.

Gaschen said trade between the Philippines and Switzerland remains modest with more room for improvement.

He said Swiss companies are now back in business and are now eager to do business in the Philippines.

Primor encouraged the attendees to look at Switzerland as their entry point to sell to the rest of the European countries.

“There really is a big opportunity for both countries to grow trade,” he said, adding that companies wanting to penetrate Switzerland and the rest of the Efta States should also consider getting certifications for their products to gain better market acceptance and position them well in the foreign market.

Business opportunities

Business opportunities arise in the trade of natural ingredients like coconut, calamansi extracts, carrageenan, moringa and turmeric, among others; processed food like dried fruits, frozen fruits and vegetables, fruit purees, muscovado sugar, coconut syrup, nuts, jams; fiber and textile such as silk products, abaca, banana fibers and pineapple fibers; and industrial goods like machines, appliances, electronics, clocks, watches, pieces of jewelry and metals.

Opportunities also abound in e-commerce, rail transport, renewable energy, digital health and financial technology.

But for the Philippines to attract more Swiss investments it has to market itself more on the global stage.

“Awareness is still the key,” said Primor.

Cutting the layer of paperwork, streamlining business processes, and making doing business in the Philippines friendlier could also help in attracting more Swiss investments to the Philippines.

The main exports from the Efta States to the Philippines in 2020 were pharmaceutical products, electric machinery, and clocks and watches, while electronic machinery as well as optical, medical and surgical instruments were the main imports.

The Philippines is Efta’s 43rd largest export partner and 39th import partner for goods.

On Tuesday, Oct. 25, the Embassy of Switzerland in the Philippines identified Manila as one of the four cities worldwide in which they had planned to establish “an antenna” of tourism by the end of 2023. The three other cities include Riyadh (early 2023), Tel Aviv (mid-2023), and Mexico (end of 2023).


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