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Swiss-US agree on vocational training and bio products

Swiss producers of organic goods such as chocolate hope it will become easier to export to the United States Keystone

Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann has wrapped up his five-day trip to the United States by signing a declaration of intent on vocational education and training (VET) with US Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker. 

On Thursday he also signed an agreement of mutual recognition of organic standards with the Deputy Secretary of Agriculture Krysta Harden. 

“Vocational education and training are core principles of the Swiss educational system,” Schneider-Ammann said. 

“They play a major role in ensuring adequate education and job preparation for young people in Switzerland.” 

Switzerland had received quite a lot of international interest in its apprenticeship model, he added. “It is an honour for Switzerland to share its experience with America.” 

The economics ministry said a work programme containing various aspects of the cooperation was currently being developed, including pilot projects in a select number of US states where Swiss affiliates already have a presence. Opportunities were also being explored for traineeships and to improve the comparability and appreciation of qualifications not only for apprentices and students but also for VET trainers and teaching staff. 

Bio demand 

The agreement on the mutual recognition of rules on organic production signed on the same day is also intended to improve market access for Swiss bio-products, such as chocolate, cheese and muesli. 

Schneider-Ammann noted that organic farming had constantly grown in recent years in both Switzerland and the United States, with demand continuing to increase in Switzerland for natural and healthy products. 

However, Swiss producers could not cater for this demand by themselves, therefore Switzerland was dependent on agricultural imports, he said. 

He added that many Swiss bio-producing companies were interested in entering the American market. 

Trade partnership 

Before the declarations were signed, Schneider-Ammann held talks with US government representatives on economic issues, namely the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). 

On the first leg of the trip, the economic and scientific delegation visited the West Coast to promote Switzerland as a destination for education, research and investment, and to promote new partnerships in innovation. 

The United States is Switzerland’s second most important trade partner, with trade volume of over CHF48 billion ($50 billion), and Switzerland is the sixth-largest foreign investor in the US. 

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