Calmy-Rey strengthens Swiss ties with Algeria
Foreign Minister Micheline Calmy-Rey has ended a visit to Algiers by signing three accords with the Algerian authorities.
The treaties, signed on Saturday, cover the movement of people, judicial aid in penal matters and the avoidance of double taxation.
In particular, the judicial aid accord promotes a more efficient way of combating organised crime and corruption, and trafficking in weapons, drugs and people.
The Swiss foreign ministry in Bern said the signing of the agreements was to strengthen bilateral ties.
During her stay, Calmy-Rey held talks with her Algerian counterpart, Mohamed Bedjaoui, and the minister in charge of Maghreb and African affairs, Abdelkader Messahel.
She was also received by the Algerian president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Issues discussed during the talks included the fight against money laundering and the financing of terrorism, while economic topics centred on cooperation in management, the promotion of small- and medium-sized enterprises and banking issues.
Switzerland and Algeria have shown interest in promoting economic ties since 1997 when an Swiss-Algerian economic forum was held in the western Swiss city of Lausanne.
Two years later Swiss Economics Minister Joseph Deiss paid an official visit to Algeria.
However, the first exchanges were not enough to prevent hesitation on the part of Swiss investors against a background of a civil war that caused the deaths of 200,000 people, according to official figures.
Of late, Swiss business leaders visited Algeria with Deiss last December and one successful outcome was an order from the Algerian federal railway in March for 64 suburban trains from Stadler Rail.
The contract awarded to the Swiss company is worth about SFr600 million ($497 million) with delivery beginning in the second half of 2008.
Calmy-Rey, who arrived in Algeria on Wednesday, also took part in a regional conference of Swiss ambassadors, spending three days discussing questions concerning migration.
The talks also touched on the problems at several Swiss missions abroad linked with the granting of visas.
The foreign ministry noted that participants felt that there was room for improvement in cooperation between the federal and cantonal authorities.
swissinfo with agencies
The three new bilateral accords between Switzerland and Algeria:
Treaty on movement of people
Treaty on judicial aid in penal matters
Treaty on double taxation
Together with Iran, Algeria is the third-largest supplier of crude oil and oil products to Switzerland.
In 2003, 7% of Swiss imports of crude oil and oil products came from Algeria and Iran, behind Libya (22%) and Nigeria (11%).
In 2004, 96% of exports to Switzerland from Algeria were crude oil and oil products.
In the same year, Switzerland exported goods worth SFr192 million to Algeria, the country's third-largest export market in Africa.
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