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Economics minister on official visit to Spain

Pascal Couchepin sees Spain as a key to Latin America


The economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, begins a two-day official visit to Spain on Monday. It is the first visit to the country by a Swiss government minister since 1997 and comes amid an upsurge in trade between the two nations.

Last year, Spain was Switzerland's ninth largest trading partner, taking in Swiss exports worth SFr3.4 billion ($1.9 billion). This year trade has continued to grow; at the end of August Swiss exports to Spain had increased by 11.2 per cent, while imports from Spain were up by 17.3 per cent.

"Spain has experienced rapid economic growth in recent years," says economics ministry spokesman, Robin Tickle. He adds that Spain is seen as an excellent platform for investing in Latin America.

Couchepin has scheduled visits to Argentina and Chile in November, and his discussions in Spain are expected to help prepare the way.

Switzerland is also keen to improve political ties with Spain, which is now seen as one of the front-ranking members of the European Union.

On the agenda for Couchepin's meetings with Spanish leaders is discussion of Spain's ratification of a series of bilateral accords between Switzerland and the European Union. All EU member states are due to ratify the accords by the middle of next year.

swissinfo with agencies

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