Switzerland has signed a declaration of intent to strengthen collaboration between the Swiss National Science Foundation and its Japanese counterpart during a meeting between Swiss President Alain Berset and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in Tokyo.
The accord would pave the way for closer bilateral scientific and research projects, the Swiss government said on Thursday. Berset, who also holds the health portfolio, is due to attend a summit on patient safety and aims to hold talks with health ministers of various countries on the fringes of the event.
Official talks between Berset and Abe also explored ways of beefing up the free trade agreement (FTA) in force between the two nations since 2009.
Trade between Switzerland and Japan has grown steadily over the past few years with Swiss exports reaching CHF7.5 billion ($7.8 billion) last year and goods arriving from Japan totalling CHF5.7 billion – a 14.5% annual increase in bilateral trade from 2016.
The FTA appears to have had a more significant impact on attracting Japanese company investments to Switzerland. Direct investments from Japan to Switzerland had languished before the FTA came into force but have since leapt from CHF630 million to CHF5.6 billion.
During the talks, both sides outlined their commitment to help improve ties between Europe and Asia, including participation in China’s Belt and Road Initiative aimed at furthering trade links between the continents.
Berset and Abe also discussed preparations for the 2020 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo at which Switzerland will set up a “House of Switzerland” to showcase the Alpine state.