Memoranda of understanding on closer collaboration between education and research institutions in the two countries and on cooperation in the field of information technology were signed in the presence of President Schneider-Ammann and President Park. President Park also showed a great interest in Switzerland’s dual-track system of vocational education and training, saying that she had been very impressed by what she had seen during her visit to Switzerland in 2014 and that she wished to further develop cooperation in that area.
Both Switzerland and South Korea judge their economic relations to be good, although potential exists for closer trade relations. Since the EFTA-South Korea free trade agreement came into effect ten years ago, trade between the two parties has risen by 60 per cent. Mr Schneider-Ammann stated that Switzerland is interested in updating the free trade agreement. President Park said that South Korea was willing to discuss evaluating the agreement.
Other topics discussed included cooperation in multilateral bodies and the current situation on the Korean peninsula. As a member of the NNSC (Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission in the demilitarised zone), Switzerland helps to implement the 1953 ceasefire agreement. Mr Schneider-Ammann declared Switzerland’s readiness to support all efforts to defuse the situation and establish peace on the Korean peninsula.
State Secretary Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO, also took part in the official talks in Seoul. On Thursday 14 July Mr Schneider-Ammann will open the 3rd Swiss-Korean Life Science Symposium along with the South Korean health minister Chin-youb Chung.
ASEM Summit in Ulaanbaatar
The last stop on the president’s trip to Asia will be the Mongolian capital, Ulaanbaatar, where the 11th ASEM Summit will be held on Friday, 15 July, and Saturday, 16 July.
Switzerland has been a member of this discussion forum since 2012. ASEM has 53 members and holds summits every two years, the venue alternating between Europe and Asia. Bilateral discussions with heads of state and government are due to take place on the fringes of the ASEM Summit in Ulaanbaatar.
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