Screenshot of participants during the business forum

“The Philippines is a prime destination to make investment opportunities happen,” shared Mirko Audemars, CEO of Audemars Group, during the Philippine Business Forum co-organized by the Ticino Industries Association (Associazone Industrie Ticinesi or AITI), the Philippine Embassy – Trade and Investment Section in Bern, and the Board of Investments (BOI) held on 25 November 2021.

Audemars Group was established in 1898 in the Italian-speaking Ticino region of Switzerland. It specializes in the manufacture of micro and nano components for luxury watches (Audemars Piguet, etc.), medical devices (implants, hearing aids, etc.), aerospace and automotive sectors for proprietary applications, and consumer technology products (laser printers, projectors, etc.), with production facilities located in Lugano, Switzerland, Zhongshan, China, and Hong Kong.

“It was very easy for us to do business in the Philippines,” Mirko Audemars added. The Audemars Group opened its production facility, AM Swiss Microtec, in Cebu in 2016 with three Filipino workers. Since then, the company has grown to 170 highly skilled Filipino employees.

“In Asia, Philippine culture is the closest to the European culture,” he said. While referring to the precise handling skills in Cebu especially being the guitar/ukulele capital of the country, the country’s high literacy rate, and young workforce, Audemars also pointed out the Philippine-Switzerland Trainee Agreement that enabled Filipino staff to undergo intensive training and specialization in Switzerland that was key to their operations.

With a theme “Un ponte tra il Ticino e le Filippine / A bridge between Ticino and the Philippines”, the business forum was the first virtual event of the Philippines to reach out to the Ticino business sector in Switzerland. Simultaneous interpretation in Italian and English was provided during the event.

In his opening remarks, Philippine Ambassador to Switzerland, H.E. Denis Lepatan underscored the Philippines and Switzerland’s long-standing and good relations characterized by a robust political dialogue and dynamic trade relationships.

BOI Executive Director Bobby Fondevilla, on the other hand, emphasized the strong relations of both countries, which had been further shored up through a Joint Economic Commission – established in 2013 – as well as the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between the Philippines and the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), wherein Switzerland is a member state.

In 2020, Switzerland ranked as the fourth biggest European trading partner of the Philippines, fourth export market, and ninth top import supplier in Europe with bilateral trade reaching USD771.29-M. Total Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) stock from Switzerland peaked at USD1.7-B in 2019.

Stefano Modenini, Director General of AITI, provided an overview of the association that is comprised of more than 2000 companies and 14 industry associations with a turnover exceeding CHF23 billion. The most important sectors of the Ticino are mechanical electrical and metal industry or MEM (40%), food manufacturing (16%), textile manufacturing (12%), metal and plastic components (8.5%), watch industry (7.4%), chemicals and pharmaceutical (5%), gold refineries (5%), and tobacco (4.7%).

The business forum was moderated by Philippine Honorary Consul Margherita Maffeis-Natale, DTI Commercial Counsellor Magnolia Ashley, and Ms. Simona Galli, AITI Head of External Relations.

The recording of the business forum can be viewed here:

Audemars Group:

Associazione Industrie Ticinesi (AITI):

Date of Release: 09 December 2021