Is the Federal Council not being heard in Japan?
The Federal Council’s efforts to update the Swiss-Japanese FTEPA have not yet led to the opening of talks. The President of the Swiss-Japanese Parliamentary Group, National Councillor Elisabeth Schneider-Schneiter, has aksed the Federal Council to answer the following question:
In December 2017, the Swiss-Japanese Parliamentary Group called on the Federal Council to support an update of the FTEPA with Japan. Since then, Swiss Presidents Alain Berset (April 2018) and Ueli Maurer (June 2019), as well as Federal Councilor Guy Parmelin (July 2019) have travelled to Tokyo.
On 2 September 2019, at the commemoration of the tenth anniversary of the entry into force of the Agreement, State Secretary Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch announced that the Japanese side had not yet given a positive response to the Swiss proposals to modernise the FTEPA.
– Were the trips in vain?
– When will the Joint Committee of the JSFTEPA meet next time?
The answer by Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin was given on Monday, 23 September 2019 in French.
Non-official translation into english:
“The Federal Council is well aware of the need to modernise the 2009 Swiss-Japan Free Trade and Economic Partnership Agreement. We are actively engaged in this direction: both at the technical level within the framework of the meetings of the Joint Committee of the Agreement, and also at the political level during the high-level missions of the members of the Federal Council to Japan.
Japan is an important partner country for Switzerland. We are committed to maintaining and developing our political, economic and scientific relations with this country. The missions of the Federal Councillors referred to in the question have actively contributed to the achievement of this objective. The question of modernizing the Swiss-Japan Free Trade Agreement was discussed during each of the missions mentioned, the last one in July 2019.
The Japanese have of course heard us on this subject and there is a principled interest on the part of Japan to revise certain parts of the agreement. The next step is to set up a technical meeting to identify areas that could be subject to review. We will endeavour to hold this meeting as soon as possible, at the latest in connection with the next ordinary meeting of the Joint Committee of the Agreement scheduled for next year in Japan.”