Switzerland has accredited an ambassador to ASEAN, the South-East Asian community of states. The Swiss ambassador to Indonesia and Timor-Leste, Bernardino Regazzoni, handed over his accreditation papers to ASEAN General Secretary Dr. Surin Pitsuwan on 4 September 2009.
The ASEAN charter entered into force on 15 December 2008. This charter creates a framework for closer economic integration and calls for the establishment of a regional human rights body. It also endows ASEAN with a legal personality. Moreover it makes possible the accreditation of ambassadors from States which are not members of ASEAN.
The appointment of a Swiss ambassador to ASEAN reflects the increasing political and economic importance of this region for Switzerland, which is one of the most dynamic in the world.
Switzerland's volume of trade with ASEAN has been increasing steadily in recent years and totalled approximately 7.6 billion Swiss francs in 2008. Swiss exports to the same region rose by 6.5% in the same year – well above average Swiss worldwide export growth.
The accreditation of ambassador Regazzoni to ASEAN institutionalises Switzerland's relations to this regional organisation, which has a population of about 550 million persons and represents an economic area with a total domestic product of approx. 1’200 billion Swiss francs.
The members of ASEAN are: Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.
Switzerland, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs, Switzerland accredits an ambassador to ASEAN, 4th September 2009,http://www.eda.admin.ch/eda/en/home/recent/media/single.html?id=28893