• Published by, 12th Jun 2018 in category Bilateral Relations in English

    The 16th round of human rights dialogue between Switzerland and China took place from 11 to 12 June in Beijing. The discussions, held in confidential session, allowed an open and mutually critical debate to take place on national and international human rights issues. The focus was on the judicial and penal system and minority rights. The priority topics discussed in this year's round of dialogue were the judicial and penal system and the rights of minorities. Switzerland expressed its deep concern over the criminal prosecution of lawyers and human rights defenders and the physical and psychological harassment and mistreatment of their family members. A number of individual cases illustrating these concerns were raised during the discussions. An extensive discussion was held on the death penalty. Women's and disabled people's rights were also discussed. The protection of minority rights in Tibet and Xinjiang were also raised critically. Switzerland specifically stressed the issue of the worsening human rights situation in Xinjiang and the serious human rights violations in 're-education camps' where hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs are detained. The dialogue also covered both countries' engagement at the multilateral level. Switzerland also recalled the mandates of the UN human rights mechanisms, in particular the UN Human Rights Council, and the importance of civil society participation in this and other international bodies.

  • Published by, 30th May 2018 in category Business in English

    Zurich and Geneva are still the world's two most expensive major cities, the annual rankings of 77 metropolitan areas by Swiss bank UBS showed. Egypt's capital Cairo is the cheapest, the survey found. The two Swiss cities beat New York, Oslo and Copenhagen as revealed in UBS's 2018 "Cost of living in cities around the world" survey. Zurich is also the most expensive place in the world to party on Saturday night and it has often been viewed as neck and neck with Geneva cost wise. But, "the biggest difference can be found in services, such as haircuts, an hour of household help, dry cleaning, language classes etc., where Zurich is 20% pricier on average than Geneva," said the survey. UBS based its calculations on a basket of 128 goods and services representing the spending habits of a three-person European family -- with separate data sets including and excluding rent, the single largest cost for most people. Zurich and Geneva topped both data sets, although the difference with basis city New York was greater when rent was excluded. In terms of price levels, Tokyo was the only Asian city in the top 10, coming in sixth, while its earning level ranked 17th and its purchasing power 20th. However, in a subset of data for 11 big cities (including Zurich but not Geneva), UBS looked at where millennials (those born after 1980) would be best off to buy a package of typical must-have goods including an Apple iPhone, a laptop and a Netflix subscription. Expensive Chinese city Hong Kong was the surprise winner for the study authors, but they said Zurich was another surprise.

  • Published by, 29th May 2018 in category Business in English

    Exports of Swiss watches rose nearly 14% year on year in April, trade figures showed, aided by strong demand from prime market Hong Kong. "After a relatively calm March, growth moved ahead strongly in April," the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry said, noting exports for the first four months of the year rose 11% on the same period of 2017 to CHF 6.7 billion (EUR 5.8 billion, USD 6.75 billion). March growth had been tepid at 4.8%, down on January's 12.6% and February's 12.9%. April's recovery of 13.8% saw exports hit 1.76 billion francs, driven by a healthy 43.4% rise in sales – a six-year high – to Hong Kong, a lucrative Asian market hub. Other key markets also saw large rises, with exports to China and the United States clocking up increases of 11% and 12.8% respectively. Europe was a mixed picture with German sales up 12.8% but sliding 14.7% in Britain, continuing a recent trend as the United Kingdom wrestles with Brexit. The global picture has been healthier since a difficult period across 2015 and 2016 saw the sector take a hit after China introduced anti-counterfeiting measures, helping knock back sales of luxury goods.

  • Published by, 28th May 2018 in category Engineering / Manufacturing in English

    Speaking at the “Entrepreneurship in Healthcare: Powering Innovation” event organised by the European Healthcare Distribution Association (GIRP) in Dublin, the CEO of the Swiss multinational pharmaceutical company criticised Europe for lagging “far behind” compared to the US and China in healthcare innovation. “The US leads, China is catching up and Europe is watching. People have not realised yet what is going on here and I am afraid of that,” he warned. Schwan explained that the US was without a doubt ahead of others in healthcare innovation as it has provided a clear regulatory framework which has allowed for an ecosystem of new start-up companies in the field. “Europe is far away from what is happening in the US, not even close. In addition, China has already overtaken Europe and I am concerned that it will be very difficult for Europe, also for inherent reasons as data is so fragmented within Europe and within countries, to catch up.” Roche CEO said that the company was investing a lot in the US not because it does not want to invest in Europe but because it’s just much simpler: there is a regulatory framework that allows investment in these new digital opportunities. “China is also catching up. Chinese are totally committed to innovation. If you are talking to European politicians about innovation […] you don’t know who you will meet next time, if they are still in the government.” On the other hand, he said, in China, they have a long-term strategy to grow and get from low-value industries to high-value industries, with life science and IT some of the key industries they want to develop.

  • Published by, 23rd May 2018 in category Hospitality / Tourism / Retail in English

    Nestlé has launched an app in China it believes can help the country's older consumers follow a healthier diet. The world's largest food maker has teamed up with Chinese electronics group Xiaomi to develop the app into which consumers put information on their weight, blood pressure, sleep and exercise. In return, the app recommends which foods consumers should eat to improve their diet. The app does not push Nestlé-branded products, instead offering recommendations on "non-packaged foods", a spokesperson for Nestlé's China arm said. Dr. Yu Kai of Nestlé's China Research Centre said the ageing of the country's population represents a social challenge. "We need to redefine the difference between chronological and biological age, promote the concept of health regardless of age and improve the diet quality of consumers by using the most advanced Internet technology. Through this approach, we aim to encourage middle and old age groups to shake off the shackles of age and develop better physical and psychological conditions, so that we can have a more sustainable and healthier society," Dr. Kai said.

  • Published by, 21st May 2018 in category Business in English

    Da Hongfei was interviewed by CNN Money during his recent visit to Zurich, Switzerland. In his interview with Martina Fuchs, anchor of CNN Money Switzerland, Hongfei discussed NEO’s relationship with local communities, regulations, the smart economy, and the goals of NEO. When asked about the reasons behind his visit to Switzerland, Da Hongfei said he was coordinating on a couple of projects and visiting universities with quality computer science programs. If NEO sought to expand into the European market, Hongfei conveyed his belief that Zurich is a top competitor, as there are great relationships with mainstream financial institutions. “There is no better place to run a business in [the blockchain industry] than Switzerland,” Hongfei said. On the topic of NEO and Swiss-based partnerships, Da Hongfei stated “there are several ways [NEO] can connect with the local community.” He then went on to say NEO had recently undergone a reorganization, with the NEO Foundation emerging as the overseeing entity of three major subsidiaries: NEO Global Development (NGD), NEO Global Capital (NGC), and Open Blockchain Foundation (OBF). These subsidiaries can foster local relationships in their own unique ways.

  • Published by, 13th May 2018 in category General Interest in English

    The town of Aigle in Switzerland will become the world’s wine capital in 2019. The travelling Concours Mondial de Bruxelles will host its next event there. The choice was announced on the last day of the 2018 competition, when Dai Binbin, Chief of the Haidian district of Beijing, China, solemnly handed over the Concours Mondial wine glass to Frédéric Borloz, the Mayor of Aigle, Switzerland. “After Beijing, the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles is returning to its European origins, choosing Switzerland, where vines have been grown since the Roman Empire. The country ranks 5th worldwide for per capita wine consumption”, commented Baudouin Havaux, Chairman of the Concours Mondial de Bruxelles. “Swiss wines are on the Concours Mondial’s top ten medal list”, he added. “Organising a competition of such magnitude opens up a multitude of doors and provides invaluable visibility, all over the world. Aigle will be proud to host the Brussels World Competition and share the passion of making wine with professionals from around the globe“, commented the Mayor of Aigle Frédéric Borloz. 2019 will be an exceptional year for the Swiss wine industry, as the country will also host the General Meeting of the International Organisation of Vine and Wine (OIV) and the Winegrowers’ Festival(Fête des Vignerons) in Vevey which has taken place once every 25 years since 1797.

  • Published by, 08th May 2018 in category Bilateral Relations in English

    The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs announced the nominations of Swiss Consuls General. Martin Bienz, consul general in Guangzhou, will succeed Didier Boschung in summer 2018. Martin Bienz was born in 1959, place of origin Hasle, canton of Lucerne. He joined the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) in 1981 and was posted to Marseilles, Addis Ababa, Bogotá, Osaka and Ottawa, followed by a secondment to the Federal Department of Justice and Police (FDJP). Mr. Bienz then returned to the FDFA where he was posted to Manila, Karachi and Chicago. He has been the head of post in Mumbai since October 2014. Othmar Hardegger, consul general in Mumbai, will succeed Martin Bienz in summer 2018. Martin Maier, consul general in Ho Chi Minh City, will succeed Othmar Hardegger in summer 2018. Olivier Zehnder, consul general in Shanghai, will succeed Alexander Hoffet in summer 2018. Olivier Zehnder was born in 1966, place of origin Köniz, canton of Bern. He joined the FDFA in 1998 and was posted to Vienna, Brasilia and Bern. Between 2010 and 2013 he was seconded to the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN Office and to the other international organisations in Vienna as deputy permanent representative.

  • Published by, 04th May 2018 in category Engineering / Manufacturing in English

    Bobst, a Swiss company that provides machinery and services to the packaging industry, will open a new production site and Competence Center in Changzhou, China. The new site, a greenfield facility in Changzhou in the Jiangsu province of China, will be dedicated to web-fed printing and converting technologies for flexible materials. The opening of the new plant will mark a major step in the companies next phase of the development of activities for the Asian flexible packaging industry. The new plant will feature the groups highest Bobst manufacturing standards in its delocalized production plants and for the development of gravure printing and lamination solutions for the regions specific requirements and industry practices. The company will also open a Competence Center that will be part of the Bobst Changzhou facility. The center will provide support and advice to Asian clients throughout gravure printing and lamination trial runs.

  • Published by, 03rd May 2018 in category Bank / Finance / Insurance in English

    The Swiss bank —  UBS Group AG UBS — has expressed interest in increasing majority stake in its Chinese securities venture with the submission of application to China’s securities regulator — The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), Bloomberg reported. This move follows CSRC’s lessening restrictions on foreign ownership of brokerages announced earlier this year. Notably, indicating their readiness to allow greater access to global banks into their financial markets, the securities regulator has set the month of June as deadline for foreign companies to increase majority stake to 51% in securities JVs, up from the existing ceiling of 49%. Regarding this, the CSRC detailed the guidelines and experience mandatory for foreign shareholders, last week, along with the scale of businesses which can be recognized. Therefore, to explore opportunities for its investment banking, wealth and asset management operations in China, this Zurich-based bank targets to raise stake to 51%, up from the existing 24.99%.