• Published by, 04th Jul 2018 in category Bilateral Relations in English

    The Embassy of Switzerland in China is dedicating for the very first time a full week to Swiss innovation from 2 to 6 of July. With digitalization as its main topic, the Swiss Innovation Week (SIW) 2018 featured a number of interactive events and activities to showcase Switzerland’s outstanding technology-driven creation process, its innovative prowess and related mechanisms, especially the bottom-up model. With the aim to reinforce Switzerland ’s leading position as a location for innovation, the SIW also demonstrated the achievements and potentials of bilateral collaboration in this domain between Switzerland and China. The unprecedented Swiss Innovation Week at the embassy featured concrete projects at full spectrum and covered topics in a wide range of areas that were key in the Sino-Swiss bilateral relations, including finance, science, art, research, education, sustainability, as well as humanitarian efforts. The events was held during the week draw special attention to the latest advancements in the field of digitalization, virtual reality and artificial intelligence. A multitude of formats such as product presentations, interactive display, panel discussions and artistic performances made the topic of digitalization easily accessible to visitors. Swiss institutions participating in the SIW included swissnex China, Switzerland Innovation, the International Committee of the Red Cross, as well as companies like Nestlé, Mercuria, Caran d'Ache, ABB, Wyeth, Adecco, SIGG and Kingnature.

  • Published by, 28th Jun 2018 in category Bank / Finance / Insurance in English

    Switzerland's largest insurer has blown hot and cold in Asia and China in recent years. The insurer's top man in Asia, Jack Howell, has made clear that Zurich is keen to jump back into the mainland China market, a full five years after offloading New China Life. The remarks represent a pledge to remain in Asia, after reports that Zurich was seeking a partial or full exit. Does Zurich view the 2013 sale as a mistake, then? Not exactly, according to Zurich Chairman Michel Liès. “If you have an outstanding portfolio, but you can't establish or deepen contact with your clients, then a sale is an option,” he told Swiss daily Neue Zuercher Zeitung. Zurich has been a quiet acquirer, snapping up Macquarie's retail life insurance protection arm in Australia, MAA Takaful Berhad, a sharia insurance business in Malaysia, and Cover-More, an Australian travel insurer. Last year, Zurich posted a more than 42% drop in pre-tax profit in property and casualty insurance to USD 155 million when reserves from previous years fell away. Its life business hiked profit by more than 73% to USD 132 million. For comparison, Zurich's overall pre-tax profit is USD 3.8 billion. While Howell told the South China Morning Post in January that Zurich would love to get back into China, Liès said that Asia is more than the economic juggernaut. “China is a key part of our strategy in Asia, but it isn't the only market we're looking at.”

  • Published by, 25th Jun 2018 in category Business in English

    Industrial and Commercial Bank of China has opened a branch in Zurich, making it the second major Chinese bank after China Construction Bank to establish a presence in the Zurich financial centre. The branch of Industrial and Commerce Bank of China (ICBC) was officially opened in Zurich on 21 June. In addition to ICBC president Shu Gu and a representative from the China Embassy in Switzerland, Peizhong Chen, other dignitaries to attend the opening included Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer and Swiss National Bank president Thomas Jordan. The business development unit of the Office for Economy and Labour at the Canton of Zurich assisted the bank in establishing its new branch. The move “strengthens the importance of the Zurich financial centre and is a further highlight of the canton’s commitment to promoting trade relations with China,” said Carmen Walker Späh, Head of the Department for Economic Affairs. ICBC is the largest and highest valued bank in the world with over 450,000 employees. The Swiss ICBC branch will be headed by Peichen Chen, who previously served as vice chairman of the bank’s operations in Pakistan. After China Construction Bank (CCB), ICBC is the second Chinese financial institution to establish itself in the Greater Zurich Area. CCB opened a branch in Zurich in October 2015, where it now has around 33 employees.

  • Published by, 20th Jun 2018 in category Engineering / Manufacturing in English

    Clariant AG has opened two new additives facilities in Zhenjiang, China, the Muttenz, Switzerland-based chemicals company announced 20 June. The new facilities, which will be producing synergistic additive solutions AddWorks and micronised waxes Ceridust for plastics, coatings & ink industries, are part of a multi-million-franc investment Clariant announced last year. These will add to the company’s offerings of customised solutions for the plastics, coatings & ink industries. “This completed investment… marks our commitment to expand capability and capacity in China, one of the most important strategic markets for Clariant,” said Christian Kohlpaintner, member of Clariant's executive committee, at the opening ceremony. According to Kohlpaintner, the Swiss chemicals giant is now pursuing “a dedicated strategy” aimed at increasing and sharpening the focus on China. The additional local production capacity in China, said Clariant, will allow to provide “more tailored solutions at shortened lead times”.

  • Published by, 15th Jun 2018 in category Business in English

    The stock market boom boosted personal financial wealth around the globe by 12% last year – to the benefit of Switzerland. It is still the world’s biggest centre for managing offshore wealth at USD 2.3 trillion (CHF 2.3 trillion). Figures revealed in a Boston Consulting Group report published on 14 June put the country ahead of Hong Kong (USD 1.1 trillion) and Singapore (USD 900 billion). The Swiss sum is the equivalent of almost one third of all global overseas wealth. The two Asian centres have grown at yearly rates of 11% and 10% respectively over the past five years, compared with the 3% rate of Switzerland. “Over the next five years, offshore wealth seems likely to continue growing at a (compound annual growth rate) of roughly 5% per year,” the report stated. Large wealth managers including Swiss banks UBS and Credit Suisse are increasingly looking into Asian market because Swiss banking secrecy has been weakened.

  • 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.