Reader's Digest > 14 February - 6 March

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Reader's Digest, 14 February - 6 March

Swiss and Chinese Business Related News in Switzerland and China

BILATERAL RELATIONS

China and Switzerland Conduct Human Rights Dialogue
Published by admin.ch, 5th March 2015
From 3 to 4 March 2015, delegations from Switzerland and China met in Bern for the 13th round of their bilateral human rights dialogue. The constructive atmosphere and the confidential framework of the meeting permitted the two sides to conduct an open and critical discussion on different views of the rule of law and criminal justice as well as about international cooperation on human rights and the inclusion of civil society. This round focused on the importance of the rule of law with a special emphasis on the justice and penal system, including the abolition of the death penalty. The talks also covered the two countries' cooperation with the United Nations Human Rights Council and the treaty bodies of the international human rights conventions, the role and importance of including independent civil society in these international mechanisms and the situation with regard to minorities. Switzerland took the opportunity to explain the role of human rights in the economy and underscore the importance of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. With all items on the agenda, concrete situations were addressed and possibilities for exchanges at specialist level were discussed.
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BUSINESS NEWS

Export Feed and Feed Additives into China
Published by sinoptic.ch, 3rd March 2015
Feed and feed additive export into China involves two Chinese government authorities, the Ministry of Agriculture and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China. MOA is the competent registration authority of feed and feed additive products. For the purpose of strengthening the supervision of feed and feed additive imports and ensuring the quality and safety of animal products, MOA has published Decree No. 2 “Regulation on Feed and Feed Additive Import Regulation” in January 2014, which is enforced since 1 July 2014.

Switzerland's IQair Leads New Trend in China's Air Purification System Market
Published by yahoo.com, 2nd March 2015
IQAir's highly recommended air purification system is being increasingly integrated into the design and construction of commercial buildings in China as a growing number of Chinese commercial property developers attach greater importance to enhancing the quality of buildings given the continuous development and improvement of the Chinese real estate market. A newly completed commercial building at Shanghai's Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park recently installed the Perfect 16TM, an air purifying system from Switzerland-based IQAir AG, improving the quality of air within the building. The developer deployed the system on every floor in a move to enhance the living environment across the entire building.
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CULTURE & SOCIETY

Yangzhou Paper Cutting Exhibition in Europe
Published by China Daily, 28th February 2015
During the Chinese Spring Festival, works by the paper cutting master Xiong Chongrong from Yangzhou city made debut in Switzerland and Sweden, showcasing nearly 700 traditional Yangzhou paper cuttings in Europe. Yangzhou is one of the earliest regions where the paper cutting is popular. In the Tang and Song dynasties (AD 618-1279), people used to herald spring by cutting paper. As one of the most representative traditional culture elements, Yangzhou paper-cut is well recognized by people nationwide. The art works displayed in Switzerland and Sweden include one of Xiong’s masterpieces that depicts hundreds of Buddha’s figures. In addition, he cut a picture of a hundred goats, in which there are 120 adorable and lively lambs in either traditional patterns or cartoon images. The goat picture took Xiong a year to complete, according to sources.

The Sinfonieorchester Basel of Switzerland to Visit China Again
Published by sinoptic.ch, 28th February 2015
The year 2015 coincides with the 65th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relationship between China and Switzerland. In order to commemorate this important moment in the history of bilateral relations, Wu Promotion is very honoured to invite the Sinfonieorchester Basel, one of the oldest and three most important orchestras in Switzerland to visit China for the third time in Spring. On 23 and 25 March, headed by the chief conductor Dennis Russell Davis, the orchestra will present classical music audience in Beijing and Shanghai with outstanding performance respectively.
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GENERAL INTEREST

Statistics on Tourist Accommodation in December and Throughout 2014
Published by admin.ch, 25th February 2015
According to final results from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), the number of overnight stays registered in the Swiss hotel industry in 2014 was 35.9 million, representing an increase of 0.9% (+310,000 overnight stays) compared with 2013. Domestic demand amounted to 16.0 million overnight stays (+137,000 units / +0.9%) - a level that had not been seen since the early 1990s. Foreign visitors recorded 19.9 million overnight stays, representing a growth of 0.9% (+173,000 units). For December 2014, overnight stays posted an increase of 4.5% (+111,000 units). During 2014, overnight stays registered by domestic visitors saw an increase of 137,000 units (+0.9%) compared with 2013. With regard to foreign visitors, those from the Asian continent posted a marked increase of 361,000 overnight stays (+9.9%) compared to 2013. This result is a new record on behalf of Asian clients. The Gulf States generated 148,000 additional overnight stays (+23.7%), which was the greatest absolute increase of all countries. Similarly, China (excluding Hong Kong) registered an increase of 140,000 overnight stays (+15.6%), reaching the million mark for the first time.

Swiss Hotel Schools Find New Ways to Attract Students
Published by Anand Chandrasekhar, swissinfo.ch, 24th February 2015
Despite the hefty price tag, Swiss hotel schools continue to attract students from around the world. To stay attractive, it is not just tradition and reputation they’re selling but access to a much broader job market. “In a classroom of 30 to 40 students you could have up to 25 different nationalities. Asia, especially China is growing and other nationalities on the rise include India, Brazil, Russia, Thailand and Mexico,” says Fabienne Rollandin of the Glion hotel school. However, the strong Swiss franc and emergence of more affordable rival hotel schools in high-growth regions like Asia could pose a threat to Swiss dominance.
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INDUSTRIES

Engineering / Manufacturing

France's Lafarge to Buy out 45% of Chinese Subsidiary
Published by shanghaidaily.com, 3rd March 2015
French leading building material company, Lafarge, signed an accord to buy a 45% stake in its Chinese subsidiary Lafarge Shui On Cement held by SOCAM Development Limited, the company said on Tuesday. Under the agreement, the French group, already owner of 55% stake of Lafarge Shui On Cement, offered EUR 294 million (USD 328 million) to have its full stake. The production capacity of Lafarge Shui On Cement stands at 32 million tonnes in Southwest China, in the provinces of Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou and Chongqing Municipality, according to Lafarge. In a statement, the French company added the deal is subject to the successful completion of the merger with Swiss company, Holcim, and to shareholders' approval of the Hong Kong-based investment holding company.

Sonova to Move 100 Jobs Out of Switzerland, Freeze Local Wages
Published by swissinfo.ch, 2nd March 2015
Sonova Holding AG, a Swiss hearing-aid maker, is freezing domestic salaries and moving about 100 assembly jobs away from Switzerland as the strong franc increases costs. Sonova plans to gradually transfer some production to the U.K. and China, the Staefa-based company said in a statement Monday. Management and employees in its home country will have salaries frozen for 2015, Sonova also said. “This strategic move will ensure our continued strong cost competitiveness and support the long-term strength and continued profitable growth of Sonova,” Chief Executive Officer Lukas Braunschweiler said in the statement.
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Bank / Finance / Insurance

Swiss Re Cuts Dividend as Fourth-Quarter Profit Misses Estimates
Published by swissinfo.ch, 19th February 2015
Swiss Re AG, the world’s second-biggest reinsurer, lowered its dividend payout to investors after fourth-quarter profit declined 80% on charges related to the restructuring of the U.S. business. The Zurich-based company plans to pay shareholders a dividend of CHF 4.25 (USD 4.52) a share, up from CHF 3.85 distributed for 2013, it said in a statement Thursday. On top of that, it proposed a special dividend of 3 francs, down from 4.15 francs a year ago. In addition, Swiss Re plans to buy back CHF 1 billion of its shares by the 2016 shareholder meeting. Swiss Re, led by Chief Executive Officer Michel Lies, is cutting back coverage of catastrophes like hurricanes and earthquakes amid a decline in the incidence of natural disasters that has undercut prices. In a quest for alternative sources of revenue, it is ramping up new lines of business, such as corporate insurance and coverage in Asia, to bolster earnings eroded by low interest rates. It is also expanding in markets including China, where in July it agreed to acquire Sun Alliance Insurance (China) Ltd.
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Hospitality / Tourism / Retails

Nestle Adds High-End Snacks as Chinese Consumers Opt for Premium
Published by swissinfo.ch, 19th February 2015
Nestle SA is revamping foods and beverages in China such as chocolate and coffee after sales there stagnated last year because younger consumers are increasingly opting for higher-end and more nutritious items. Revenue from the greater China region was little changed at CHF 6.64 billion (USD 7 billion) last year, the Switzerland-based company said on 19 February. Demand for traditional products such as Hsu Fu Chi biscuits and Yinlu peanut-milk beverages waned, according to Nandu Nandkishore, Nestle’s head of Asia, Oceania and Africa. “People born after 1980 are born in single-child households and have been living a life of relative abundance,” Nandkishore said in an interview in Vevey. “They’re making choices that are much more premium and have nutrition, health and wellness arguments.”

Luxury Labels Embrace "New Normal" As Chinese Market Shrinks
Published by China Daily, 25th February 2015
Nothing could stop Chinese holidaymakers from taking overseas luxury shopping trips this Spring Festival, and no one could stop the souring romance between global luxury brands and the Chinese market. China's luxury market has experienced a negative trend for the first time after eight years of consecutive growth, according to consulting firm Bain & Co's 2014 China Luxury Market Study, which was released in January. Growth of luxury goods on the Chinese mainland was down 1% to RMB 115 billion (USD 18.7 billion) in 2014, with watches, men's wear, and luggage and bags being hardest hit, the study showed. Sales of Swiss luxury giant Richemont dropped 4% in the third quarter of 2014, an epitome of the poor performances of some prestigious names including Montblanc, Rolex, Armani and Ferrari.

Swatch & Art From the Dunkel Collection at Sotheby’s Hong Kong
Published by yareah.com, 23rd February 2015
This spring, Sotheby’s Hong Kong is delighted to present Swatch & Art from the Dunkel Collection, one of the world’s largest Swatch collections in private hands ever known (estimate upon request). Comprising more than 5,800 elements collected over 25 years by Mr Paul Dunkel, a passionate European collector, this superlot encompasses exclusive prototypes, limited and special edition Swatch watches from 1983 to 2007, and collected artwork relating to Swatch designs. Swatch & Art from the Dunkel Collection will lead the Important Watches Spring Sale taking place on 7 April at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre. Mr Paul Dunkel, owner of the Collection, says, “Collecting both the Swatch and the artworks is like having an intriguing marriage that works perfectly well, affording people the luxury of admiring art objects on their wrists. What I enjoy the most about Swatch is that everybody can relate to it: regardless of age, origin, colour, culture, job and taste, most of us have had a Swatch in our lives. Over the years I have built an encyclopedic collection comprising nearly every model of Swatch produced in their first 25 years. I would like to thank Sotheby’s for the opportunity to share them with the world and I am looking forward to passing the legacy on to the next owner.”
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Legal / Trade / Consulting / Services

Cross-Border RMB Cash Pooling Made Possible for Multinational Corporations in China
Published by pwccn.com, 28th February 2015
In early 2014, China launched a pilot program to enable cross-border RMB cash pooling in the Shanghai Pilot Free Trade Zone. Many domestic and foreign-invested multinational corporations (MNCs) joined the pilot program and provided positive feedbacks. The cross-border RMB cash pooling mechanism allows MNCs more channels to recoup RMB back to mainland China, while at the same time better centralise and manage their treasury and cash management globally, thereby achieving savings in financing costs at the group's level. In June 2014, in response to the call of the State Council, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) proposed to expand cross-border RMB cash pooling operations nationwide to enhance the centralised RMB cash management of MNCs.

A Further Positive ICC Arbitral Award in Hong Kong
Published by wenfei.com, 23rd February 2015
In an ICC arbitration with seat in Hong Kong, Wenfei Law has once more achieved a positive outcome for its client, a Swiss manufacturing company with a strong presence in China. In the arbitral award, the counterparty – a major Chinese manufacturer – has been ordered to pay RMB 12.8 million in damages in compensation for a breach of contract. This case adds to the existing expertise that Wenfei Law has acquired over the years with respect to China-related ICC arbitration proceedings in Hong Kong.
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Disclaimer: SwissCham's Reader's Digest is a bi-weekly publication. Editorial, advertising and news published in the Reader's Digest are for advertisement and/or information purposes only and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in China, of its Board, its members or its staff. SwissCham therefore rejects any liability related to the accuracy of and/or views reflected in the newsletters.