Reader's Digest > 16 - 29 January 2016

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Reader's Digest, 16  - 29 January

Swiss and Chinese Business Related News in Switzerland and China

BILATERAL RELATIONS

Three New Swiss Visa Application Centers to Open in China to Facilitate Visa Application Process
Published by eda.admin.ch, 23th January 2016
The Embassy of Switzerland in China, in its efforts to facilitate visa application for Switzerland-bound travelers and businesses, is pleased to announce the opening of three new Visa Acceptance Centers (VACs) in the Chinese cities of Chengdu (Sichuan Province), Wuhan (Hubei Province) and Shenyang (Liaoning Province). The new VACs, which will start operations on 29 January and be managed by the Swiss Embassy’s commercial partner TLScontact, are expected to provide increased access and enhanced administrative services, which also include biometric data implementation. Applicants to Switzerland are required to make online appointments at TLScontact’s website and will be accepted on an appointment basis at the centers to submit required documents. The  VACs  are  authorized  by  the  Swiss  Embassy  in  China  to  accept  applications for  short stay  individual  visa (business,  tourism,  ADS  Groups,  family  friends  visit,  medical  treatment, culture and sport ), and provide administrative support services, such as the collection of visa applications  and  return  of  passports  in  sealed  decision  envelopes  to  applicants.  They have no role or influence over the outcome of an application. The decision to issue or refuse a visa or request additional documents is made solely by Swiss competent migration authorities, in accordance with Switzerland’s immigration visa rules and guidelines.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs of PRC Meets President of the Swiss Confederation
Published by china-embassy.org, 22nd January 2016
On 21 January 2016, Vice President Li Yuanchao met with President Johann Schneider-Ammann of the Swiss Confederation when attending the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2016 in Davos, Switzerland. Li Yuanchao firstly conveyed kind greetings from President Xi Jinping and congratulated Johann Schneider-Ammann on taking up the presidency of the Swiss Confederation. Li Yuanchao said that, in recent years, China-Switzerland relations have maintained a sound momentum of vigorous development and practical cooperation in different fields has yielded fruitful results. Switzerland is an important cooperative partner of China in Europe, and China stands ready to make joint efforts with the new Swiss Confederation government to constantly deepen the bilateral friendly cooperative relations featuring equal treatment, mutual benefits and win-win results. It is expected that both sides can further promote political mutual trust, strengthen high-level exchanges, and firmly seize the overall direction of bilateral relations. The two countries should continue fostering the twin engine of 'free trade' and 'finance', and encourage enterprises of both countries to make good use of the preferential treatments stipulated in the China-Switzerland Free Trade Agreement (FTA) in a wider range.

Switzerland Foreign Minister Speaks out on Chinese Relations
Published by China Daily, 16th January 2016
Switzerland is to host an offshore RMB center. In fact, Swiss foreign minister Didier Burkhalter said the current construction of the offshore RMB center in Zurich is a positive and natural step for the internationalization of the RMB. "What happened in Zurich is a very important step for the internationalization of the RMB, and will help the process positively," Burkhalter said. "This is also an important outcome of the financial cooperation between China and Switzerland." The minister also said that Switzerland is playing an increasingly role on the global financial market and has long been a major hub of commodity trading. "As more commodities get traded, the need money to move. If the RMB in Switzerland widens, the context of commodity trading worldwide is facilitated via Switzerland. I think this is also a favorable plus that is drawing towards Switzerland," Burkhalter said. On 14 January, 2016, it was announced that China Construction Bank became the first Chinese bank to receive a license to offer commercial banking services and clear Renminbi transaction in Switzerland, which makes the offshore RMB center in Zurich become operational.

China and Switzerland to Step up Anti-Graft Cooperation
Published by swissinfo.ch, 15th January 2016
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi announced on 15 January that China plans to step up its anti-corruption cooperation with Switzerland. Yi thanked Switzerland for not providing a haven for Chinese criminals. "We have decided to strengthen our cooperation in terms of repatriating corrupt individuals and funds,” Yi told reporters at a press conference in Beijing, accompanied by his Swiss counterpart Didier Burkhalter, who is visiting. In 2014, the Chinese authorities launched a huge offensive against corruption – “Operation Fox Hunt” - to track down and bring home fugitives suspected of financial crime. The anti-graft campaign is mainly aimed at corruption in the ruling Communist party. China reportedly handed lists of targets to countries including the United States, Australia, France, Canada and the United Kingdom. The New York Times last year reported anger in Washington over the “strong-arm tactics” – including intimidation and threats – allegedly being used by Chinese agents to bring fugitives home.
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BUSINESS NEWS

MAS in European and Chinese Business Management
Published by ecbm.uzh.ch, 27th January 2016
Mutual intercultural understanding is of utmost importance when doing business in a globalized world. The MAS in European and Chinese Business Management addresses this well-known fact by offering both theoretical and on the ground knowledge on general management in a Chinese and European context. This program is jointly offered with New Huadu Business School Switzerland, which is the first independently registered overseas campus of a Chinese public business school. Professor Edmund Phelps, Dean of New Huadu Business School, is 2006 Nobel Laureate in Economics. In 2015, New Huadu Business School got nominated as one of the Top 10 Innovative Business Schools in China. The program integrates the curriculum setting of both University of Zurich and New Huadu Business School to offer top level courses on European and Chinese management. 

China: More Free-Trade Zones, More Market Economy
Published by s-ge.com, 26th January 2016
China is gradually expanding its system of free-trade zones. Three new free-trade zones have been added, where the economy will find business-friendly conditions that are largely aligned with the liberal principles of the market economy. The three new free-trade zones: The Tianjin Free-Trade Zone is the first of its kind, where financing leasing plays an important role. However, the focus of attention is on economic promotion and infrastructural expansion in northern China. For this purpose, there is also a special public-private partnership model. The Tianjin FTZ is primarily directed at service companies (trade, financing, logistics), as well as at companies with high-end production in the fields of aerospace, machinery, IT, R&D, and design. The Guangdong Free-Trade Zone is primarily designed to promote trade with Hong Kong and Macao and is mainly directed at companies in the fields of IT, high tech, transport and logistics, finance, tourism, and culture. The Fujian Free-Trade Zone is the first FTZ to introduce a “one-form application” process for simplified company formation, and it is considered to be an important building block in the relaunching of the Maritime Silk Road and an emerging location for the development of innovative new business models.

Sino-Swiss FTA Survey Analysis and Results
Published by cn.swisscham.org, 25th January 2016
SwissCham is delighted to share with you the analysis and results of the Sino-Swiss Free Trade Agreement Survey 2016. The Sino-Swiss FTA entered into force in July 2014. A survey was set up to gain insights into how well the FTA works and gauge Swiss companies’ satisfaction with it in China. Close to a hundred participants from various sectors completed the FTA survey and shared their thoughts and experiences, as well as their ‘practical’ knowledge after one year and a half making use of the FTA.

How Switzerland Beats China in Manufacturing Innovation
Published by forbes.com, 24th January 2016
Switzerland is a tiny European economy known for its financial industry. China is the world’s second largest economy known for its manufacturing. Yet Switzerland beats China in manufacturing innovation, according to a recently released 2015 Bloomberg Innovation Index. Switzerland occupies the first position among fifty countries ranked, while China occupies the 41st position. What can explain Switzerland’s big lead in manufacturing innovation over China? Three things. First is the methodology behind the rankings. Second is the big difference in population, which distorts the figures. Third comes the “regime,” ie the institutions and policies that support manufacturing, as outlined by the Heritage Foundation and Wall Street Journal, which ranks Switzerland 5th in the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom.

The Swiss Stock Market Recovered After China Concerns Eased
Published by nasdaq.com, 19th January 2016
The Swiss stock market bounced back from the losses of the last few days on Tuesday 19 January. The improved mood among investors was attributed to easing concerns over China and a stabilization in oil prices. Although China reported the weakest economic growth in the past 25 years, the result was not as bad as investors feared. Investors are also hopeful for further Chinese stimulus measures. The Swiss Market Index increased 1.54% Tuesday and finished at 8,223.76. The Swiss Leader Index climbed 1.57% and the Swiss Performance Index also gained 1.57%. Cyclical stocks were also among the gainers. Sika and Clariant both climbed 2.3% and ABB added 2.4%. ABB climbed on rumors about a sale of its Power Grid division.

Chinese Bank Becomes First to Open on Swiss Soil
Published by swissinfo.ch, 15th January 2016
Switzerland took an important step toward becoming a renminbi trading hub on Thursday 14 January with its inauguration of a new branch of the China Construction Bank (CCB), one of the biggest financial institutions in the world. The Zurich branch of the CCB has been authorised by China's central bank to operate as a clearing bank for renminbi transactions, helping establish cross-border activity and an offshore centre for the renminbi in Switzerland. The president of the Swiss National Bank, Thomas Jordan, China’s ambassador to Switzerland, Xu Jinghu, and a CCB executive vice president, Pang Xiusheng, were among the more than 200 guests on hand to open the first Chinese bank on Swiss soil. The ceremony in Zurich coincided with a visit by Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter to Beijing, where he took part in a news conference on Friday with his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi to announce China's plans to step up its anti-corruption cooperation with Switzerland.

Sonova Plans Hearing Training Center in Suzhou
Published by China Daily, 15th January 2016
Switzerland's Sonova Group, the world's largest hearing care solutions provider by revenue, plans to build its Asia-Pacific's first hearing training and education center in Suzhou, Jiangsu province. The center will focus on not only product training, but also on diagnosis, recovery and fitting to offer better support to both hearing professionals and those suffering hearing difficulties, said Albert Lim, Sonova's vice-president for Asia Pacific. The center's main focus will be training for practitioners and current professionals in the industry, rather than training people to enter the field, he said, adding that hearing solutions are not one-time transactions. "They require long-term maintenance and good regular follow-up."

Chinese Smartphone Giant ZTE Lands in Swiss Channel
Published by channelnomics.eu, 14th January 2016
Chinese mobile device titan ZTE has appointed its first distribution partner in Switzerland in the shape of Alltron. The distributor assumes exclusive responsibility for channel stockholding and returns management across the country. Despite shipping an estimated 60 million smartphones worldwide in 2015, ZTE is still a "largely unknown manufacturer" in Switzerland, according to a press release issued by Alltron. The distributor will initially take stock of the vendor's Blade series of phones, before other models are added to the linecard in due course. Alltron will supply ZTE technology to both resellers and retailers, as well as telcos Swisscom, Sunrise, and Salt. In a statement translated from the original German, ZTE general manager of mobile terminals for the French and Swiss markets William Chhao, said: "Alltron's professional approach and reliability impressed us."
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CULTURE & SOCIETY

Switzerland's 'Alpine Queen' Expects More Chinese Visitors During Lunar New Year Holiday
Published by xinhuanet.com, 26th January 2016
Recent snowfall in China, even in its warm south, made people very excited, and this gave Swiss tourism agencies more confidence to attract more guests from China, especially with the Chinese New Year vacations approaching. On the streets of Interlaken, one of the most popular tourism destinations in Switzerland, Asians are the most frequently seen groups, and people can easily find Chinese characters with welcoming messages in major shops and hotels. "Traditionally, we don't have so many visitors from Asia, but in the past two years our Asian tourists, especially from China, have increased sharply," Goncalo Costa, a tourism guide in Jungfrau, said. Chinese media estimated that at least six million Chinese tourists have planned to travel abroad during the coming 2016 New Year holidays, which takes place the beginning of next month.
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GENERAL INTEREST

Chengdu IFS Celebrates two Years of Glamorous Success with "International Fashion Walk"
Published by eturbonews.com, 16th January 2016
Marking its second anniversary celebration on 14 January 2016, Chengdu IFS, modeled on Harbor City in Hong Kong, launched the "All IN Here - World Fashion Tour" that unveils the city's latest initiative to be part of the global fashion scene. Organized by the Chengdu municipal government and Jinjiang district government as the key event of the 2015 Jinjiang Shopping Festival, the Tour is seen as a move to help spearhead Chengdu's transformation into an "international shopping paradise" and a "world-class travel destination." With concerted efforts from the governments and chambers of Italy, France and Switzerland as well as the participation of international fashion magazine Elle, the event will connect Chengdu to the world while bringing the delights of fashion and shopping to the city. Officiating at the launch ceremony were Mr. Wen Feng, Deputy Director of Chengdu Business Committee, Mr. Wu Wenhui, Deputy Head of Jinjiang District, Ms. Doreen Lee Yuk Fong, Vice Chairman of the Wharf (Holdings) Limited, and Ms. Christina Hau, General Manager (Operation) of Wharf China Estates Limited. Strong support and warm congratulations were expressed by Mr. Olivier Vaysset, Consul-General of France in Chengdu, Mr. Alessandro Pollio Salimbeni, General Director of Creative Programmes, Tourism and Regional Marketing of Milan, Mr. Rolf Studer, General Manager of the Swiss Chinese Chamber of Commerce in Beijing, and Ms. Chris Hu, Publisher of Elle China.

Lifetrons Gains Dedicated Space at Beijing Airport
Published by dfnionline.com, 12th January 2016
Lifetrons Switzerland has been given a dedicated space within Sunrise Duty Free’s new shop inside Beijing Capital International airport’s terminal three. The 32sqm shop-in-shop will showcase some of the electronics supplier’s main products within the category, surrounded by other travel accessories and electronics brands in-store. The company said it was confident the store will see success in 2016, particularly as China’s large representation at the Olympics in Brazil means travellers will use Beijing airport as a hub. It will also add electronic beauty devices to its listings this year, using the space in Beijing as a “launch-pad” for these products. “It is great opportunity to touch and feel the products—"everything is on display and there for the customer to pick up and hold it in their hands,” Lifetrons creative director Alynn Lutz told DFNIonline. “This is where travellers can test out Lifetrons products while enjoying duty-free shopping in Beijing airport. Beijing is the capital of China and travel is increasing rapidly.”
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INDUSTRIES

Engineering / Manufacturing

ChemChina Buys 12% Stake in Swiss Mercuria
Published by chinapost.com.tw, 19th January 2016
China National Chemical Corp. on Monday 18 January said it had bought a 12% stake in Swiss energy and commodities trader Mercuria, the second overseas investment by the mainland Chinese state giant in a week. The company, also known as ChemChina, said the strategic investment in Mercuria Energy Trading would expand its portfolio, according to a statement posted on its website. Last week, ChemChina said it would buy Germany's KraussMaffei Group, which makes machinery for producing plastics and rubber, for EUR 925 million (USD 1.0 billion). "Through the investment in Mercuria Energy Trading, which has grown rapidly over the last decade, ChemChina will expand further into the energy sector," ChemChina Chairman Ren Jianxin said in the statement. Mercuria, set up 2004, is one of the largest integrated energy and commodity trading companies in the world, according to its website. "An investment by ChemChina in our company reaffirms Mercuria's business model as well as growth potential," Marco Dunand, chief executive officer of Mercuria Energy Group, said in a separate statement.

ABB Signs Scientific Research Cooperation Agreement with HUST
Published by abb.com.cn, 18th January 2016
ABB signed a three-year cooperation framework agreement with Huazhong University of Science & Technology (HUST). Under the terms of the agreement, ABB will provide USD 275’000 to support HUST’s research project to focus on the development of topology and hardware in power electronics. Participants at the signing ceremony included Dr. Qianjin Liu, head of ABB Corporate Research Center China (CRC China) and Chief Technology Officer of ABB (China) Limited, and Mr. Kang Yong, the Dean of School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, HUST. Power electronics is the key to cope with the fast development of distributed generation and controllable load. This research project will help ABB to further increase the accumulation of cutting-edge technologies, design and develop convertors in a smaller size with higher efficiency so as to meet the changing demands and trends of the power market.

Schindler Names China Boss Oetterli CEO, Napoli Becomes Chairman
Published by swissinfo.ch, 16th January 2016
Schindler Holding AG, a maker of elevators, appointed the boss of its Chinese business Thomas Oetterli as chief executive officer as the Swiss company said incumbent Silvio Napoli will replace founding family member Alfred Schindler as chairman. Oetterli, who began work for Schindler in 1994, will assume his new role on 1 April, the Ebikon, Switzerland-based manufacturer said in a statement Friday. Napoli will be proposed for election to the board at the annual shareholders meeting this year, before taking on the role of chairman in 2017. Alfred Schindler will remain available as a board member, the company founded by Robert Schindler in 1874 said. The Schindler-Bonnard family pool owned 70% of the voting rights and 42% of the capital at the end of 2014, according the elevator maker’s annual report.

ChemChina Said to Move Step Closer to Potential Syngenta Deal
Published by swissinfo.ch, 15th January 2016
China National Chemical Corp. moved one step closer to the biggest-ever purchase by a Chinese company after the board of Swiss pesticide and seeds maker Syngenta AG threw its support behind a potential sale, according to people familiar with the matter. Syngenta’s board met this week and voted in favor of pursuing advanced takeover talks, said the people, who asked not to be identified because discussions are private. Their approval could pave the way for a formal agreement to be reached by the Chinese New Year holiday in early February, they said. While negotiations continue, talks could still fall apart and it can’t be ruled out that counter bids appear, they said. ChemChina offered about CHF 470 a share in cash for Syngenta, a person familiar with the matter said last month, which would give the company a market value of about CHF 44 billion (USD 43.8 billion). A Beijing-based spokeswoman for ChemChina said she couldn’t immediately comment, while a spokesman for Syngenta in the U.S. didn’t immediately return phone messages seeking comment.

Helsinn Celebrates its 40th Anniversary
Published by prnewswire.com, 11th January 2016
Helsinn, the Swiss pharmaceutical Group focused on building quality cancer care, is delighted to launch its 40th anniversary celebrations in San Francisco, US, at the time of the JP Morgan 34th Annual Healthcare Conference. Helsinn believes its core values of respect, integrity and quality have underpinned four decades of progress in helping patients enjoy a better quality of life, and is delighted to be able to reaffirm those principles. Helsinn is a privately owned cancer supportive care pharmaceutical group with an extensive portfolio of marketed products and a broad development pipeline. Since 1976, Helsinn has been improving the everyday lives of patients, guided by core family values of respect, integrity and quality, through a unique integrated licensing business model working with long standing partners in pharmaceuticals, medical devices and nutritional supplement products. Helsinn is headquartered in Lugano, Switzerland, with operating subsidiaries in Ireland and the US (Helsinn Therapeutics), a representative office in China, as well as a product presence in about 90 countries globally.
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Bank / Finance / Insurance

Lombard Odier Says PBOC has Ordered Suspension of Funds that Channel Domestic Savings Abroad
Published by scmp.com, 25th January 2016
Geneva’s oldest private bank Lombard Odier’s expansion plan into China has been hit by the People’s Bank of China’s suspension for new offshore product sales, according to the bank’s Asia management. The Swiss bank’s comments is the first confirmation for the widely circulated rumour of a suspension for the Renminbi Qualified Domestic Institutional Investment (RQDII) programme which allows yuan to be channelled into investments outside of China. China’s central bank has yet to release any official statement to confirm that it has ordered the stop via “window guidance”. Vincent Duhamel, head of Asia of Lombard Odier said: “Before, there were more institutions that were trying to create products for clients to diversify, which is why I think the PBOC put a stop to it, because there was so much pressure building up with financial institutions creating products to accommodate the needs of Chinese clients that wanted to diversify on a global basis. The PBOC was trying to figure how to do it with a more systematic and a more orderly fashion.”

Credit Suisse CEO Says He Remains Positive on China, Echoing UBS
Published by yahoo.com, 16th January 2016
Credit Suisse Group AG Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiamsaid he remains positive on China, echoing comments by his counterpart at UBS Group AG, following an equity selloff and a deepening economic slowdown. “I went to China first in 1984 -- anybody who’s been to China in 1984 can only be a China bull,” Thiam, 53, said at a conference in Paris on Tuesday, when addressing an audience including Bank of England Governor Mark Carney and Bundesbank President Jens Weidmann, “Because the transformation is just extraordinary.” Financial firms have been rocked by turbulence in Chinese markets, with plunging equity markets prompting authorities to intervene amid a deepening economic slowdown. Asia’s largest economy has also been hurt by capital outflows and currency volatility as some investors try to profit from gaps between the onshore and offshore yuan rates. The Shanghai Composite Index has dropped about 15% since the beginning of the year. Declining global stock markets have also driven down banks, with Credit Suisse losing 8.7% and UBS down 9.8% in that period.
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Hospitality / Tourism / Retails

Winning with E-commerce: Nestlé China Signs Alibaba Partnership
Published by nestle.com, 19th January 2016
Nestlé has strengthened its global capabilities in e-commerce by signing a partnership with Alibaba in China, to grow online sales, build key brands and offer new products to millions of consumers. Nestlé has introduced products including Nido milk powder, Damak chocolate and Nescafé Dolce Gusto BMW MINI coffee machines on Tmall.com, China’s largest shopping website for brands and retailers. Using Taobao.com, the country’s largest shopping site overall, Nestlé is expanding its distribution in rural areas. Nestlé e-commerce successes to date include the Nespresso online boutique, and the recent global launch of super-premium chocolate brand Cailler using Amazon as the primary retailer. Sebastien Szczepaniak, Vice President of Group Sales and eBusiness, said that Nestlé’s online sales are growing more than 25% per year. “Moreover, offline purchases are increasingly influenced by what we see online, so brand building has gone beyond having good television advertising and nice packaging. Our ability to build brands on any touchpoint, be it digital or analogue, is vital," he said.
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Legal / Trade / Consulting / Services

Fashu Leadership Scholarships to study at University of Zurich
Published cn.swisscham.org, 27th January 2016
University of Zurich (UZH) and New Huadu Business School Switzerland (NBSS) has launched a joint full-time Master program in English starting August 2016 - Master of Advanced Studies in European and Chinese Business Management (MAS-ECBM). Fashu Leadership Scholarship (FLS) is established to foster business relationships between China and Europe with a focus on global business leadership, entrepreneurship and innovation. FLS committee has announced several generous scholarships to SwissCham community. For more information, please visit our website.

Geopolitical Threats Rise as CEO's Global Growth Confidence Falls
Published by pwccn.com, 20th January 2016
Two-thirds of CEOs (66%) see more threats facing their businesses today than three years ago. Just over a quarter (27%) believe global growth will improve over the next 12 months, a decline of 10 points on last year. In addition, findings from PwC's Annual Global CEO survey show only slightly more than a third (35%) are very confident of their own company growth in the coming year, down four points on last year (39%), and even one point below 2013. The results, in PwC's Annual CEO Survey - 'Redefining business success in a changing world' - underline a gloomy outlook for the global economy in the next twelve months. More than 1,400 CEOs were interviewed for the research, which is published today at the opening of the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. China's economic rebalancing, crude oil price falls, and geopolitical security concerns are all impacting an overall increase in uncertainty about the global economy's growth prospects. Globally, only just over a quarter (27%) of CEOs think global growth will improve over the next 12 months, compared to 37% last year, while 23% think it will worsen (2015: 17%).
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