Reader's Digest > 16 July - 29 July

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Reader's Digest, 16 - 29 July

Swiss and Chinese Business Related News in Switzerland and China


Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer at G20 Ministerial Meeting in Chengdu, China
Published by, 22nd July 2016
Federal Councillor Ueli Maurer, together with Thomas Jordan, Chairman of the Governing Board of the Swiss National Bank, took part in the meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors in Chengdu, China, on 23 and 24 July 2016. The key topics at the meeting included the global economic outlook, the situation on the financial markets and international tax policy. The third meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors under the Chinese G20 presidency was held in Chengdu. In terms of economic policy priorities, the Swiss delegation pointed out the importance of structural reforms for boosting economic growth, whereas the focus of fiscal policy should be on healthy public finances, especially given the current volatile situation. Also, the burden carried by monetary policy is already significant. From Switzerland's perspective, the key reforms concerning financial market regulation, such as the "Basel III" rules for banks, need to be implemented systematically worldwide. International efforts should remain focused on the relevant risks and not lead to over-regulation.

State Secretary Jörg Gasser on Working Visit to Singapore and Hong Kong
Published by, 15th July 2016
On 13 and 14 July, the State Secretary for International Financial Matters Jörg Gasser met his counterparts from the finance ministry and representatives of the supervisory authorities in Singapore and Hong Kong. The talks focused on the global financial market environment and cooperation on bilateral and multilateral tax and financial issues. The optimum framework conditions for supporting innovation in the financial sector and the importance of a level playing field when implementing international standards in the area of taxation were also discussed. During his trip to Asia, Jörg Gasser met his counterpart in Hong Kong, Professor KC Chan, Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury. This meeting also dealt with general financial and tax matters. Switzerland maintains very good relations with the two Asian financial centres and regularly meets with the heads of the financial authorities.
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Importance of E-Commerce in China on the Rise
Published by, 25th July 2016
The Asia-Pacific region is soon set to overtake North America with regard to online trade, and China stands out in particular. The size of the population, rising incomes and growing IT knowledge, as well as promotional programs run by the government are all contributing to high demand. Even back in 2012 around 90% of electronic products in China were procured via purchase sales platforms. Over the past year online sales have amounted to approximately 2.9 billion US dollars. The government is fostering the development of e-commerce through various programs, but in doing so they are focusing primarily on the promotion of their own export industry (around 83% of sales are down to online export, with 17% online import) and aiming to press ahead with cross-border e-commerce. Chinese consumers have enormous trust in Swiss products in particular, which stand for quality and safety. Food producers in particular are able to benefit from this, as the example of baby food shows. In 2008 the share of baby food in Chinese online retail was 0.2%, but that was before the milk scandal. In 2014 the share had already increased to 12%.

EurAsia Info Summit: B2B Precision Manufacturing Matchmaking
Published by, 20th July 2016
The EurAsia Info Summit 2016 in Davos (Switzerland), focusing on B2B Precision Manufacturing Matchmaking, will take place in Technopark Zürich from 30 October to 1 November 2016. It is supported by many officials, Chinese municipal governments and several associations. The summit has been initiated by EurAsia Info in Switzerland and will be hosted jointly with the World Association of Chinese Mass Media , Your Travel China Connect AG , Brugger und Partner AG and others. The meetings in Technopark Zürich are organized in cooperation with the Swiss-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. Switzerland is a unique country famous for its economy and financial industry as well as its natural beauty. Innovation and pragmatism enable this tiny European country to be at the forefront of developed countries worldwide and to maintain its strong stable economical and financial position. Swiss precision manufacturing industry is perceived as “superior quality” by Chinese consumers. The production scale of these top brand companies is not large, however, their products are irreplaceable. As Chinese people have a strong preference for Swiss quality,  the industrial and trade structures of the two countries can complement each other. Our summit will help the two sides to realize further mutual benefits and a win-win cooperation.
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Swiss Military Band Plays in Asia
Published by, 22nd July 2016
In 2016 the Swiss Confederation celebrates its 725th National Day which will be honoured by Swiss nationals living in Asia as well. At the initiative of the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and the Chief of the Armed Forces, Lieutenant General André Blattman, an ensemble consisting of 14 musicians from the Swiss Military Band will provide the musical background for the festivities at embassies in Seoul (South Korea), Beijing (China), Manila (Philippines) and Singapore. From 23 July to 9 August 2016 the festivities to celebrate the Swiss National Day and the centenary of the Organization of the Swiss Abroad at four Swiss embassies in Asia and among Swiss nationals living in South Korea, China, the Philippines and Singapore will receive a military and musical accompaniment. A special ensemble of the Swiss Military Band will perform anthems, songs, folk music and traditional musical works from Switzerland.
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Swiss Watch Exports Collapse
Published by, 25th July 2016
Swiss watch exports fell 16% year-on-year in June 2016, logging the highest ever drop according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. China and Hong Kong, two of the world’s largest markets for the luxury watches, lost the most since a financial crisis in China started in mid-2015. Hong Kong reported a steep downturn for the 17th consecutive month, while China showed some signs of recovery in June. The performance in the United States was better than average but Europe also lost, especially Italy, Germany, France and the U.K. Persistent terror attacks in Europe are scaring away tourists, also from China. Precious metal watches were the worst performers with more than a 30% decline. Steel or bimetal timepieces were less affected but still fell.
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Engineering / Manufacturing

Sonova Hears China's Message Loud and Clear
Published by China Daily, 25th July 2016
More than half of an estimated 60 million Chinese people with hearing problems are inclined to use aids as long as they are "invisible"-that is, not easily noticeable, something that can fit snugly into an ear, like in the case of television news reporters and anchors. Led by Albert Lim, a Singaporean, Sonova's Asia-Pacific, the world's leading provider of hearing solutions, has taken upon itself the challenge of meeting this need. As senior vice-president of Sonova's Asia-Pacific region, Lim travels to China frequently, and has been overseeing the company's efforts to develop and produce customized "made-in-China" products for Chinese customers. What's more, Sonova's new products will also make it easier to hear and understand the Chinese tonal language. Switzerland-based technicians of Sonova are burning the midnight oil towards this goal within a year. Their customized designs will factor in the customer's ear shape and its peculiar parts. Using 3D printing technology, hearing aids will then be created at Sonova's factory in Shanghai with high precision, delivering better hearing quality.

Syngenta Expects ChemChina Deal to Close
Published by China Daily, 23rd July 2016
Syngenta AG, which has agreed to be taken over by China National Chemical Corp for USD 43 billion, said talks with US regulatory authorities to win approval for the deal have been constructive and the Swiss company is confident the transaction can be closed on time. Talks with the Committee on Foreign Investment (CFIUS) in the US are ongoing and the goal remains to complete the deal by year end, CEO Erik Fyrwald said in a phone interview on Friday with Bloomberg News. Political developments surrounding the forthcoming US election are a "completely separate issue" to the CFIUS review, Fyrwald said. Accepting the Republican Party's nomination on Thursday, Donald Trump accused China of manipulating its currency to distort trade, and vowed to renegotiate trade deals with the nation should he win. Basel, Switzerland-based Syngenta on Friday reported a 12% decline in first-half earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization to USD 1.77 billion, lower than an average of USD 1.91 billion predicted by analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Sales fell 7% to USD 7.1 billion.
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Bank / Finance / Insurance

UBS Sees Chinese Going-Global Groups as Good Investments
Published by, 28th July 2016
China's companies with going-global strategies are likely to present good investment opportunities and will be one of the major investment themes in the second half of 2016, according to Gao Ting, head of China strategy at UBS Securities. Sharing his outlook for the second half of 2016 on Wednesday, Gao said: "Generally speaking foreign investments in China and China's investments in other countries are at a similar level, which shows that the size of China's overseas investments is getting greater." Differing from previous investments of Chinese enterprises that focused on resources and energies, recent programs by private enterprises mainly focus on consumption-driven sectors, such as tourism, which will meet the demands of fast-growing numbers of outbound tourists. They also now emphasize internet-based technologies with a great number of domestic users, according to research data of UBS Securities.

WisdomTree and ICBC Credit Suisse Enter Global Product Partnership on S&P China 500 Index
Published by, 21st July 2016
WisdomTree Investments, Inc., an exchange-traded fund ("ETF") and exchange-traded product ("ETP") sponsor and ICBC Credit Suisse Asset Management (International) Company Limited ("ICBCCS"), today announced a global product partnership to launch ETFs that track the S&P China 500 Index. The S&P China 500 Index, launched in 2015, is comprised of five hundred of the largest, most liquid Chinese companies while approximating the sector composition of the broader Chinese equity market. All Chinese share classes, including A-shares and offshore listings, are eligible for inclusion. WisdomTree and ICBCCS have agreed to a global product partnership in which the companies can jointly launch, market and distribute ETFs tracking the S&P China 500 Index around the world. A Luxembourg UCITS ETF listed in Europe will mark the first product in this collaboration.  Future products may include ETFs listed in the United States and Asian markets.
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Hospitality / Tourism / Retails

Meager Beginnings Transformed into Fortune for Foreign Entrepreneurs in China
Published by, 29th July 2016
When Claudia Masueger, from Switzerland, came to China in 2008, all she had was two suitcases of wine samples. Now she owns a wine retail chain, CHEERS Wines, that consists of 40 chain stores, with almost two new stores opening each month. According to her, China is a land of opportunity for foreigners who want to make it big with little or nothing to start with. "We should never underestimate the price of living in China, but there are so many ways to thrive without much money, if you are willing to." Masueger, 44, led a simple life in Beijing. She knew this could eventually pay off since there are so many business opportunities and people could live on a small budget while trying to launch a business. Her ability to throw caution to the wind and choosing to live by her heart is what drives her forward; she does not want to take the safe way out.

HNA Secures 96% of Swiss Gategroup
Published by, 28th July 2016
HNA Group, China's fourth-biggest airline, announced on Wednesday it had secured acceptances for 96.1% of the shares in its bid for Gategroup Holding AG, the Switzerland-based in-flight catering provider. Gategroup said in a statement that payment for the shares was expected to be made towards the end of the third quarter or beginning of the fourth quarter. After the settlement of the offer, HNA intends to submit an application for the delisting of the Gategroup shares and for an exemption from certain disclosure and publicity obligations in accordance with the listing rules of SIX Swiss Exchange, the principal stock exchange in Switzerland. Zurich-headquartered Gategroup is an independent provider of products, services and solutions relating to passenger's onboard service. It specializes in catering and hospitality, provisioning and logistics, onboard products and services to companies that serve people on the move.

HNA to Buy 80% of Swiss Plane Maintenance Company SR Technics
Published by, 16th July 2016
China's HNA Aviation Group Co agreed to buy a majority stake in SR Technics, a Swiss aircraft-maintenance service provider, from Mubadala Development Co for an undisclosed amount. The Abu Dhabi government-backed investment fund will sell 80% of SR Technics and retain the rest in a deal subject to regulatory approvals, the Zurich-based company said in a statement. SR Technics has 3,300 workers and services about 1,050 aircraft, according to its website. The latest acquisition by the HNA Group, a Chinese airlines-to-supermarkets conglomerate based in Hainan, will add to a series of aviation assets it has been buying around the world as billionaire founder Chen Feng expands his empire beyond Hainan Airlines Co. The group is currently in the process of acquiring Gategroup Holding AG, a Swiss inflight caterer.

Swatch Warns that First-Half Profit will Halve, or Worse
Published by, 15th July 2016
Times are still tough for Swatch the Swiss maker of Longines, Tissot Swatch watches with the popping colors and fun designs, like the Manneken Pis model currently on display in Brussels near the beloved statue. In an unscheduled statement on Friday, the Biel, Switzerland-based company said that first-half operating profit and net profit are expected to be 50% to 60% lower when it reports results next week after a stronger Swiss franc dented sales in key markets. It expects sales to fall by 12%. Swatch shares slumped 14% on open and were recently down 10.64%. Swatch pointed to lower sales in Hong Kong, France and Switzerland. By contrast, it said that mainland China "develops positively." But it said it won't cut spending or downsize its workforce, referring to its tradition and industrial long-term philosophy to keep employees "also in spite of important cancellations of orders from third parties." That's in contrast to domestic rival Richemont , which is reportedly cutting 100 jobs at Swiss watch making operations of Cartier, Vacheron Constantin and Piaget. Richemont shares were recently down 3.33%.
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Legal / Trade / Consulting / Services

What Can Swiss Students Learn in Zhongshan?
Published by, 27th July 2016
On 25 July, twenty-five Swiss master students from China Hardware Innovation Camp (CHIC) went to Zhongshan and visited Star-Prototype China Ltd. and Inno Innovation Space. In Star-Prototype, the founder and CEO, Gordon Styles, showed students around the factory, explained in detail the manufacturing process of every product, and made a comparison between China and European manufacturing modes. Later, students paid a visit to Inno and were given a brief introduction to Inno and Sino-Swiss Industry Park, which they showed great interest in. They acted actively in the Q&A. CHIC is a program initiated by Swiss federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne (EPFL), mainly opens to industry design, engineering and computer science students, aiming at broadening students’ horizon by making a field trip to local factories. During the visit organised by SSIP, students were impressed by the huge differences between China and European manufacturing industry.

Vice Governor of Guizhou Province Addressed a Speech in Sino-Swiss Event in Geneva
Published by, 20th July 2016
On 19 July, the Vice Governor of Guizhou Province, China, Mr. Lu Yongzheng, addressed a speech in Sino-Swiss Economics, Trade and Tourism Conference in Geneva, Switzerland. Mr. Lu expressed his gratitude to all the visitors and he mentioned that China and Switzerland have very close political and economic relation. Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann payed a state visit to China from 7 to 9 April on the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping. The leaders of both countries exchanged in-depth views on Swiss-China political relations, cooperation in various fields and other issues of common interests. In addition, the fourth Sino-Swiss dialogue, was held in Guiyang on 8 July. As a key sub-forum of the Eco Forum Global (EFG) Annual Conference, it is poised to further strengthen prospective collaborations between Switzerland and Guizhou Province in advancing ecological development. In the Speech, Mr. Lu also pointed out that Guizhou, as a region rich in natural resources and sceneries, shares many similarities with Switzerland in geographical features, tourism resources, and multicultural societies. He wished that both sides further strengthen exchange and cooperation in the fields of economics and trade, energy conservation and environmental protection, modern ecological agriculture and humanity.

Symposium on the Chinese Economy
Published by, 17th July 2016
Dr. Paul Thaler, who is the founding partner of Wenfei Law and in charge of our activities in Zurich, Beijing and Shanghai, was invited by the Chinese Embassy in Bern to give a lecture on legal aspects in China’s macro-economy on 7 July 2016. The lecture dealt with the development of the Chinese economy in 2016 and also took up the topics of legal certainty and rule of law in China. The event took place at the Hotel Bellevue in Berne. Among the speakers were the Chinese ambassador Mr. Geng Wenbing, Mr. Alexander Karrer, Deputy State Secretary of the Federal Department of Finance, Mr. Attilio Zanetti, Director of the Department of Economic Analysis of the Swiss National Bank, Mr. Rudolf Minsch, chief economist of economiesuisse, the former Swiss ambassador to China Mr. M. Blaise Godet, Mr. Henrique Schneider, chief economist of the Swiss Trade Association (SGV) and representatives of the UBS Group AG and the Credit Suisse Group. The participants, who lectured in German, French and Chinese, enjoyed a successful afternoon and a dinner in a pleasant atmosphere.
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