Reader's Digest > 11 - 24 February

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Reader's Digest, 11 - 24 February

Swiss and Chinese Business Related News in Switzerland and China

BILATERAL RELATIONS

Switzerland Looks Forward to Renewed Commitment
Published by chinadaily.com.cn, 17th February 2017
Switzerland looks forward to China renewing its commitments to multilateralism, open economies and free trade during the upcoming two sessions to be held in March, Swiss Ambassador to China Jean-Jacques de Dardel said. "Chinese foreign policy is geared toward multilateralism, openness of market and free trade," he told China Daily in Beijing on Thursday. "The creation of the AIIB (Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank) is welcome proof of the fact that China is ready to play the game in a multilateral sphere, not only in bilateral relations," he added. Speaking highly of the speeches made by President Xi Jinping in January during his trip to Switzerland, the ambassador said that he hoped China would continue to be dedicated to openness and free trade. "The two sessions will bring more substance to what I've heard in Davos, Geneva and Bern very recently," he said. China is scheduled to hold the annual sessions of the country's top legislature and top political advisory agency in March, during which lawmakers will review the government work report submitted by the State Council, China's Cabinet.

Chinese Ambassador to Switzerland Paid a Visit to Swiss Justice Minister
Published by china-embassy.org, 14th February 2017
On 14 February, The Chinese Ambassador to Switzerland Mr. Geng Wenbing paid a visit to Simonetta Sommaruga, Swiss Federal Councilor and head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police. Ambassador Geng appreciated Councilor for the great effort to of President Xi Jinping's visit to Switzerland. He also expressed his willingness to continue strengthened the exchange and cooperation in various fields to promote the development of bilateral relations to a higher level. Ms. Sommaruga spoke highly of President Xi Jinping's state visit to Switzerland and stated that the success of President Xi Jinping's visit to Switzerland is of great significance to the development of bilateral relations. Take the important opportunities of Xi's visit to Switzerland, she hoped both sides can further strengthen collaboration in the fields of justice and police, and constantly enhance innovative strategic partnership.

President Xi Visits to Switzerland as Opportunity to Enhance Kunming-Zurich Friendship
Published by euroasiainfo.ch, 11th February 2017
From 15 to 18 January, President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Switzerland, attended the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum and visited International Organizations in Switzerland. During the four-day visit to Switzerland, President Xi Jinping carried out dozens of bilateral and multilateral activities in Zurich, Bern, Davos, Lausanne and Geneva, had an extensive contact with leaders of various countries and people from all walks of life, promoted policies and led cooperation, which achieved fruitful results and had a far-reaching impact. As the world is rethinking profoundly on the idea of national and global governance, the development and role of China is constantly attracting the world’s attention. Thirty-five years ago, Zurich and Kunming formally became sister cities. Since 1982, the two sides have made fruitful cooperation in culture, science and technology, commerce and urban construction, and have become a model of cooperation between the two countries. EurAsia Info had the opportunity to interview the mayor of Zurich, Corine Mauch, on how President Xi’s visit will impact the Zurich-China relations.
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BUSINESS NEWS

Switzerland Open to Ensure Success of Beijing Winter Olympics
Published by chinadaily.com.cn, 20th February 2017
Switzerland, with its rich experiences in winter sports, could cooperate with China to ensure the success of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games, said Swiss officials. Roger Schnegg, director of Swiss Olympic committee, told China Daily in Beijing that as the nation where the International Olympics Committee is headquartered, Switzerland has played a leading role in winter sports as well as many other areas. "We are the global leader in winter sports. We are the global leader in sustainable tourism and hospitality services. We are the global leader in innovation and clean technology. That's overall, not only in winter," he said. He was on a three-day visit to China last week with more than 40 representatives from 14 Swiss companies, associations and institutes, including SwissCham Beijing. The delegation members visited Chongli in North China's Hebei province where the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games will be held. During the visit, the representatives met with people from Chinese government and companies to discuss cooperation issues for the winter sports. A memorandum of understanding was also signed to establish friendly cities between the Swiss tourism resort Verbier and Chongli.

Air China to Resume Service to Zurich
Published by swissinfo.ch, 14th February 2017
The Chinese national company will ensure four connections per week between Zurich and Beijing, according to Zurich airport spokesperson Raffaela Stelzer in an interview Tuesday with travel magazine “Travelinside”. The last trip made by Air China between the Swiss city and Beijing was in October 1999. The announcement means more competition for Swiss International Airlines, as the new Air China flights will depart just fifteen minutes after those offered by the Swiss company, which is operated by Lufthansa. “We are conscious that the departure times are relatively close. But we are working with Air China to coordinate ourselves even better,” explained Meike Fuhlrott, a spokesperson for Swiss, in a statement to Swiss News Agency ATS. At the end of September 2016, Lufthansa and Air China announced an agreement allowing each company to sell tickets of the other to certain destinations. Swiss and Austrian Airlines, as subsidiaries of the German air transport group, also participate in this alliance. The launch of the agreement is expected in summer 2017 for flights leaving from China to several destinations including Frankfurt, Vienna and Zurich.
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CULTURE & SOCIETY

Impressionist Art by Late Western Maestros Get Revival in China
Published by chinadaily.com.cn, 16th February 2017
It's basically life after death. World-renowned Swiss-French architect, designer and painter Le Corbusier is tapping into the Chinese art market: post-mortem. The world's biggest auction house Christie's is taking a selection of Impressionist and Modern Art works of Le Corbusier, who passed away in 1965, on a mainland tour to Shanghai and Beijing this month, introducing them to top-end art lovers in China for the first time. Among these are three oil paintings from the Heidi Weber Museum Collection in Zurich, Switzerland, which trace Le Corbusier's career from the 1920s to the 1940s. Le Corbusier's monumental "Nature morte et figure" completed in 1944, for example, can be seen as a summation of his work as a painter and architect. The works will form a centerpiece of the Impressionist & Modern Art Evening Sale on 28 February in London. And more pieces are expected to go on sale in China in the future.

Swiss Ease Citizenship for 25,000 Foreigners
Published by chinadaily.com.cn, 14th February 2017
Voters in Switzerland decided on Sunday to make it easier for young "third-generation foreigners" to get Swiss citizenship, agreeing to extend to about 25,000 people under age 25 access to the fast-track process now available to foreign spouses of Swiss nationals. The national statistics office said the "naturalization of third-generation immigrants" initiative passed with 60.4% of the vote, paving the way to a simplified path to citizenship for young people whose parents and grandparents have lived in Switzerland for decades. As in some other European countries, being born in Switzerland doesn't automatically confer citizenship. While about 25,000 people are estimated to be eligible for the new process, the referendum's passage ultimately could be far-reaching in a country where non-citizens make up one-fourth of the population.
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GENERAL INTEREST

Overnight Stays Declined by 0.3% in 2016 in Switzerland
Published by bfs.admin.ch, 21st February 2017
The hotel sector registered 35.5 million overnight stays in Switzerland in 2016, representing a moderate decline of 0.3% (-96,000 overnight stays) compared with 2015. Foreign visitors registered 19.3 million overnight stays, a decline of 1.5% (-288,000). The number of overnight stays by domestic visitors (16.2 million) showed an increase of 1.2% (+192,000) and thus registering a positive result for the fourth consecutive year. In December 2016, 2.4 million overnight stays were registered, representing a decrease of 0.8% (-19,000). These are the final results from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

New Rule to Allow 6 Days without Visa
Published by english.gov.cn, 14th February 2017
The country’s first cross-region visa-free transit policy will take effect on 30 January in the Yangtze River Delta region, according to a statement by the Ministry of Public Security on 26 January. The policy gives 144 hours-six days-with no visa requirement to foreign tourists or business people from 51 countries who pass through Jiangsu province, Zhejiang province or Shanghai. To qualify, a passenger must hold valid international travel documents and booked tickets with confirmed dates and destinations. Since 2013, Shanghai, Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, and Nanjing, capital of Jiangsu, have had a 72-hour visa-free policy to enable tourists to stop and stay without a visa, but only if they entered one of the cities via an airport. Now the entry points have been expanded to include ports and railway stations.
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INDUSTRIES

Engineering / Manufacturing

Swiss Agrochem Company Set to Work With China
Published by chinadaily.com.cn, 16th February 2017
Swiss agrochemical and seed producer Syngenta AG has said it is willing to work with more Chinese partners to make agriculture more sustainable in the country and to rejuvenate China's ecosystems. The company is already working with academics at the Yantai Academy of Agricultural Sciences, apple growers and the vineyard of COFCO Great Wall Winery (YanTai) Co Ltd in Shandong province to adopt practical measures to improve soil quality and sustainability in their orchards.

Syngenta Takeover Hits another Snag
Published by agweb.com, 14th February 2017
Syngenta AG said the U.S. has asked for more time to review its USD 43 billion takeover by China National Chemical Corp., adding that it doesn’t expect the protracted scrutiny to delay the companies’ goal to close the deal in the first half.  The Federal Trade Commission is seeking more information from the chemical makers in order to complete its review, Syngenta spokesman Paul Minehart said Monday. “Things are going very well and we don’t expect the extension to cause a delay,” Minehart said. Minehart said the deal could still win U.S. approval before the April 12 deadline for a decision by the European Commission.  The companies have proposed remedies designed to satisfy any concerns the merger could harm competition, Minehart said, without offering details. The takeover, announced a year ago, is one of a trio of mega-deals that would reshape the global agrochemicals industry. The others are Dow Chemical Co.’s bid to merge with DuPont Co. and Bayer AG’s agreement to buy Monsanto Co. The combined transactions would whittle down six industry players to three behemoths: one American, one German and one Chinese.
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Bank / Finance / Insurance

UBS Chief Sees Brighter Prospects for 2017
Published by chinadaily.com.cn, 24th February 2017
When it comes to risk assessments, Axel Weber, chairman of UBS Group AG, is among the few who have been able to see things from both a regulatory and business perspective. After a wild and unpredictable 2016, risks could emerge from such quarters as the Brexit negotiations and the policy choices of the Trump administration in the United States, which could have a substantial impact on the world's major economies, he told China Daily in an interview. Nonetheless, Weber remains upbeat about the prospects for the global economy and believes there will be an "upside potential" in global growth for the first time in five years. When it comes to UBS' China operations, Weber said the bank has no plan to shrink its presence despite a disappointing financial performance that saw its global net profit decline to CHF 3.3 billion (USD 3.26 billion) in 2016 from CHF 6.2 billion a year earlier. Instead, the bank has recently increased its stake in its securities joint venture in China, which Weber said showed its long-term engagement with the world's fastest growing economy and wealth market.

Swiss Re Quit USD 2 Billion of Under-Priced Business in Renewals
Published by intelligentinsurer.com, 23rd February 2017
Swiss Re walked away from almost USD 2 billion of business including substantial portions of contracts in China in the January renewals due to rates being below its targeted risk-adjusted levels, the company has revealed. Swiss Re said it renewed USD 8.5 billion of the USD 10.3 billion of premium volume up for renewal on 1 January 2017. This represents a decrease of 18%, driven by "disciplined underwriting and reduced capacity in almost all segments," it said. In particular, the company said it declined some large Chinese quota share business due to China Risk Oriented Solvency System (C-ROSS) regulation. "Risk-adjusted price quality decreased slightly from 102% to 101%, exceeding the hurdle rate to achieve Swiss Re's targeted Group ROE of 700bp above risk free over the cycle," the company said.

Credit Suisse Results Reveal Contrasting Fortunes of its Asian Bankers
Published by efinancialcareers.com, 15th February 2017
Credit Suisse’s private bank in Asia Pacific is boosting its headcount and generating more revenues. But income is falling at its investment bank in the region, raising the prospect of job cuts. Net revenues in Asia Pacific investment banking declined by 16% year-on-year in 2016 to CHF2,223m at Credit Suisse, while in private banking they rose by 17% to CHF1,374 million over the same period, according to its annual results. Investment banking contributed 62% of the firm’s APAC income, down from 69% in 2015. Last year wasn’t entirely bleak in the Asian investment bank, however. Revenues from underwriting and advisory, and from fixed income sales and trading increased 38% and 4% respectively. The overall slump is down to a 30% decline in equity sales and trading, the division which provides the bulk of Credit Suisse’s income in Asian IB. This was “driven by decreased client activity, particularly in Greater China”, according to the CS results.
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Hospitality / Tourism / Retails

Nestlé Profit Drops, China Unit Posts Double-Digit Decline
Published by thestandard.com.hk, 16th February 2017
Pressure on food prices globally weighed on the earnings of consumer goods giant Nestlé, which said today it would step up its drive to cut costs. The company based in Vevey, Switzerland, reported a 6% drop in net profit to CHF 8.53 billion (USD 8.53 billion), with double-digit declines at its Chinese unit dragging on growth. Revenue barely grew, by 0.8% to CHF 89.47 billion. Chief Executive Mark Schneider, said the company which makes Maggi noodles, Stouffer's frozen foods and KitKat chocolate bars plans to increase restructuring costs "considerably'' this year. Nestlé, which does not break out earnings by quarter, said that organic growth, which excludes the impact of acquisitions, was 3.2% last year, at the low end of its expectations. It is expected to rise 2 to 4% this year. Pricing improved in late 2016, and is expected to get better this year, Nestlé, said.
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Legal / Trade / Consulting / Services

China Legal Briefing No. 256 and No. 257
Published by wenfei.com, 16th February 2017
The china legal briefing 256 and 257 was released. In this briefing, you can read: adoption of provisions on administration of new energy vehicle manufacturing enterprises and products; promulgation of notice regarding the wider opening to the outside world and making active use of foreign investment; china adopts amendments to administrative procedure law; film industry promotion act; judicial interpretation of the company law of the people's republic of china Shengzhen-Hong Kong stock connect.
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