More In­no­va­tive Co­op­er­a­tion Be­tween China and Switzer­land

China's Foreign Trade (English) - - Focus - —An ex­clu­sive in­ter­view with Jean-jac­ques de Dardel, Am­bas­sador of Switzer­land to China

At the in­vi­ta­tion of Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping, Swiss Pres­i­dent Doris Leuthard at­tended the “Belt and Road ” Fo­rum for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion ( BRF) in Bei­jing from May 14 to 15. Pres­i­dent Leuthard gave a key­note speech at the fo­rum and had a meet­ing with Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping on the side­line of the event. Ahead of the BRF, Am­bas­sador of Switzer­land to China, Jean-jac­ques de Dardel, il­lus­trates on Switzer­land’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in the “Belt and Road” Ini­tia­tive and the in­creas­ingly dy­namic Sino- Swiss re­la­tions.

On the “Belt and Road” ini­tia­tive

Q1: The “Belt and Road” Fo­rum for In­ter­na­tional Co­op­er­a­tion (BRF) was held in Bei­jing from May 14 to 15. Swiss Pres­i­dent Doris Leuthard at­tended the sum­mit at the in­vi­ta­tion of Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping. Could you please share with us more de­tails?

Jean-jac­ques de Dardel: Swiss Pres­i­dent Doris Leuthard was in­vited to at­tend the “Belt and Road” Fo­rum by Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping dur­ing his state visit to Switzer­land in Jan­uary. I be­lieve our pres­i­dent is among the first heads of state to be in­vited to the fo­rum. At the fo­rum, Pres­i­dent Leuthard gave a key­note speech and at­tended the Lead­ers Round­table dis­cus­sions. On the side­line of the fo­rum, our two pres­i­dents had a bi­lat­eral meet­ing. In ad­di­tion to that, Pres­i­dent Leuthard par­tic­i­pated in a tourism event to fur­ther pro­mote the Sino-swiss Year of Tourism, the Si­noSwiss Busi­ness Awards or­ga­nized by the Swiss Cham­ber of Com­merce Bei­jing, and the In­no­fash­ion event at the Swiss Em­bassy, a fash­ion and de­sign event to high­light Swiss and Chi­nese fash­ion, de­sign and in­no­va­tion.

The fo­rum pro­vides an op­por­tu­nity for var­i­ous coun­tries to meet in a whole new set­ting. We hope that this bears the chance to cre­ate a new and pos­i­tive dy­namic, where a com­mu­nity of coun­tries can work to­gether on a com­mon aim: in­creas­ing con­nec­tiv­ity. This of course en­tails more than mere in­fra­struc­ture. The “Belt and Road” Ini­tia­tive has set up five pil­lars: in­fra­struc­ture con­struc­tion, in­vest­ment and trade co­op­er­a­tion, f inan­cial co­op­er­a­tion, pol­icy co­or­di­na­tion, and pro­mo­tion of peo­ple-to-peo­ple ex­change. Due to our long­stand­ing ex­per­tise in the dif­fer­ent pil­lars, Switzer­land can con­trib­ute to the ini­tia­tive in a mean­ing­ful way. Suf­fice to say, with her at­ten­dance at the Fo­rum in May, the Pres­i­dent of the Swiss Con­fed­er­a­tion, Doris Leuthard, ex­presses our readi­ness to do so. Q2: Wha t a r e t h e bus in e s s op­por­tu­ni­ties for Swiss com­pa­nies from the “Belt and Road” Ini­tia­tive, es­pe­cially for com­pa­nies en­gaged in in­fra­struc­ture, fi­nanc­ing and in­sur­ance?

Jean-jac­ques de Dardel: Switzer­land wel­comes the goal of China“belt and Road”ini­tia­tive to strengthen the trade

Q3: The bi­lat­eral eco­nomic and t rade co­op­er­a­tion be­tween China and Switzer­land in 2016 has wit­nessed a his­tor­i­cal record with the bi­lat­eral trade turnover of CHF 22.12 bil­lion. How do you eval­u­ate the bi­lat­eral eco­nomic and trade re­la­tions be­tween the two coun­tries?

Jean-jac­ques de Dardel: The Sino-swiss ties are more sub­stan­tial than ever and bi­lat­eral trade and in­vest­ment has been keep­ing the good mo­men­tum of grow­ing in the past years. Since 2010, China has been Switzer­land’s most im­por­tant trad­ing part­ner in Asia, the 3rd largest glob­ally af­ter EU and US. The im­ple­men­ta­tion of the Sino- Swiss Free Trade Agree­ment, China’s first FTA with a con­ti­nen­tal Euro­pean count r y, is a ma­jor succe ss in par­tic­u­lar. Since it en­tered into force on July 1st 2014, it has cre­ated new op­por­tu­ni­ties for de­vel­op­ment and in­vest­ment for both sides, and help Chi­nese and Swiss ex­porters save costs sub­stan­tially.

In sum­mary, bi­lat­eral trade be­tween the two coun­tries has in­creased 6 times since 2000 and the trade vol­ume in 2016 reached 26.8 bil­lion Swiss francs (incl. pre­cious met­als). The en­hance­ment process of FTA has been launched dur­ing the state visit of Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping to Switzer­land in Jan­uary.

In terms of in­vest­ment, Swiss di­rect in­vest­ment in China has been grow­ing par­tic­u­larly fast over the past 15 years. To­day, more than 800 Swiss com­pa­nies are present in China, in ar­eas rang­ing from ma­chin­ery and equip­ment, food, tex­tiles, lo­gis­tics, chem­i­cals and phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals and the f inan­cial sec­tor. On the other hand, Chi­nese in­vest­ments and Chi­nese com­pa­nies ac­tive in Switzer­land have also been grow­ing.

Mor e o v e r, Swit z e rl and is cu r rent ly posit ion­ing it­sel f as one of the lead­ing cen­ters for the in­ter­na­tion­al­iza­tion of the RMB in Europe.

Last but not least, let’s not for­get the ris­ing num­ber of Chi­nese vis­i­tors in Switzer­land nowa­days, which is of sig­nif­i­cant im­por­tance for the Swiss tourism in­dus­try. In 2015, Chi­nese tourists overnight stays in Switzer­land came to a record num­ber of over 1.6 mil­lion. China now is the 4th source of tourists in Switzer­land and the first from Asia. In the Sino-swiss Year of Tourism in 2017, we are ex­pect­ing more peo­ple from Switzer­land and China vis­it­ing each other’s coun­try. Q4: For Chines e com­pa­nies i n t e r e s ted i n i n ves t i n g i n Switzer­land, what are the fa­vor­able busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties? What sug­ges­tions would you give to Chi­nese in­vestors for them to do busi­ness ef­fec­tively and to avoid risks?

Jean-jac­ques de Dardel: It goes with­out say­ing that Switzer­land is the pre­mium busi­ness lo­ca­tion in the world. Fac­tors like in­no­va­tion and tech­nol­ogy, lib­eral eco­nomic ecosys­tem, sta­ble po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, be­ing a gate­way to Europe, top-grade ed­u­ca­tion and high-level of work­force, highly de­vel­oped in­fra­struc­ture, fa­vor­able tax sys­tem are the ma­jor ad­van­tages for for­eign com­pa­nies to re­lo­cate to Switzer­land.

For Chi­nese in­vestors, there are a few fac­tors that are of par­tic­u­lar ap­peal. First of all, the po­lit­i­cal sta­bil­ity. As an in­vestor you would like to look at a sta­ble en­vi­ron­ment. We also stress our ed­u­ca­tion level, our many lan­guages, the fa­vor­able tax­a­tion sys­tem, f lex­i­bil­ity of the la­bor force and la­bor law as well as the very high level of in­no­va­tion. We also present Switzer­land as an ex­cel­lent plat­form for reach­ing the other Euro­pean mar­kets.

The Free Trade Agree­ment ( FTA) be­tween Switzer­land and China is also pointed out as it is the only FTA signed by China with a con­ti­nen­tal Euro­pean coun­try, also one of the top 20 world economies. That agree­ment pro­vides count­less op­por­tu­ni­ties for in­vestors from both sides.

We would like Chi­nese in­vestors M

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