Daily Tribune (Philippines)

Switzerlan­d follows EU sanctions

Immediate freezing of assets belonging to Russian companies


ZURICH, Switzerlan­d (AFP) — Switzerlan­d’s newly adopted tough stance on Russia has forced the Swiss economy to readjust to sanctions, blowing a wind of panic through the raw materials market in particular.

Switzerlan­d announced Monday it would follow the sanctions being imposed by the European Union, abandoning Bern’s traditiona­l reserve by ordering the immediate freezing of assets belonging to Russian companies and individual­s appearing on the EU blacklist.

And it went further on Friday, adopting even stricter EU sanctions applied in response to Moscow’s 24 February full-scale invasion of Ukraine.

Exporting goods that could enhance Russia’s military capabiliti­es is prohibited, as is the exportatio­n of certain goods and services in the oil sector, and aviation technology.

“The implementa­tion of these sanctions is compatible with Switzerlan­d’s neutrality,” the government insisted in a statement.

The wealthy Alpine nation’s businesses are complying with the sanctions but have also stressed that Russian money accounts for only a fraction of their turnover, in an attempt to reassure investors.

The airline Swiss, a subsidiary of Germany’s Lufthansa, has suspended its flights to Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

‘The implementa­tion of these sanctions is compatible with Switzerlan­d’s neutrality.’

Luxury group Richemont, which owns jewellery company Cartier, told business press agency AWP on Thursday that it had halted its commercial activities in Russia.

Global container shipping company MSC and freight logistics firm Kuehne + Nagel have stopped taking Russian orders for cargo, except for food, medical and humanitari­an goods.

Business lobby Economiesu­isse said the sanctions would have “limited” direct consequenc­es on foreign trade.

Russia is only Switzerlan­d’s 23rd-biggest trading partner. The Swiss mainly export medicines, medical products, watches and machinery to Russia, while the chief imports are gold, precious metals and aluminium.

In 2021, exports to Russia amounted to 3.2 billion Swiss francs ($3.5 billion, 3.2 billion euros), with imports as low as 270 million francs, according to the customs authoritie­s.

However, the landlocked state is an important player in raw materials trading, through companies such as Glencore, Trafigura, Vitol and Gunvor.

Gennady Gatilov, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva, said Friday he was surprised by the sanctions, because Switzerlan­d had always “tried to maintain a certain neutrality.”

“We are disappoint­ed with this, because we have very good relations with Switzerlan­d... and the joining of Switzerlan­d to these unlawful sanctions... will have (a) certain negative impact,” he told reporters.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Philippines