Swissinfo

Swissinfo

SWI swissinfo.ch – the international service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC). Since 1999, swissinfo.ch has fulfilled the federal government’s mandate to distribute information about Switzerland internationally, supplementing the online offerings of the radio and television stations of the SBC. Today, the international service is directed above all at an international audience interested in Switzerland, as well as at Swiss citizens living abroad.

Articles by Swissinfo

Why some wealth managers hate wealth

“How can we [ . . .] fight increased inequality?” railed Ralph Hamers in a recent interview. To be clear, Hamers is not the boss of Unicef, or Oxfam or the Social Mobility Foundation. He is chief executive of Swiss bank UBS, one of the biggest beneficiaries of the widening wealth gap.

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Credit Suisse reaches deal with former employee in spying case

The Swiss bank and its former top manager Iqbal Khan have agreed to end all pending criminal proceedings in a 2019 spying affair that toppled the company’s top brass. Speaking to the Reuters news agency, a spokesperson for Credit Suisse confirmed a report in the newspaper NZZ am Sonntag that, following an agreement between “all parties”, the matter was now closed.

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Tourism sector will take decades to recover from pandemic

The president of the national marketing body Switzerland Tourism says the year 2021 is on course to be even worse than 2020, with 5% fewer hotel stays expected. “This is not good news, because 2020 was the worst year in history” for the sector, Martin Nydegger told the newspaper SonntagsZeitung.

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Honey production collapses in Switzerland

The short spring and wet summer means Swiss bees have produced ten times less honey than usual. As a result the price of honey is set to increase. After last year’s exceptional harvest, 2021 is looking very meagre: while a hive normally produces 15-20 kilos of honey, the current figure is 0-3 kilos, Swiss public radio, RTS, reported on Thursday.

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Swiss ‘Crypto Nation’ supports African blockchain ambitions

Sub-Saharan Africa is a key region for Swiss foreign policyExternal link and digitisation will play a major role in that strategy. To this end, “Crypto Nation” Switzerland is throwing its weight behind a public-private partnership to find blockchain solutions to some of the challenges facing the continent.

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Swiss Start-Ups Show Resilience Despite Covid-19 Pandemic

The number of Swiss start-ups launched has risen significantly in the first six months of 2021 while the number of companies filing for bankruptcy has decreased, studies have shown. In the first half of 2021 over 26,000 new companies were added to Switzerland’s commercial register, an increase of over 20% compared to the year before, a new report by Dun & Bradstreet has found.

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Tax Deal: Small Countries ‘Should not be Forgotten’ says Swiss Minister

The interests of small innovative countries must be taken into account in international corporate tax measures, says Swiss Finance Minister Ueli Maurer, who has been attending the G20 meeting in Italy. Tax was a key issue at the two-day meeting of finance ministers and central bankers from the group of 20 major economies, which wrapped up on Saturday.

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Human Rights Sports Body granted Upgraded Swiss Legal Status

An organisation set up in Switzerland to prevent sport from harming society and athletes has been granted full association status in Geneva. The Centre for Sport and Human RightsExternal link was awarded the status of an independent non-profit association under Swiss law on Thursday. It has been running since 2018 under a different legal status.

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Swiss Narrowly Miss CO2 Emission Targets

Switzerland has again failed to meet its goals for reducing greenhouse gas emissions, prompting a rise in CO2 taxes. Last year emissions from fuel, including heating oil and gas, were 31% lower than 1990 levels, according to data released by the Federal OfficeExternal link for the Environment on Wednesday. This is unchanged from 2019 and falls short of the required 33%.

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Swiss to keep Sipping from Single-Use Plastics as EU Ban takes Effect

Single-use plastic items like straws and cups are no longer allowed in the 27 European Union countries. This isn’t the case in non-member Switzerland, where retailers and restaurants are taking their own approach. The EU ban on certain plastic products took effect on July 3 and covers a range of everyday items from food packaging to wet wipes.

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Banks Urged to think Green or Face Extinction

Climate change is forcing financiers to change the way they think and act. This could have a big impact on their balance sheets – and potentially their very survival. “Bankers are no longer purely financial specialists, but also connoisseurs of the environmental and social footprint of investments,” said Yves Mirabaud in his last speech as president of the Association of Swiss Private Banks in June.

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German Stock Exchange Snaps up Swiss Cryptocurrency Firm

The operators of Germany’s main stock exchange have paid more than CHF100 million ($108 million) for a majority stake in Swiss cryptocurrency service provider Crypto Finance. The move reflects a growing trend of traditional financial institutions gearing themselves up for an anticipated growth in the trade of digital financial assets.

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CEOs Profit as Workers Suffer from Pandemic, says Union

While the Covid-19 pandemic has caused existential hardship for many employees, CEOs and shareholders have “shamelessly helped themselves”, according to a union study. “The pay gap remains wide open at a very high level,” trade union Unia wrote in its annual pay gap studyExternal link published on Tuesday.

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Switzerland’s Battle of the Bees

The risk to bees through pesticides and the ensuing effects on the world’s food crops have been the source of much debate. But do Swiss measures to support the domestic honeybee disadvantage the equally important wild bee?

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‘Switzerland can’t have its cake and eat it,’ says EU ambassador

After rejecting the framework agreement with the European Union last month, Switzerland must now choose the model for interacting with the bloc’s internal market, says the EU ambassador to Switzerland. In an interviewExternal link with Le Temps newspaper on Friday, Petros Mavromichalis warned that the status quo was not an option for the EU.

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Steady increase of cross-border workers continued in 2020

The number of cross-border workers plying their trade in Switzerland has more than doubled since the mid-1990s. The rising trend continues, increasing by over 4% between 2019 and 2020. At the end of 2020, some 343,000 cross-border workers were employed in Switzerland, up from 329,000 in December 2019, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) said on Thursday.

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Swiss turning to new payment methods, but cash is still king

The use of debit cards continues to increase but cash remains the most popular payment method in Switzerland. A survey by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) found that 97% of respondents keep cash in their wallets or at home to cover day-to-day expenses, while 92% own a debit card and 78% hold a credit card, according to a press release External linkon Wednesday.

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Covid-19 sent Swiss Energy Consumption Plummeting in 2020

The Swiss consumed almost 11% less energy last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic and warmer weather, according to the Federal Office of Energy. In total, Swiss residents used up 747,400 terajoules (TJ) of energy in 2020 – a fall of 10.6% compared to 2019 – the office said in a statementExternal link on Monday.

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Swiss Cities Demand end to Opaque Cantonal Tax Competition

The proposed 15% minimum corporate tax rate is an opportunity for Switzerland to unite its tax code for the better, says an organization representing Swiss cities. City finance directors have criticized cantons for trying to plug expected tax gaps unilaterally, rather than find a common approach nationwide.

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Swiss economy on way back to normal, says top treasurer

Switzerland’s economy will be back to its pre-pandemic level as early as this year and does not need a stimulus package, says Sabine D’Amelio-Favez, director of the Federal Finance Administration. The Confederation has incurred debts of CHF30 billion ($33 billion) to stem the economic consequences of Covid-19, she said in an interview published on Saturday by newspapers of the CH Media group.

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A plea to Swiss banks from the Russian Arctic

Swiss banks might not be the most obvious allies for indigenous communities struggling to survive in Russia’s Far North. But their financial clout could drive multinationals to change their business practices, argue those affected by a major environmental disaster last year.

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Swiss hail ‘cordial’ talks with Biden

Swiss President Guy Parmelin has underlined the importance of bilateral relations after a “cordial” meeting with US President Joe Biden. Parmelin also called Wednesday’s US-Russia meeting a “sign of hope”. Biden arrived in Geneva on Tuesday afternoon, ahead of the summit with Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

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SWISS airline job cuts less severe than expected

Swiss International Air Lines will make fewer pandemic-related job cuts than feared following consultations with staff and trade unions. On Tuesday, SWISS said the number of intended layoffs has been reduced to 550 from the 780 announced last month. Of the 550 affected jobs, 58 employees have accepted a downgrade from their current positions so that they will remain with the company.

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Switzerland-EU: a Complicated Relationship that puts Swiss Research at Risk

They break up, they get back together, and then they break up again. The rift between Bern and Brussels over the framework agreement is causing frustration among Swiss researchers who depend on EU funding for their work. Universities, companies and start-ups fear that science and research will become “collateral damage” of a negotiation gone wrong.

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Switzerland plans subsidies to offset G7 corporate tax plan

Swiss-based multinationals such as commodities trader Glencore will receive subsidies and other incentives under plans Switzerland is drawing up to maintain its competitive tax rates, even as the country prepares to sign-up to the G7’s new plan for a global minimum tax on big businesses.

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Child Labour rises for first time in two decades 

The world has witnessed the first rise in child labour in 20 years and the coronavirus crisis threatens to push millions more minors into the same fate, the United Nations said on Thursday. Swiss multinationals from food giant Nestlé to mining titans Glencore and Trafigura have struggled to eradicate child labour from their supply chains and the communities where they work.

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Electricity watchdog sounds warning on Swiss energy security

The Federal Electricity Commission (ElCom) has again voiced concern about Switzerland’s ability to secure sufficient power supplies in the coming years. While there is no immediate danger of shortfalls in the Alpine state, the electricity watchdog said on Thursday that more should be done to ensure domestic energy security in the mid to long term.

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Cobalt must be included in Swiss responsible business legislation

Business and human rights experts argue that Switzerland should seize the opportunity to require responsible sourcing of cobalt, an in-demand mineral whose risks to human rights are often overlooked. The government is holding consultations on a new law to hold companies accountable for the adverse impact of their operations on people after the Responsible Business Initiative failed at the ballot box last year.

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Futuristic underground cargo project moves a step closer to reality

Goods that are normally trucked on busy Swiss roads are a step closer to travelling underground on driverless vehicles after an ambitious cargo project got a first legislative go-ahead. The Cargo sous terrain (CST) project sounds like science fiction: a 500-kilometre network of tunnels to transport freight between Switzerland’s busiest cities.

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How Swiss Asset Managers Opened their Doors to Lex Greensill

In late 2014, David Solo lent A$12.2 million (CHF8.5 million) to a little-known supply-chain finance group with eye-catching claims. Greensill Capital, which was trying to muscle in on a corner of finance dominated for decades by banks, vowed to make “finance fairer” and declared that it would be “democratising capital”.

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Dishonest Partial Unemployment Claims Alarm Swiss Auditors

The Swiss Federal Audit Office says it is worried by a surge in fraud cases linked to the short-time working system, a key pillar of the country’s economic response to Covid-19. The office’s director Michel Huissoud told public radio SRF on Monday he was “shocked by the number of complaints, mistakes, and abuses” recorded to date.

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Swiss prepare for EU chill after quitting market access talks

In Brussels there was shock and anger. In Switzerland, quiet celebration and relief — but, for some, doubts about what exactly comes next. On Wednesday, Bern announced it was formally withdrawing from negotiations to codify future relations with the EU into a single overarching “framework agreement” — a back-and-forth exchange that has dominated an increasingly fraught relationship with Brussels since 2014.

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Public trust in Swiss banks soars amid pandemic 

Swiss people’s trust in their country’s banks is at its highest in 20 years, boosted by Covid credits and a commitment to sustainability, according to a new survey. People from almost all political camps have a positive perception, with 75% describing their attitude towards Swiss banks as positive or very positive, found the survey conducted by gfs.bern for the Swiss Bankers Association (SBA).

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Eight Swiss in Bloomberg billionaire ‘rich list’ 

In the latest version of the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, eight Swiss or Swiss-resident names figure among the 500 richest people in the world. The richest of the Alpine-based billionaires is Geneva-based Ernesto Bertarelli, who according to his own self-description is a “Swiss entrepreneur active in the fields of business, finance, sport and philanthropy”.

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Swiss Private Banks at Odds with Clients over ESG

Switzerland used to be a place where the rich came with their money to escape the world’s problems, not to confront them. These days, the private banks that dot the pristine streets of Zurich and Geneva are no exception when it comes to the wave of enthusiasm that has broken over the asset management world for better environmental, social and governance standards.

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Overtourism could give way to Sustainable Travel

Let me state from the outset, you won’t get a discount if you mention to your travel agent that you read this article when you book your trip to Switzerland this summer. But it will be nice to have you back; Switzerland – in line with much of Europe – is planning to open up to overseas visitors in a few short weeks. And since we haven’t seen you in a while, I expect you’ll be welcomed with open arms!

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Electric Car maker feels the power of Switzerland

Anton “Toni” Piëch, co-founder of the Swiss electric car manufacturer Piëch Automotive, tells SWI swissinfo.ch why he chose Zurich and how he intends to make his mark in a highly competitive market with battery-powered cars for “purists who love technology”.

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Telecoms company Sunrise to axe 660 jobs

Switzerland’s second biggest telecoms group, Sunrise UPC, says it will cut 600 jobs by the end of 2022, following UPC’s CHF6.8 billion ($7.4 billion) takeover of Sunrise Communications last year.

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WEF set to return to Davos in 2022

The annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) is set to take place in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos again next year. However, reasonable hotel rates are a prerequisite and the Covid-19 situation is also a decisive factor, according to organisers.

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How Credit Suisse rolled the dice on risk management — and lost

Five months before Greensill Capital’s collapse, Credit Suisse invited a special guest to present to its top ranks in Asia. The visitor was hailed as the sort of bold entrepreneur the bank wanted to do business with: Lex Greensill. “The tone was this is the exact kind of client the bank wants, tell the MDs to go out and find more guys like Lex,” said one senior manager who watched the November video conference.

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Restaurants to re-open despite high Covid infection rate 

The Swiss government has decided to allow outdoor tables in restaurants and bars again as of next Monday, following a four-month temporary closure. As part of its anti-Covid strategy, cultural and sports events will be open to the public under certain conditions, a government statement said. 

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Government approves accord with UK to ease trade for companies 

The Swiss government has approved an agreement with Britain on mutual recognition of companies with “AEO” customs security approval, designed to facilitate trade. This agreement is “intended to reduce technical barriers to trade and facilitate trade with the United Kingdom for companies with AEO status”, according to a government press release on Wednesday. The accord has yet to be ratified by Britain. 

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Government faces growing pressure to relax Covid measures

Pressure is building on the Swiss government to ease restrictions imposed to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic. The Federation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises on Monday called for a review of the current situation, saying the government was focusing too much on health while failing to consider the economic and financial impact of the restrictions.

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Study shows benefits of physical and cognitive play in dementia patients

Elderly participants who trained regularly on a fitness device developed by a Swiss company showed improvements in cognitive skills, such as attention, concentration, memory and orientation. The study, carried out by an international team in two Belgian care homes, relied on a fitness game, known as “Exergame”, developed by a spin-off of the federal technology institute ETH Zurich.

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Swiss firms hold out hopes in US infrastructure upgrade

US President Joe Biden’s major infrastructure plan is raising high hopes for Swiss firms in the construction and building industry. Although first contracts are expected to go to local firms, experts believe Swiss firms could score opportunities thanks to their specialisation and presence in the US market.

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Nestlé attacks food benefits of Brazilian workers during the pandemic

The Swiss multinational is celebrating 100 years in Brazil but its poorest workers face food voucher cuts amid rising food prices caused by the pandemic. After a century of doing business in Brazil – Nestlé’s fifth largest market with CHF2.79 billion ($2.94 billion) in sales in 2020 – the Swiss food manufacturer faces the discontent of trade unions in the South American country. 

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Switzerland and ILO sign agreement on development cooperation

Economics Minister Guy Parmelin and the Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder, have concluded an agreement on development cooperation. Parmelin, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, also announced that Switzerland had joined a global platform to combat child labour, forced labour and human trafficking, the government said on Thursday.

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The Swiss textile machinery industry has a China dilemma

Amid allegations of forced labour involving Uyghur and other minorities in the garment supply chain, the Swiss textile machinery sector faces thorny questions about its ties to and reliance on China. In 2014, the same year the Swiss-China free trade deal went into force, a group of industry colleagues including a representative of the Swiss firm Uster Technologies visitedExternal link cotton gins and spinning mills in Xinjiang, Western China.

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Electric cars are on the way, but is Switzerland ready?

Last year saw a surge in new electric vehicle (EV) sales worldwide and Switzerland was no exception. But the experience of frontrunner countries like Norway shows that some things will have to change if the Swiss electric car revolution is to keep pace in the years ahead and reduce carbon emissions.

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Credit Suisse warns of ‘highly significant’ loss linked to hedge fund

The Swiss bank Credit Suisse says it may face a “highly significant” loss in the first quarter due to an unnamed American hedge fund client defaulting on margin calls. In a statement issued on Monday, the bank said: “While at this time it is premature to quantify the exact size of the loss resulting from this exit, it could be highly significant and material to our first quarter results”.

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Swiss ‘too big to fail’ banks pose little risk to the economy

Three of Switzerland’s “too big to fail” banks no longer threaten to cause a seismic shift in the economy should they collapse, says the financial regulator. Zurich Cantonal Bank, PostFinance and the Raiffeisen banking group are now deemed to have put into place credible plans for an orderly bankruptcy.

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How the Swiss central bank could control the cost of pandemic debt

The cost of paying off spiralling national debt in the United States and Switzerland is rising as interest rates increase. This makes the financing of pandemic expenditure more expensive. That’s not a problem in Japan where the central bank is holding interest rates in check. Would the Japanese recipe also be something for Switzerland?

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Hack on US security-camera company sparks Swiss police raid

Swiss authorities on Monday confirmed a police raid at the home of a Swiss hacker who took credit for helping to break into a US security-camera company’s online networks, part of what the hacker cited as an effort to raise awareness about the dangers of mass surveillance.

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Swiss government expects fast economic recovery in 2021

After a weak start to the year, Switzerland’s economy should recover rapidly from a heavy coronavirus-driven slump to grow by 3% in 2021, the government said on Thursday. Gross domestic product will fall “significantly” in the first quarter of this year, after Covid-19 restrictions last December, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said in a statement.

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No more free rides in free trade deals

The Swiss narrowly voted in favour of a free trade deal with Indonesia on Sunday. Will future agreements also have to win popular support? Jessica covers the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to big global companies and their impact in Switzerland and abroad.

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Most adults in rich nations face long wait for vaccine, distributor warns

More than half of adults in rich countries will still be waiting to receive a first dose of coronavirus vaccine in 15 months’ time, the head of a logistics group distributing jabs has warned. Detlef Trefzger, chief executive of Kuehne+Nagel, one of the world’s largest haulage companies, said: “This already is fast. This sounds shocking for some people, but we have to be realistic.”

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Switzerland gears up to place robots in classrooms

Covid-19 has accelerated the transition to online teaching, raising questions about the role of robots in classrooms. Switzerland is rolling out its own robot learning programs, but it’s still a long way off before they will replace teachers.

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Swiss press divided over phased easing of Covid restrictions

Is the government showing some backbone or being cowardly by keeping to its gradual pandemic reopening plans? The Swiss media can’t agree. For the German-speaking Neue Zürcher ZeitungExternal link broadsheet, the government – which confirmed its measures on Wednesday – is simply being obstinate.

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The United Nations in Geneva – before and during the pandemic

With the exception of a few organisations and institutions that continue to operate in person, such as the UN Human Rights Council, which is currently conducting its Universal Periodic Review process, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the WHO and some permanent missions to the United Nations, most day-to-day business and multilateral activities are conducted online.

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Swiss spent record amount on food in 2020

Consumers spent 11.3% more on food and beverages in brick-and-mortar shops last year than they did in 2019, helping the food retail trade to pull in a record turnover of nearly CHF30 billion ($33.7 billion).

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Is the grass greener outside the EU?

Britain argues that Brexit will make British agriculture greener. SWI Swissinfo.ch looks at how successful EU agricultural policies have been, and how they compare with Switzerland’s approach.  

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Deal or no Deal: How five non-member states handle EU relations

With Brexit done, Switzerland is hoping it can restart negotiations on its framework agreement with the European Union. The experience of other non-member states offers some valuable lessons on how it can engage with Brussels, though no blueprint exists.  SWI swissinfo.ch looks at how five other non-member states have negotiated with the EU.

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Swiss Corporate Merger Activity Dampened by Covid

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The coronavirus pandemic left its mark on mergers and acquisitions (M&A) in Switzerland last year. The volume of transactions halved, and the number of deals was also down. Overall, the number of transactions with Swiss participation fell from 402 to 363. At $63.1 billion (CHF56 billion), the transaction volume was only half what it was in 2019 – mainly owing to the absence of mega-deals, consultants KPMG said on Thursday.

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Switzerland hit by widespread malware campaign

Several security bodies in Switzerland have been targeted by emails that appear to come from official organisations such as banks or the police and contain a password for a zip file. When this file is opened, the computer becomes infected with a trojan called Emotet.

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Swiss continue search for absconded British tourists

Swiss cantons are still trying to identify tourists from the UK and South Africa who are staying in their resorts or who fled to escape Covid quarantine. Canton Valais, home to many popular ski resorts such as Verbier and Zermatt, is struggling.
This content was published on December 30, 2020 – 14:03
December 30, 2020 – 14:03

Keystone-SDA/ts

At the weekend an estimated 200 British tourists crept out of Verbier during the night, with hotel owners only realising what was going on when they saw breakfast trays outside room doors. The tourists face fines of up to CHF10,000 ($11,280).
On December 20 Switzerland halted all flights from Britain and South Africa because a new variant of the coronavirus, thought to be more infectious, had

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‘Brexit envy’ grows in Switzerland

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announces a deal on December 24 Paul Grover
Britain has finally negotiated a deal with the European Union. The European Court of Justice will not act as a court of arbitration. Some Swiss voices are now calling for Switzerland to get the same deal.

The UK and the EU managed to agree on a last-minute trade deal after all. It will come into force provisionally on January 1. This will prevent customs duties being imposed on exports and imports in the new year.Free trade without EU membership: that sounds like what British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was after, and something he’ll try to sell as a victory at home. The British have also managed to

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Economic outlook for Switzerland in 2021

Have the Swiss and European Union economies already been through the worst, or will the pandemic cause more damage in 2021? Keystone / Martin Ruetschi

Lockdown, home office, travel bans. The pandemic has shaken up the economy, but its disruptive power is having a selective effect. While the pharmaceutical industry is sailing through the crisis unscathed, the watch industry is being hit harder than any time since the last world war. What is the future of Switzerland as a location for business, work and research? 
This content was published on December 30, 2020 – 11:00
December 30, 2020 – 11:00

Relocation of the global villageTraditionally, the Swiss economic year would start with a bang in January, with the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos. Last year, the WEF was

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Swiss want more digital services from the state

Digitalisation is increasing pressure on state authorities, with almost three-quarters of Swiss expecting more digital services from the authorities, according to a survey by consultants Deloitte.
Whether it’s paying parking fines or obtaining motorway toll stickers, Swiss want to be able to deal with such services online. A third of those surveyed could even imagine getting married via video conferencing.A large majority of the population would like to see harmonised digital solutions throughout Switzerland, for example for the electronic transmission of tax data, registration and deregistration at their

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Credit Suisse chief vows a ‘clean slate’ in 2021

The chief executive of Credit Suisse has vowed the bank will start 2021 with a “clean slate” after a torrid year that began with a damaging corporate spying scandal and was punctuated by embarrassing fallout from legacy compliance and lending failures.

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Covid continues to stress Swiss economy

Overnight hotel stays fell by more than 40% during the summer as Switzerland locked down against coronavirus. The pandemic has also battered the finances of the airline industry, but most smaller companies have retained some optimism for the future.

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Swiss National Bank accused of lagging behind in green investment

Swiss banks and retirement funds are still investing enormous sums in fossil fuel companies and thereby contributing to global warming. This is the conclusion of a government climate compatibility test. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) didn’t even take part in the test – and is lagging far behind foreign institutions in climate protection.

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French blockchain firms offer tracing for Swiss watches

The market for second-hand luxury watches is booming. But for the average consumer, it is not easy to tell a fake from the genuine article and determine the real value of a particular timepiece. Certificates based on blockchain technology could provide more transparency.

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Life as an expat in Swiss cities: the good news and the less good news

From tip-top transport in Basel to housing headaches in Geneva, foreign residents share what they love and loathe about the four Swiss cities featured in the Expat City Ranking 2020.
This content was published on November 26, 2020 – 09:00
November 26, 2020 – 09:00

Thomas Stephens

Born in London, Thomas was a journalist at The Independent before moving to Bern in 2005. He speaks all three official Swiss languages and enjoys travelling the country and practising them, above all in pubs, restaurants and gelaterias.
More about the author
| English Department

Of the 66 cities in the latest list, published by InterNations on Thursday, Basel rates highest (24th), ahead of Lausanne (28th), Zurich (37th) and Geneva (48th).The Expat City Ranking 2020The Expat City Ranking is based on the

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Ex-Credit Suisse boss recruited by Rwandan government

Tidjane Thiam, who resigned as CEO of Swiss bank Credit Suisse in February, has been tasked with using his connections to build up the Rwandan capital Kigali as an international business location, according to Swiss business newspaper Handelszeitung.

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Will vaccination campaign convince hesitant Swiss?

Faced with considerable public scepticism towards a Covid-19 vaccine, the Federal Office of Public Health is preparing an information campaign about vaccinations. However, the country’s top hospital hygienist thinks offering incentives is a better way to make people get a jab.

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‘Artificial intelligence won’t replace humans’

Artificial intelligence (AI) is gaining ground in our societies, posing a threat to jobs and increasingly invading our private lives. A new centre for AI research at the federal technology institute ETH Zurich wants to put people at the centre of its work.

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Swiss consumers want repair label on electronic appliances

No less than 98% of people polled by a consumer protection alliance are in favour of a labelling system that evaluates the repairability of electronic and household appliances. Most of them were also prepared to pay more for a product that offered specific repair guarantees.

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Roche poised to launch mass Covid testing

Swiss drug firm Roche says it is to launch a new Covid-19 antigen test before the end of the year, allowing faster, higher-volume testing. One of the most potent use cases could be at airports to ease the severe restrictions on air transport.

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Banks making slow progress on diversity issues

A recent story from the New York Times implied that the resignation of Ivory Coast-born Tidjane Thiam at the helm of Credit Suisse earlier this year had racist undertones, and he was the only Black CEO among the world’s biggest banks. How does the banking world – especially Credit Suisse – address the issue of diversity among its ranks?

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Hotel sector sees gloomy outlook

Swiss hotels are predicting a worsening outlook, as newspapers warn thousands of jobs could be lost in the sector. According to the latest survey by sector association HotellerieSuisse  at the beginning of this month, more than a third of hotels (37%) say they will have to lay off staff in the coming months.

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The colonial vision of Swiss multinationals

Switzerland is the home of many major multinational companies, many of which date back to the late 19th century, the high tide of colonialism. But is there a link between the rise of great Swiss corporate names and European colonial expansion? The issue turns out to be a complex one.

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SWISS plans to introduce rapid pre-boarding Covid tests

German airline Lufthansa will introduce rapid tests before certain flights to detect Covid-19 in passengers. If the trial, set to start in October, is successful, it will be expanded to Lufthansa subsidiaries Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) and Edelweiss.

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WEF Davos conference in doubt for 2021

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) flagship summit may not take place in Davos next year, businesses in the alpine town have been warned. The pandemic had already forced organisers to postpone the event from its usual January slot to a potential early summer date.

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Toxins found in popular Swiss tourist spot

Carcinogenic toxins have seeped into the groundwater at the Blausee in the Bernese Oberland, killing thousands of fish, say the owners of the lake’s fish farm. They point the finger at companies renovating the Lötschberg summit tunnel and the authorities.

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Swiss Tourism Industry demands new Covid-19 Quarantine Regime

Swiss Tourism Industry

Foreign visitors from Covid-19 high risk countries should be able to travel to Switzerland with negative corona tests and not have to go into quarantine, say tourism officials. Under Swiss regulations, anyone entering Switzerland from one of the high risk coronavirus countries on a list regularly updated by the Federal Office of Public Health must go into quarantine for ten days to help curb the spread of Covid-19, or risk a fine.

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Ceneri Base Tunnel is officially open

The Ceneri Base Tunnel has been officially opened, with the first freight train passing through the tunnel in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino shortly after 11:30am. Passengers will have to wait for the new national rail timetable in December.

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Geneva Airport expects 23 percent fewer passengers in 2021

Geneva Airport officials say the shockwaves of the Covid-19 pandemic will reverberate into next year, with the number of passengers flying to and from the airport expected to be down by almost a quarter compared with pre-coronavirus levels, according to Swiss public radio, RTS.

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Trading platforms profit from pandemic chaos

While Covid-19 has been wreaking havoc on the economy, many banks and trading platforms have recorded bumper results. Profits were boosted by elevated trading activity, but future prospects are mixed depending on the type of financial player.

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Swiss Private Banks Brace for Coronavirus Impact

Swiss Private banks

The Swiss private banking sector saw a resurgence in fortunes last year but faces an uncertain future as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to play havoc with financial markets. Favourable market conditions in 2019 allowed the 84 banks surveyed by KPMG to grow client assets by 14%, according to a recently published report by the audit firm.

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New Swiss Rail Timetable Speeds up Cross-Border Trips

Swiss Rail

Next year the train connections from Switzerland to Germany and Italy will be faster. On Wednesday the Swiss Federal Railways unveiled the timetable for 2021. In addition to various inland tweaks, the new schedule brings swifter links from Zurich to Milan (3:17) and Munich (ca. 4hrs). From Zurich there will be ten direct trains to Milan; from Basel, five.

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Belgium Investigates Credit Suisse over hidden Bank Accounts

Credit Suisse

The investigation by federal prosecutors is at the information-gathering stage, looking for evidence of money laundering and whether the Swiss bank acted as an illegal financial intermediary, a spokesman for the prosecutors said on Monday. However, no formal charges have been brought.

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Why is Switzerland so expensive?

Why is Switzerland so expensive

You might have experienced it first-hand, or even just heard the legendary tales: Switzerland is eye-wateringly pricey. But do the people earning a Swiss wage see these sky-high costs the same way? Get this question and many others answered in this episode of ‘Switzerland Explained’ by SWI swissinfo.ch.

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How do you separate the good companies from the bad apples?

Our regular analysis of what the biggest global companies in Switzerland are up to. This week: dubious gold origins, luxury watch straps, and vaccine deals. Gold refineries are under scrutiny for sourcing gold from Dubai traders with questionable ties to illegal mines in Africa. But is it fair to lump all refineries into one basket of bad apples?

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Traditional working model hampers Swiss women’s careers

Swiss women are losing out when it comes to achieving managerial positions compared to their male colleagues and female peers from other countries. The common Swiss working model of women taking over childcare and men working full-time makes it harder for Swiss mothers to climb up the career ladder.

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Swiss International Air Lines’ turnover halved due to coronavirus

The economic repercussions of the coronavirus have caused turnover at SWISS to fall by 55% in the first half of 2020. With a turnover of CHF1.17 billion ($1.28 billion) between January and the end of June, the carrier suffered an operating loss of CHF266.4 million in the first half of the year, following an operating profit of CHF245.3 million a year earlier.

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Pandemic crashed demand for hotels and trains

The number of overnight stays in Swiss hotels practically halved in the first six months of the year. Covid-19 also hit demand for public transport, with passengers notching up a third of their normal distances by train in the past three months.

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Swiss care homes and hospitals charged for mouldy masks

Expired, foul-smelling masks cost nearly a franc apiece for facilities in canton Bern at the start of the coronavirus crisis. As a healthcare worker told Swiss public radio, SRF, on Monday, some of the masks they had received earlier this year had to be recalled because they were covered in mildew.

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Swiss humanitarian trade deal with Iran faces delay, questions 

Swiss “good offices” between Tehran and Washington have brought about a humanitarian aid channel allowing Swiss-based companies to send medicines and other vital goods to Iran despite US sanctions. But it remains to be seen to what extent the now-delayed deal will help the Iranian people versus Swiss political and economic interests. 

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Swiss banks eye Hong Kong clients for pro-democracy ties

Global wealth managers are examining whether their clients in Hong Kong have ties to the city’s pro-democracy movement, in an attempt to avoid getting caught in the crosshairs of China’s new national security law, according to six people with knowledge of the matter.

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Embattled Swiss watch industry targets mainland China

The absence of tourists due to Covid-19 will have significant negative repercussions on the Swiss watch industry. In an attempt to make up for this loss of income, manufacturers are focusing their activities more on mainland China as well as easing off the bling.

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Biggest Swiss-based arms manufacturers revealed

Exporting arms is big business for Switzerland, but who are the actual manufacturers and exporters? After a five-year legal dispute, names can finally be published. Swiss companies exported CHF501 million ($530 million) in war materiel in the first half of 2020, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) said on Tuesday, almost twice as much as the same period in 2019.

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Julius Baer to offer private equity to ultra-wealthy clients

Julius Baer has poached a senior executive from rival Swiss wealth manager UBS to set up a new division offering private equity and debt investments to its ultra-wealthy clients. The move illustrates how a prolonged period of low interest rates has forced the likes of UBS and Credit Suisse to prioritise offering illiquid private investments to their super-rich clients, who agree to forgo access to their capital in the hope of achieving higher returns.

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Doubts over EU regulations deal raise prospect of higher City costs

On a Monday morning, just over a year ago, investment firms across the EU found they were no longer allowed to trade on the Swiss stock exchange. It happened almost overnight — simply because Brussels refused to extend a regulatory “equivalence” deal with Switzerland, which gave each side free access to the other’s markets.

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Travel destinations seek tourists, but not the crowds

Some popular travel destinations have enjoyed the break – however temporary – from tourist crowds following Covid-19 restrictions. Others hope the hordes will return soon. Switzerland had not yet opened its border with Italy when its southern neighbour unexpectedly announced that Swiss citizens could enter the country starting on June 3.

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Motorway station supplier goes into liquidation

A company that supplies Swiss motorway service stations and convenience stores has gone into liquidation after failing to find new investors. Some 144 jobs at Lekkerland Switzerland are now at risk of disappearing by the end of the year.

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Swiss sustainable finance: world leader or wishful thinking?

The Swiss financial centre wants to take a lead in ethical investing. NGOs, however, fear the banks are more interested in cashing in than saving the planet. One thing everyone agrees on is the need for a universal definition of sustainable finance and measures to oversee the sector.

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Fewer cows, more cars: Switzerland misses its emission targets

Switzerland’s emissions have declined over the last 30 years, but not enough to meet the national targets set for 2020. What’s behind the gap? By 2020, greenhouse gas emissions in Switzerland should be down by 20% from what they were in 1990. That’s the target outlined in the federal CO2 law.

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Swiss government extends coronavirus economic support

The Federal Council is extending short-term unemployment benefits by another six months and plans to help cushion financial losses faced by public transport. On Wednesday, the government announced that it is extending the maximum period for receiving partial unemployment support from 12 to 18 months to counteract a rise in unemployment.

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SWISS slowly expands web of destinations from Zurich and Geneva

Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) has published its flight schedules up to October 24, the end of the summer timetable. As well as resuming service to more network destinations, it plans to intensify its frequencies on routes already restored in both its short-haul and long-haul networks.

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Tally Weijl to close quarter of stores

Swiss fashion chain Tally Weijl will close 200 of its 800 stores internationally and withdraw completely from Bulgaria. In Switzerland, it will close between five and ten of its 81 stores. However, the company says it has secured financing.

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Hands-off regulation of sustainable finance draws mixed response

Extra rules will only be imposed on the sustainable finance sector if banks fail to properly police themselves, says the Swiss government. The hands-off regulatory approach to ethical investing has been welcomed by financial players, but criticised by NGOs. Unveiling a report on sustainable finance on Friday, Finance Minister Ueli Maurer said legislators would stay in the background as a last resort measure.

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Swiss gold industry oversight too weak, say auditors

The Swiss gold refining industry has once again come under scrutiny with a report that criticises the lack of control over imports of the precious metal. The Federal Audit Office says it is too easy for illegal imports to enter the country and that sanctions are inadequate.

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Audit office denies ‘mass phenomenon’ of Covid-19 credit abuse

An interim report on government pay-outs to businesses during the Covid-19 crisis has revealed that there is suspected abuse in less than 1% of cases. Тhe Federal Audit Office investigated some 94,000 coronavirus loans amounting to CHF11.4 billion ($12 billion). It found indications of abuse in about 400 cases, which amounts to about CHF88 million in guarantees.

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Job postings fall by 27 percent due to pandemic

New job offers have dropped by over a quarter in Switzerland due to the Covid-19 pandemic, with hotel, restaurant, and personal services sectors worst hit. Between April and June, job postings went down by 27%, the human resources firm Adecco Switzerland reported on Tuesday.

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A Swiss-Japanese alliance that has thrived in the crisis

It was the start of one of the most unusual cross-cultural marriages when Roche bought a controlling stake in Chugai Pharmaceutical for $1.4bn back in 2002, promising arm’s length management. In the course of the 18 months of negotiations it took to reach a deal, Chugai, a Japanese pioneer in biotechnology, presented a single sheet of paper with a list of conditions it would not budge on, the main ones being management autonomy and the continued listing of its shares in Tokyo.

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Swiss public transport expected to lose CHF1.5 billion due to Covid-19

The collapse in the number of commuters and other passengers on Swiss trains and buses due to the pandemic is likely to leave a big hole in the finances of public transport companies. The Le Matin Dimanche and SonntagsZeitung newspapers reported on Sunday that Alliance SwissPass, the national public transport organisation, expects the number of yearly national train passes to fall by 6% and half-price annual passes to drop by 1% by the end of the year.

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SoftBank invests in Credit Suisse funds financing technology bets

SoftBank has quietly poured more than $500m into Credit Suisse investment funds that in turn made big bets on the debt of struggling start-ups backed by the Japanese technology conglomerate’s Vision Fund. SoftBank made the investment into the Swiss bank’s $7.5bn range of supply-chain finance funds, said three people familiar with the matter.

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100 Swiss watch brands risk extinction due to coronavirus, expert says

The coronavirus crisis could eliminate up to 100 Swiss watch brands from the market, according to an expert interviewed by the German-language weekly NZZamSonntag. Production came to a standstill during the pandemic and the most important export markets collapsed. Whether tourists with purchasing power will return to Switzerland remains in question. The watch industry, notes the newspaper, has been “caught in the perfect storm”.

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Swiss forests are healthy but need better management

Despite threats such as drought and insects, Swiss forests are better equipped to handle natural hazards than they were a decade ago. Not content to mind her own business, Susan studied journalism in Boston so she’d have the perfect excuse to put herself in other people’s shoes and worlds. When not writing, she presents and produces podcasts and videos.

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Expats in Switzerland need even deeper pockets

Three Swiss cities – Zurich, Bern and Geneva – are among the ten most expensive in the world for expatriates, according to the annual Cost of Living survey by consultants Mercer. Hong Kong remains at the top of the list of 209 countries for the third year in a row. Six of the top ten are in Asia, three in Switzerland and one in the United States.

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Swiss develop first see-through mask

A fully transparent surgical mask that filters out germs but allows facial expressions to be seen has been developed by Swiss scientists. Caregivers should be able to wear them from the summer of 2021.

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Lockdown led to big jump in worker productivity

Thanks to more focus and flexibility, productivity per worker increased by up to 16% during the Covid-19 lockdown in Switzerland, a study has calculated. The study by the Swiss Trade Association (SGV), reported in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, found that while hours worked dropped by 10% in the first quarter of 2020, GDP sank by just 2.6%.

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NGOs urge Swiss banks to ease developing country debt

A group of 11 NGOs has called on Swiss banks and government ministries to consider offering relief on billions in debt owed by developing nations. The consortium says that the coronavirus pandemic has increased economic pressure on the poorest countries.

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‘Green’ aviation fuel aims to power planes by 2030

The Covid-19 pandemic has overshadowed the climate crisis, but with the gradual return of consumption and travel, concerns about global warming are resurfacing. A Swiss start-up is developing an aviation fuel produced solely with water, solar energy and CO2. Will this emission-neutral fuel put an end to “flight shame”?

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2021 Geneva Motor Show ‘very uncertain’ as organisers reject loan

The 2021 edition of the Geneva International Motor Show remains touch and go after the organisers rejected the terms surrounding a state rescue loan. This year’s car show was cancelled four days prior to its opening due to the coronavirus outbreak, costing an estimated loss of CHF11 million ($11.3 million) for the organisers of Switzerland’s largest public event.

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Swiss industry endured horror April during pandemic peak

Swiss watch exports slumped by over 80% last month, recording sales of just CHF329 million ($339 million) – compared with CHF1.76 billion in April 2019. Both exports and imports in all industries endured a predictably dire performance as Covid-19 resulted in national lockdowns.

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Coronavirus fuels Swiss bicycling surge

While demand for public transport collapsed during Switzerland’s partial lockdown, bicycle usage soared across the country. But greater acceptance of cycling nationwide will depend on further political decisions and transport planning.

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Airfare refunds remain a sticking point

The head of a major Swiss travel agency has complained that Swiss International Air Lines (SWISS) is not helping to reimburse clients fast enough. In the event of cancellations such as those prompted by the Covid-19 pandemic, Swiss package tour operators are legally obliged to provide refunds. But according to Thomas Stirnimann, the chief executive officer of Hotelplan, SWISS is not repaying the travel agents promptly.

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Poll: 70 percent of residents back ‘SwissCovid’ tracing app

A Swiss smartphone app that uses Apple-Google technology to help trace coronavirus infections has widespread support among the population, a new survey shows. Around 70% of Swiss residents welcome the introduction of the decentralised contact tracing application DP-3T, according to a poll published on Monday by the research consultancy Sotomo.

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Swiss finance minister concerned about Covid-19 debt crisis in Europe

Ueli Maurer has warned that the financial crisis following Covid-19 and the resulting instability in Europe are a danger for Switzerland. In an interview with public broadcaster RTS on Tuesday, he said that he is concerned about the repercussions on Switzerland of a possible debt crisis in certain countries, especially Italy.

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National Bank snubs calls for more coronavirus money

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has dismissed demands to increase its payout to help the economy cope with the costs of the coronavirus pandemic. Governing board member Andréa Maechler an additional financial contribution would counteract monetary policy.

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Minister calls for extra funds for Swiss unemployment system

Economics Minister Guy Parmelin says it is crucial to end the lockdown and prevent a collapse of the unemployment scheme to ensure Switzerland’s economic recovery from the coronavirus crisis. Parmelin said the government would decide on an injection of additional funds into the state unemployment scheme at one of its next meetings.

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Swiss rank high in energy index

Switzerland has placed second in a global index comparing current energy systems and readiness for the transition to cleaner sources. In its new Energy Transition Indexexternal link, the World Economic Forum (WEF) identifies the coronavirus pandemic as a serious threat to the switch to renewable energies.

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Price watchdog criticises cost of becoming Swiss

Naturalisation fees vary among Switzerland’s 26 cantons. This has caught the eye of the federal price watchdog, who doubts that the fees fall within the legal framework. The law on Swiss citizenship stipulates that “the fees may not amount to more than is required to cover costs”. But for price watchdog Stefan Meierhans this is “more than questionable”, as he writes in his newsletter on Thursday. 

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SWISS publishes flight timetable for June

After grounding most of its fleet because of Covid-19, Swiss International Air Lines will partially restart its flight operations in June and plans to operate up to 190 flights from Zurich and Geneva to 41 European destinations. The return to the skies would follow in stages, and the range of flights available will gradually be increased over the coming weeks, SWISS said on Thursday, announcing its timetable for June.

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Top Swiss firms pay respects to ‘formative’ business leader Fritz Gerber

Pharmaceutical giant Roche and Zurich Insurance have paid their respects to business executive Fritz Gerber, who passed away on Sunday at the age of 91. “Fritz Gerber was one of the most influential business leaders in Switzerland during a period of formative development for the country’s modern, open economy,” Zurich Insurance said in a statement on Monday.

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Falcon exits Swiss private banking after 1MDB scandal

The Abu Dhabi-owned Falcon private bank says it is winding down activities in Switzerland and is in talks with a Swiss rival to take on its existing clients next year. Falcon was taken to task by regulators in both Switzerland and Singapore for its role in channelling assets from the Malaysian 1MDB fraud.

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Economic cost of pandemic will be enormous: SNB chief

Coronavirus is costing between CHF11 billion and CHF17 billion a month, putting such a strain on the Swiss economy that it will take years to recover. Swiss National Bank (SNB) chairman Thomas Jordan has predicted the worst depression since the 1930s.

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Swiss customs uncover blackmarket animal drugs scam

More than 200 farmers, many in Switzerland, are suspected of buying illegal medicaments for their livestock from a French blackmarket dealer. Swiss customs uncovered the scam when the veterinarian was stopped at the border with his car full of animal drugs.

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Swiss tourism industry struggling for survival

The Swiss tourism industry will take five years to recover from the coronavirus pandemic with around a quarter of companies in the sector fearing for their future. However, Martin Nydegger, head of Switzerland Tourism, believes something can still be salvaged for the industry this year.

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Swiss authorities resort to use of spyware for the first time

The annual report on Swiss surveillance operations in 2019 mentions the use of state-controlled monitoring software, known as GovWare, for the first time since it was authorised in 2018. The criminal prosecution authorities and the Federal Intelligence Service (FIS) reported the use of spyware for the first time with 12 such completed interventions before the end of 2019.

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What does business look like in a post-lockdown world?

“Our analysis of what the biggest global companies in Switzerland are up to. This week: the new normal for business, luxury watches, and biotech dilemmas.” Switzerland is easing up on the lockdown but what the new normal looks like for big companies is still a work in progress.

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Students’ finances affected by coronavirus lockdown 

Most Swiss students rely on part-time jobs during their studies, but the shutting of restaurants, bars, cinemas and gyms during the coronavirus pandemic has led to many of them losing a source of income. Around three quarters of students have a part-time job during their studies, with around half of them working on average two days a week, according to the Federal Statistical Office’s last figures.

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How Swiss cobalt traders are trying to prevent child labour

Swiss cobalt traders Glencore and Trafigura deal very differently with small-scale miners in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), many of whom are children. Eight kilograms of cobalt are needed for every electric car battery. More than 70% of the increasingly sought-after metal is mined in the southeast of the DRC. But most of the miners are not employed by mining companies.

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Global associations call for more flights to transport mail

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) and the Universal Postal Union (UPU) have asked governments to increase air capacity for postal services.  A 95% decrease in passenger flights coupled with an almost 30% increase in online purchasing is putting pressure on postal services delivering international mail, the UPU and IATA said in a statement on Monday.  They warned that air capacity for postal services is insufficient to meet demand.

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United States regulator approves Roche’s Covid-19 antibody test

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has given emergency approval for use of the serological test developed by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, the company announced on Sunday. The test is designed to determine whether a person has been exposed to the new coronavirus and developed antibodies against the disease.

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Swiss airlines to get almost CHF2 billion corona aid boost

The Swiss aviation sector, including the airlines SWISS and Edelweiss, is set to receive financial aid of almost CHF1.9 billion to help it through the liquidity crisis caused by Covid-19. Some CHF1.275 billion ($1.31 billion) is directly for the two airlines, while up to CHF600 million will be for other companies vital to the functioning of the sector, the government announced on Wednesday.

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Swiss oil traders and banks burned by Venezuela ties

Several Swiss companies and banks have found themselves in the line of fire as the United States ramps up pressure on the Venezuelan government. Washington has sanctioned numerous top officials for money laundering and drug trafficking in the oil-rich but economically flailing Latin American nation.

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‘Corona-compliant’ Alpine cow processions to go ahead

The traditional driving of cows up to mountain pastures for the summer will still take place this year in Appenzell, northeastern Switzerland, despite the coronavirus pandemic. However, the processions will not be publicised so as not to attract tourists and spectators.

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Recognition for our report from the Swiss mountains

A longform report that we published last autumn has been shortlisted for the Swiss Press Award. The nomination is an honour for our team. Can people in Switzerland really live and work wherever they want on account of the digital revolution? Even in the mountains? A longform multimedia report by SWI swissinfo.ch has the answer.

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Stockpiling – a Swiss civic duty

During the coronavirus pandemic, panic buying has not been too problematic in Switzerland. But in previous global crises the Swiss tended to rush to the shops to stock up. Encouraged by the authorities, keeping emergency supplies remains a well-ingrained tradition for Swiss citizens.

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Former UBS boss Marcel Ospel dies aged 70

Ospel, who was ousted from his job as chairman of UBS in 2008 after fallout from the US subprime mortgage crisis, passed away on Sunday due to cancer. Born in Basel in 1950, Ospel began his career in 1977 with the Swiss Bank Corporation, an investment bank, before later engineering its merger with UBS in 1998.

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Record year for money laundering tip-offs

The number of reports of suspected money laundering jumped by about 25% in Switzerland last year. According to the Federal Money Laundering Reporting Officeexternal link, 7,705 reports were filed in 2019, compared to 6,126 the previous year.

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Swiss running low on butter

A shortage of frozen butter in Switzerland has the industry wanting to import 1,000 tons. Dairy farmers disagree. On Thursday an umbrella group for the dairy sector announced that it had applied to the federal authorities for permission to import 1,000 tons of butter.

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Switzerland facing biggest economic slump since 1975

In a revised forecast in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, federal authorities predict GDP will contract by 6.7% in 2020 and recover slowly in 2021. On Thursday, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) announced that it had adjusted 2020 economic forecasts to take into account sporting events affected by the pandemic.

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How Swiss drones and robots are changing farming

Remote sensing, big data, artificial intelligence and robotics are being integrated into everyday farm management. Based on information relayed by a Swiss start-up, the owner of a sugar mill in India tells local cane farmers it’s almost time to harvest their crop.

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Is Venezuela’s gold a liability for Switzerland?

Venezuela is illegally mining and trading in gold, and Switzerland could be one of its clients, according to Swiss media reports. swissinfo.ch spoke to law enforcement, customs and financial authorities to find out whether they are taking action.

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Coronavirus called a ‘decisive test’ for the UN system  

The pandemic is testing the limits of the United Nations system, say Geneva and New York-based experts, amid funding challenges and an ongoing blame game between the United States and China. The UN is marking its 75th anniversaryexternal link this year. What could have been a year of celebration is becoming a year of crisis.

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Interest groups present demands for coronavirus exit plans

Political parties, trade unions and other interest groups have published their proposals for the government to relax restrictions introduced to stem the Covid-19 pandemic. The calls come a day ahead of the government’s decision on a nationwide coronavirus exit strategy, notably a staggered resumption of business activities and the reopening of schools.

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Pandemic takes a heavy toll on consumer confidence 

Switzerland’s consumer confidence index plummeted to a “historically low” level in April, according to a Wednesday statement from the Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). The index fell to -40 points, compared to -9 points in January, when the previous survey was conducted. That marks the lowest results since the early 1990s.

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Covid-19 therapy could come by end of year, vaccine in 2021

Swiss pharma and business insiders predict that an effective drug therapy against Covid-19 will be available by the end of this year, but a vaccine might take a year longer than that. “In the best-case scenario, a drug could be available before the end of 2020,” said on Monday Francesco De Rubertis, director and co-founder of Medicxi, a Geneva-based venture capital company that invests in biotechnology.

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Ranking finds Swiss cities less expensive

Zurich and Geneva are still among the world’s ten most expensive cities, but both have slid down the rankings since last year. The full effect of the coronavirus crisis remains to be seen. In the Economist Intelligence Unit’s annual report comparing the cost of living in cities around the world, Zurich is tied for 5th place with Paris; in 2019 it ranked 4th.

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Cradle of agriculture in the Amazon region much older

People began growing manioc and squash much earlier than previously thought, a team of researchers led by the Swiss university of Bern has found. A study shows that the earliest human inhabitants of Moxos plains began transforming the tropical savanna eco-region in Bolivia 10,000 years ago, that is 8,000 earlier than previously thought.

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New debt relief measures on the horizon for struggling firms

The Swiss government is examining plans to stave off bankruptcies of companies struggling with the fallout of the coronavirus crisis. But regular debt collection procedures will resume on April 20. Justice Minster Karin Keller-Sutter said the aim was to stabilise the economy and to secure jobs.

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Swiss consortium launches bitcoin on Tezos blockchain

A consortium of Swiss cryptocurrency companies has incorporated bitcoin onto the Tezos blockchain. The move brings Tezos, which has based its foundation in Switzerland, a step closer to rival blockchain Ethereum. Launched in 2018, the Tezos blockchain was designed to play host to a new generation of decentralised finance, business and social projects.

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Swiss economy could lose up to CHF35 billion to pandemic

Coronavirus will cost the Swiss economy CHF22 billion ($22.7 billion) in lost productivity in the best-case scenario, economists have warned. Losses could easily mount up to CHF35 billion between March and June. A nationwide lockdown of non-essential high street shops and services has been accompanied by partial closures of industrial plants in some cantons.

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Swiss firm helps reduce shortage of disinfectant in Bavaria

The Swiss chemical company Clariant has started monthly production of two million litres of disinfectant at its facilities in neighbouring Germany amid the coronavirus pandemic. In a joint venture with Germany’s CropEnergies, Clariant is using its available infrastructure in Bavaria to blend the necessary ingredients, notably ethanol, into disinfectant, the Swiss company said.

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Government urged to do more to help companies

The Swiss government should scale up its efforts to help businesses overcome the coronavirus crisis, according to the director of the KOF Swiss Economic Institute. Transport companies are also calling for more assistance.

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Recession is unavoidable, reckon Swiss finance bosses

The coronavirus pandemic has fundamentally changed the economic outlook for Switzerland within a very short period of time, with Swiss CFOs more pessimistic than ever before. Neither during the euro crisis nor during the Swiss franc shock were chief financial officers as negative about economic prospects as they are today, according to the latest half-yearly survey published on Monday by consultants Deloitte.

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Swiss hospitals reportedly running out of money

Cash-strapped Swiss hospitals, in the front line of the fight against coronavirus, are calling for financial help and an end to the ban on non-emergency procedures which has sapped revenue, reports the SonntagsZeitung newspaper. It quotes the director of Valais Hospital Hugo Burgener as saying “we need liquidity to pay salaries”, and writes that the Graubünden cantonal hospital will also have to raise an additional CHF20 million ($20 million) in the next few days.

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Swiss watch exports predicted to fall by 25 percent in 2020

The closure of shops caused by the spread of the coronavirus worldwide will cost Swiss watch firms dear, but exports are expected to rebound next year. “The Swiss watch industry will experience the largest decline in the past 50 years,” says a study published by private bank Vontobel on Wednesday.

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Helping people to breathe

Production has been stepped up at a company in eastern Switzerland that makes breathing machines, as health services struggle to help a growing number of coronavirus patients. Switzerland is one of the countries most affected by the virus, with more than 17,800 positive tests and more than 488 deaths.

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Around 20,000 healthcare workers seek partial unemployment benefits

With the ban on non-emergency surgeries and other procedures, some hospitals and medical practices are applying for partial unemployment support for at least 20,000 healthcare workers. On Thursday, the German language paper TagesAnzeiger reported that due to the social distancing restrictions and ban on non-urgent medical procedures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, some doctors and other healthcare professionals don’t have enough work.

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Swiss commodities sector grapples with Covid-19 turbulence

The strategic importance of commodities and experience in handling fluctuations has helped commodity firms weather the coronavirus storm better than most. swissinfo.ch caught up with Florence Schurch, general secretary of The Swiss Trading and Shipping Association (STSA), to find out how the commodities sector is handling the crisis and what it means for Switzerland.

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Businesses reach out to people at home

While most businesses have temporarily shut down, others are starting up or finding new ways to reach the public in their homes. Some Swiss farm shops, like Thierry Miauton’sexternal link in Oleyres, canton Fribourg, are delivering local produce to people’s doorsteps, so the clients don’t have to risk possible contact with virus-contaminated shoppers in supermarkets.

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EasyJet Switzerland seeks state aid as virus empties skies

Airlines around the world are battling to survive the coronavirus pandemic. After grounding its fleet of planes on Monday, EasyJet Switzerland has confirmed that it is hoping to receive Swiss state aid. EasyJet said on Monday that it had grounded its fleet of 344 planes and had no clear idea when it might resume flights. In Switzerland, the airline normally operates flights to Geneva, Basel-Mulhouse and Zurich airports.

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Swiss real estate market suffers fallout from epidemic

The Covid-19 crisis could spell an end to the previously rosy situation for Switzerland’s real estate investors. Investors in residential property look back on a successful 2019 both in terms of value increase and of returns. Forecasts for the current year were optimistic until recently, for both property owners and renters.

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Swiss firms rush to claim emergency coronavirus loans

A third of a CHF20 billion ($21 billion) fund offering state guaranteed loans to small and medium sized Swiss companies has been used up just four days after being introduced. The loan facility has already promised CHF6.6 billion in funding of up to CHF500,000 to nearly 32,000 firms – an average of CHF207,000 per company.

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Record exports drive up Swiss chocolate sales

The value of Swiss chocolate exports topped CHF1 billion ($1.05 billion) for the first time last year, led by increased demand from Canada, the United States, China, the Middle East and Singapore. Domestic consumption of the delicacy also grew slightly following declining demand in previous years. Sales for Swiss chocolate makers rose 2.2% in 2019 to reach almost CHF1.79 billion.

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France drops blocks on face mask exports to Switzerland

After Germany, France has lifted restrictions on the delivery of hygienic face masks to Switzerland. Some two million masks are needed each day, according to the Federal Office for Public Health. The French embassy to Switzerland made the announcementexternal link on Saturday, paving the way for two shipments of FFP2 hygienic masks to go ahead from France to Switzerland.

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Coronavirus: Why staying home is merely a recommendation in Switzerland

Readers of swissinfo.ch have many questions about the way the Swiss are handling the pandemic. In this first collection of answers, we tackle social distancing measures and how the population is taking them onboard. Switzerland has progressively tightened measures aimed at limiting the spread of Covid-19 across the country.

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Companies contemplate bleak coronavirus outlook

Swiss companies are reporting slumping sales, cashflow problems and bottlenecks in the supply of crucial materials as the coronavirus crisis hits the economy. However, a survey also found that three out of four firms are satisfied with a CHF42 billion ($43 billion) state bailout package.

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Global curbs on medical exports imperil poor nations

Around 50 countries have introduced curbs on exports of medical supplies, including ventilators. This poses a major risk for poor countries, a Swiss study has revealed. The past fortnight has seen nations around the world scrambling for medical supplies and equipment to combat the fast-spreading coronavirus.

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Big reductions in Swiss public transport services

Swiss public transport has been widely reduced as of Monday, with the Federal Railways cutting back on services as part of nationwide anti-coronavirus measures. The scaling back of Europe’s most-used rail network in an effort to combat the spread of Covid-19 was announced last week as part of wider measures to reduce social contact and slow down the pace of life in the country.

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Swiss hospitals take French coronavirus patients

Three Swiss hospitals have agreed to provide intensive care treatment for six seriously ill coronavirus patients from the neighbouring Alsace region of France. However, experts fear that Switzerland’s health infrastructure will soon be stretched by the rising number of pandemic victims.

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‘We will come through this together’

The upheaval caused by the coronavirus, Covid-19, is all around us. And I know many are anxious, worried and confused. That’s absolutely natural. We are facing a health threat unlike any other in our lifetimes. Meanwhile, the virus is spreading, the danger is growing, and our health systems, economies and day-to-day lives are being severely tested.

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Shortage of hospital beds in Ticino as virus toll rises

The Swiss health authorities have raised alarm over the limited care facilities in one of its regions hardest hit by the coronavirus epidemic. “The situation in Ticino is dramatic,” said Daniel Koch of the Federal Office of Public Health at a news conference on Thursday.

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Banks lobby regulators to relax post-crisis rules

The global banking industry is demanding regulators relax or delay a raft of post-crisis rules on everything from capital and liquidity to accounting and climate change, which they argue are hampering their ability to respond to the coronavirus crisis.

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Coronavirus catches managers off guard

The coronavirus has laid bare the fragilities and complex dependencies generated by globalisation. American-Swiss professor Suzanne de Treville, a specialist in helping firms relocate their industrial activities to the west, hopes that this crisis will trigger some major soul-searching.

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Enough food for months, government assures

The Swiss authorities say there are food stocks available to consumers for more than four months to cope with the current coronavirus epidemic. “There is no reason to panic over food,” the government’s delegate for national economic supply, Werner Meier, said in an interview published on Wednesday in various newspapers belonging to the CH Media group.

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Swiss industry fears consequences of US travel ban

A United States ban on travellers from Europe has been condemned as “incomprehensible” by leading Swiss manufacturing association, Swissmem. The Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce has also weighed in, saying firms would seriously suffer if borders remain closed for longer than a month.

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Swiss lawyers seek to keep special ‘advisor’ status in the shadow economy

The Swiss government faces resistance to efforts to tighten anti-money laundering rules that close loopholes for lawyers who act as “advisors” in setting up offshore financial structures. Anti-corruption expert Mark Pieth writes how the lawyer lobby in Switzerland is trying to maintain their special status at the expense of Switzerland’s attempts to improve its reputation as a laundering haven.

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How will we judge multinationals when the epidemic is over?

Our regular analysis of what the biggest global companies in Switzerland are up to. This week: responsible business in an epidemic, child labour on coffee farms, and Responsible Business debate. What has made multinational companies in Switzerland so successful is exactly what is making them particularly vulnerable in a global epidemic.

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Online shopping breaches CHF10 billion mark

Swiss shoppers spent more than CHF10 billion ($11 billion) online last year, an increase of 8.4% from 2018, according to a study of retail habits. Electronics and fashion goods dominated orders. Food accounted for just 2.8% of the total goods consumed (up from 1.8% in 2018), but the report’s authors expect orders to increase this year with people reluctant to go to supermarkets in view of the coronavirus outbreak.

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No ‘ghost flights’ to Zurich airport, authorities say

With passenger numbers down due to Covid-19, some airlines want authorities to loosen rules maintain that airport landing slots are lost unless fully used. “Use it or lose it”: regulations state that when an airline is allocated a landing slot, it must use it at least 80% of the time planned, or else risk being stripped of it the following year.

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Roche tells all Spanish staff to work remotely

Swiss pharma giant Roche said on Tuesday it would send all of its 1,200 Spanish employees home starting from Wednesday to work remotely amid the coronavirus outbreak. “The company will maintain its normal activity and will guarantee, as until now, the supply of medicines to hospitals,” Roche said in a statement.

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Swiss hotels poised for big losses after record 2019

The Swiss hotel industry could lose out on up to half a billion francs in 2020 due to the impact of Covid-19, the boss of the country’s tourism body has said. Martin Nydegger of Switzerland Tourism said on Monday that he expects the virus to account for some 2.1 million fewer overnight stays in Swiss hotels this year compared with 2019, amounting to financial losses of CHF532 million ($574 million).

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Chinese economic disruption hits Swiss supply chains

China’s sharp contraction in economic activity over the past month due to the coronavirus epidemic is sending shockwaves across the globe. Switzerland is one of the top ten countries exposed to Chinese supply disruptions, a United Nations report reveals.

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Red Bull profits from Swiss sugar subsidies

The makers of sweet products benefit from the federal subsidies paid to sugar beet farmers in Switzerland. The price of sugar in Switzerland has been on the decline for years. As a result, 400 farmers have quit producing it in recent years. Sugar beet producers receive annual subsidies amounting to CHF36 million ($38 million).

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Swiss business takes on global waste

Mr. Green, a recycling subscription service with a social mission, has been a big hit with busy families and businesses in cities in Switzerland. But can it work in Africa? Swiss entrepreneur Keiran Smith had no connection with Kenya before starting Mr. Green Africa.

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Swiss parliament assumes control of Crypto probe

The Swiss parliament has insisted that it will take control of and merge the ongoing investigations into the Crypto spying affair that has rocked the Alpine nation. On Wednesday, members of the parliamentary control delegation decided to immediately take over the direction of investigation launched by the Federal Council (executive branch) on February 11.

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Unions say anti-EU initiative is bad for workers

Trade unions have come out against the initiative to scrap the freedom of movement agreement with the European Union, saying a “yes” vote would be “an attack on all workers”. Accepting the right-wing proposal would lead to a situation whereby “collective agreements and wage checks would be replaced by an unfettered competition of all against all,” Swiss Trade Union Federation boss Pierre-Yves Maillard said on Monday.

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Who wins and who loses because of negative interest rates?

The Swiss National Bank’s negative interest rates, introduced five years ago, are having an increasingly significant economic and social impact. But despite criticism, the SNB does not want to remove them. It considers the measure necessary to stop the Swiss franc appreciating too much.

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Swiss digital stock exchange offers partners ownership stake

The Swiss stock exchange is offering strategic partners a stake of up to 30% in its new digital assets trading platform. The SDX digital exchange hopes to launch by the end of this year, trading digital shares, bonds and other assets on a distributed ledger technology (DLT) platform.

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Ermotti’s UBS record: solid but not all plain sailing

Sergio Ermotti arrived at UBS in 2011 during a dark chapter in the history of Switzerland’s largest bank. He will depart in November, nine years later, with a reputation for injecting greater stability but not for stamping out controversy. Ironically, UBS arguably faces some greater challenges than cross-town rival Credit Suisse, where earlier this month former CEO Tidjane Thiam was forced to step down unceremoniously following an internal spying scandal.

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New Swiss aid budget proposes more funds but for fewer countries

The Swiss government wants to set aside CHF11.25 billion ($11.43 billion) in development aid for the 2021-2024 period. The governing Federal Council adopted its Strategy for International Cooperation on Wednesday after opening it up for public consultation. It will still have to be approved by parliament.

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Tax on legal weed repealed

The Swiss Federal Court has ruled that cannabis – the legal, low-THC version – should not be subject to the tobacco tax. Responding to the complaints of three cannabis production companies, the court found that there was no legal basis for a 25% tobacco tax on the sales price of cannabis. The tax will be dropped immediately.

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Car emissions rising due to imported guzzlers, says report 

New cars imported into Switzerland have not been respecting the prescribed norms on CO2 emissions, with emission levels actually rising in 2017 and 2018, says a report published on Tuesday. Nearly half of importers failed to meet compulsory targets in 2018, according to the Federal Office of the Environment’s report for parliament. 

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Clariant to cut up to 600 jobs as profit falls

The Swiss specialty chemicals firm Clariant says it will cut up to 600 jobs to save money after a drop in profit in 2019. The firm expects the slow economic situation this year to continue to affect demand. “For 2020, given the current sluggish economic environment and continued adverse foreign exchange conditions, growth will be more limited and additional efficiency measures have been defined for each of the businesses to support the margin increase,” the Basel-based firm said in a statement on Thursday.

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Thiam ‘proud’ of his record as he departs Credit Suisse

Outgoing Credit Suisse chief executive Tidjane Thiam said he was proud of what he has achieved at the bank as it delivered strong 2019 results and a promising start to this year. Thiam handed in his resignation last week after losing the confidence of the board following a spying scandal that had seriously damaged the bank’s reputation. Thursday was Thiam’s last day in office.

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Former Swiss defence minister denies knowledge of Crypto-CIA links

Was former Swiss cabinet minister Kaspar Villiger aware that the Swiss firm Crypto AG was controlled by the CIA? Swiss media say newly released CIA documents support this claim, but the ex-defence minister vehemently denies it. The CIA records are “not correct”, the former defence minister (1989-1995) told Swiss public television, SRF, in a statement published on Wednesday.

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Investigation opened into Swiss encryption firm linked to CIA

The Swiss government has opened an investigation into a decades-old spying affair involving Swiss firm Crypto, following reports by Swiss public broadcaster SRF, German broadcaster ZDF and The Washington Post. The government confirmed on Tuesday that it had opened an investigation into the reports that Crypto, a Zug-based communications encryption firm, was secretly used by the CIA and West German intelligence services for decades.

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Welfare payments in 2018 averaged CHF10,379 per person

Net expenditure on social assistance in Switzerland increased by 1.3% in 2018 compared with the previous year. The government, cantons and municipalities paid out a total of CHF8.4 billion ($8.6 billion). Each recipient of social assistance received an average of CHF10,379, the Federal Statistical Office said in a statement on Tuesday. This is an increase of 2.4% on 2017.

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Credit Suisse chairman hopeful to see out term

The chairman of the Credit Suisse bank says he does not expect to be voted out of office before his term ends next year following the departure of the bank’s CEO on Friday amid a surveillance scandal. Urs Rohner says he has received “clear responses” from shareholders that they back the company board policy to accept CEO Tidjane Thiam decision to step down.

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Switzerland spends more than the EU on education

Switzerland’s public finances rose by 1.7% in 2018 to CHF232.6 billion ($238.8 billion) compared with 2017. As a percentage of the total, Switzerland spent more on education and less on defence than the European Union. The largest budget item remained social protection, costing almost CHF92 billion or 39.4% of the total, the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) said on Thursday.

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Three Credit Suisse investors back Tidjane Thiam in board battle

Credit Suisse’s top shareholders have thrown their support behind chief executive Tidjane Thiam and called on chairman Urs Rohner to quit, in a high-stakes power struggle at the Swiss bank following a spy scandal last year. Relations between Mr Rohner and Mr Thiam have been increasingly strained since revelations that Credit Suisse hired a corporate espionage company to follow Iqbal Khan, a former executive who defected to arch-rival UBS.

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Food bank: a third of Swiss food ‘goes to waste’

About a third of the food produced for Swiss consumption went to waste last year, according to the food bank foundation Schweizer Tafe/Table Suisse. That is the equivalent of 2.6 million tonnes of food. Five percent of the losses occurred in the retail trade. The foundation collected 3,820 tonnes of food that was not for sale but still in perfect condition – a 5.6% increase relative to 2018.

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Study spotlights niche market for solo Chinese tourists

The tourism industry in central Switzerland could benefit from increased efforts to focus on individual holidaymakers from China, according to a study. A report by the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Artsexternal link found that guests from China travelling individually in Europe take a special interest in culinary events and that they are likely to receive information about new offers via their mobile phones. 

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Julius Bär to cut 300 jobs after 2019 profit drop

Julius Bar

Swiss wealth manager Julius Bär will cut 300 jobs this year, its chief executive said on Monday, as it looks to boost profitability after a double-digit percentage earnings fall in 2019. The private bank wants to boost profitability with a new three-year strategy to deal with continued margin pressures, Philipp Rickenbacher said.

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Peru cracks down on illegal gold mining

Wildcat mining has devastated large chunks of the Peruvian Amazon, where gold is extracted and makes its way to the refineries and banks in Switzerland.swissinfo.ch visited the southeastern region of Madre de Dios and spoke to artisanal miners who have benefited from the gold rush to educate their families and create jobs, as well as those who have fallen afoul of the law.

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Sport generates billions for Swiss economy, study finds

Sports-related activities are worth CHF22.2 billion ($22.8 billion) a year to the Swiss economy, a national report has revealed. Overall, sport accounts for 1.7% of Swiss gross domestic product (GDP), according to a report external linkby the Federal Office of Sport released on Tuesday which uses 2017 figures. This is comparable to the machine tools or metal products sectors.

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Swiss venture capital funding breaks CHF2 billion barrier

Swiss start-ups and young companies attracted nearly CHF2.3 billion ($2.4 billion) from deep-pocketed investors last year. The figure is nearly double the CHF1.2 billion collected in 2018 and sets a new record. New ventures in the ICT and fintech sectors received the largest slice of funding (CHF1.2 billion), but financial support for early stage biotech firms also received a significant boost (CHF625 million), according to the annual report from online news portal startupticker.ch and the investor association SECAexternal link.

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Foreign demand remains high for luxury Swiss-made watches

Swiss watch manufacturers exported timepieces worth over CHF21 billion ($21.7 billion) last year – the industry’s third-best result ever. Watchmaking is Switzerland’s third-biggest export sector after pharmaceutical and machine tools. Almost 95% of production is sold abroad, the majority to Asia.

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Zurich Airport looks to Asia to expand its airports business

The company recently won a bid to build and run an airport near India’s capital and has its sights set on other emerging markets in Asia. In November 2019, Zürich Flughafen AG (Zurich Airport) won a 40-year contract to build and operate the planned Noida International Airport in Jewar, located around 80km from the country’s capital, New Delhi. 

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Restructuring at Philip Morris to hit 265 jobs

Tobacco giant Philip Morris says 265 jobs in Switzerland will be affected by restructuring plans, of which almost two-thirds of posts may be transferred to other European sites. After much uncertainty and news speculation, Philip Morris (PMI) confirmed on Monday its restructuring plans at operational centres in Lausanne and Neuchâtel in French-speaking western Switzerland.

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Swiss Economics Minister wants to move US trade deal forward

Talks with US President Donald Trump this week at WEF were useful, says Swiss Economics Minister Guy Parmelin, who is cautiously optimistic about moving trade negotiations forward. “Trump had questions for me. He asked me about trade,” said Parmelin in an interview with the Sonntagszeitung newspaper. “I also informed him about Swiss investments in the United States.

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Federer and world’s smallest gold coin go up for sale 

Another 37,000 coins featuring tennis star Roger Federer – the first living person to receive that honor – went on sale on Thursday, according to Swissmint. Also up for grabs is the “smallest gold coin in the world” inspired by Albert Einstein and a bimetallic coin featuring the European hare.

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Swiss businesses and start-ups set record in 2019

Entrepreneurs are thriving in Switzerland, with a record number of companies launched in 2019 and unprecedented investment pumped into start-ups. Switzerland saw 44,482 companies founded last year, the highest number to date and a 3% increase on 2018, according to the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce. Investments in start-ups also grew strongly in 2019, topping CHF2 billion ($2.06 billion) for the first time.

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Swiss watchdog bans former bank CEO over insider trading

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) has banned the former chief executive officer of a Swiss bank from financial activities over a “serious case of insider trading”. FINMA also ordered the confiscation of CHF730,000 ($752,000) of “unlawfully generated profits” from the ex-CEO, whom FINMA did not name.

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Switzerland remains world’s most attractive country for skilled workers

Switzerland continues to lead the world in talent competitiveness, having held the number one spot since the annual Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) was launched in 2013. According to the 2020 indexexternal link, the three main reasons for Switzerland’s top position are the country’s high quality of life (interesting jobs, high salaries and good career opportunities), its dual education system which combines education with vocational training, and its good legal and economic framework.

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Swiss firms lauded for climate protection measures

Nestlé, Givaudan, Panalpina and the Bern Cantonal Bank are among 179 companies given a top “A” rating in a global survey of transparency and action on climate change. On Monday, non-profit group Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) published its study of 8,000 companies worldwide. Only 2% of them made it onto the A-list, the organisation said.

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Davos 2020: What to watch for at this year’s World Economic Forum

World leaders, chief executives, thinkers and celebrities are gathering in the Swiss mountain town of Davos for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. The event, which begins on Tuesday, has earned a reputation for high-altitude pontificating as the global elite gather to pitch their takes on topics picked by WEF founder Klaus Schwab, from deglobalisation to the fourth industrial revolution.

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How Zurich Airport prepares for Trump visit to Davos

American secret service agents have been granted access to Zurich Airport’s control tower as they prepare for US President Donald Trump’s visit to the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, the NZZ am Sonntag reports. WEF, which starts in the Swiss mountain resort on Monday, attracts wealthy, high-profile business and political figures, along with academics and other leaders of society.

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‘Yes to an initiative promoting moderately-priced housing’

The free market in Switzerland has built housing units that remain empty because they are too expensive, or in out-of-the-way places, says Marina Carobbio Guscetti. The Social Democrat senator believes that the initiative “More affordable housing” will fix these problems. It will help the middle class and the less well-off.

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Swiss franc climbs after US adds it to ‘manipulation’ watchlist

The US Treasury has called on the Swiss government to cut taxes and spend more public money, after it added the country to a watchlist of those it accuses of currency manipulation. The Swiss franc nudged up to a near three-year high against the euro on Tuesday as markets anticipated the move would limit the Swiss National Bank’s appetite for aggressive action to try to hold down its currency in future.

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US places Switzerland on trade ‘watch list’

The US Treasury Department has put Switzerland back on a biannual list of countries that are under observation because of large trade surpluses with the United States. Switzerland was previously included on the Monitoring List between October 2016 and October 2018, “having a material current account surplus and engaged in persistent, one-sided intervention in the foreign exchange market”.

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Signatures collected for vote on tax deduction for parents

Opponents of a proposal to increase tax deductions for parents have succeeded in collecting enough signatures to force a referendum on the subject. On Tuesday the leftwing Social Democratic Party submitted the necessary signatures required to trigger a referendum. The party is opposed to a “tax bonus for rich parents” and collected 60,000 signatures in two-and-a-half months to force a nationwide vote on the reform, approved by parliament last September.

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Swiss scientists make 18-carat ‘plastic gold’

Five years ago researchers at the federal technology institute ETH Zurich developed the lightest gold in the world, which could float on a cappuccino. But there wasn’t much they could do with it. Now they have created 18-carat light gold which can be used for watches, jewellery and electronics.

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Swiss unemployment drops to new low 

The Swiss unemployment rate fell to 2.3% in 2019, according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). That’s the lowest yearly rate for almost 20 years. SECO said in a statementexternal link on Friday that 106,932 people were registered with regional job centres in 2019, 9.5% less than in the previous year.

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Trump to attend World Economic Forum in Switzerland

US President Donald Trump plans to attend the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos this month, making up for an appearance he cancelled during last year’s US government shutdown. White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham confirmed on Wednesday that Trump would attend the annual forum, which attracts wealthy, high-profile business and political figures, along with academics and other leaders of society.

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Swiss unions call for ‘social agenda’ in EU relations

Switzerland’s largest trade union group has repeated its warning that any framework deal reached with the European Union must respect measures to protect wages from cross-border competition. At the annual conference of the Swiss Trade Union Federation on Thursday, the objective of keeping wage measures in place was hammered home by group president Pierre-Yves Maillard.

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‘Farting archaeobacteria’ awarded Swiss energy prize

Flatulent bacteria, electric vehicles and a supply network for greenhouses are among the winners of this year’s Watt d’Or competition organised by the Federal Office of Energy. “What is the link between flatulence and renewable energy?” the energy office asked. “The answer is Archie, the farting archaeobacteria.”

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Swiss National Bank expects profit of CHF49 billion for 2019

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) expects to post an annual profit of CHF49 billion ($50.29 billion) for 2019, it said on Thursday, citing big gains from foreign bonds and stocks bought to dampen the value of the safe-haven Swiss franc. The profit, following a loss of CHF15 billion in 2018, means the central bank will pay out CHF2 billion to the Swiss government and cantons for last year and will hold discussions with the finance ministry on a possible additional distribution for 2019 and 2020.

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Swiss rents fall but property prices increase in 2019

Rents in Switzerland fell by an average of 0.5% last year but some regions bucked the trend. Last year was a good one for tenants, according to the Swiss Real Estate Offer Indexexternal link, which was published on Tuesday. December alone saw rents dropping 0.4% on average. The most significant drops were in central Switzerland (-1.7%), the Lake Geneva region (-1.1%) and northwestern Switzerland (-0.9%).

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Swatch offers compromise in watch movements deadlock

Switzerland’s largest watch maker, Swatch, says it will limit the number of movements it makes for the industry in a bid to end a long-running stand-off with the anti-trust regulator. At the end of last year, the Competition Commission (Comco) temporarily suspended deliveries of watch movements from Swatch’s ETA unit to big rivals from January 1, 2020.

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Revolutionary idea to store green power for the grid

Stacking blocks of concrete with a crane to store energy and use the force of gravity to keep producing electricity when renewable sources are lacking: simple but revolutionary, the battery solution proposed by the Ticino start-up Energy Vault is attracting investors and customers from around the world.

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Mnuchin to head US delegation to Davos

The US delegation at the upcoming World Economic Forum (WEF) gathering in Davos will be led by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. It is unclear whether President Donald Trump will again attend the annual event.

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Technical problem shuts down Swiss nuclear power station

The Leibstadt nuclear power station in northern Switzerland has been disconnected from the power grid and shut down because of a technical fault. Once the cause has been clarified, the plant will be put back into operation as soon as possible, the operator said. It is not clear when that will be.

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Facebook’s Libra has failed in current form, says Swiss president

Facebook’s Libra project needs reworking to be approved, according to the president of Switzerland, where the cryptocurrency is seeking regulatory consent. “I don’t think [Libra has a chance in its current form], because central banks will not accept the basket of currencies underpinning it,” Finance Minister Ueli Maurer, who held the rotating presidency in 2019, told Swiss public radio, SRF.

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Credit Suisse: FINMA appoints independent investigator

The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA says it will have an independent auditor investigate Swiss bank Credit Suisse “in the context of observation activities”. “The observation activities carried out by Credit Suisse raise various compliance issues,” FINMA said in a statement on Friday evening.

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Parliament approves CHF6 billion fighter jet package

The Swiss parliament has approved the purchase of a new fleet of fighter jets to the tune of some CHF6 billion ($6.1 billion). The plans may yet face approval by citizens. Both chambers of parliament have now accepted plans proposed by the government to buy up to 30 new fighter jets, a step it says is vital for the stability and security of the country.

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Parliament rubber stamps free trade deal with Indonesia

The Swiss parliament has given the go-ahead for a free trade deal with Indonesia, although not without debates about sustainability and the Asian country’s production of palm oil. Almost exactly a year after the deal was signed between the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and Indonesia, the Swiss parliament gave its green light on Thursday.

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Swiss railways are becoming safer, new figures show

There has been a fall in the number of accidents and fatalities on the Swiss railways, according to new national figures. On Tuesday, the Federal Statistical Office reported a total of 70 rail accidents and 14 deaths in 2018. This is the lowest number of annual fatalities since 2011. In the 2000s there were between 200 and 282 reported accidents each year and 20-40 deaths, excluding suicides on the Swiss rail network.

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Poverty in Switzerland rises 10 percent in a year 

Although Switzerland is rich, poverty within the country continues to rise, says a report released on Tuesday. Poverty affected 675,000 people including 100,000 children in 2017, a 10% increase on the previous year, according to the report (in French) by the non-governmental organisation Caritas.

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Court rejects Lake Zurich cablecar project

A Zurich court has rejected plans for a cablecar link crossing over Lake Zurich, stating that the project, known as ‘Zuribahn’, did not have sufficient local support. The court annulled construction plans for the city cablecar, which had been presented by Zurich Cantonal Bank (ZKB) to mark the bank’s 150th birthday in 2020.

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Court rejects damages claims against Volkswagen and Swiss importer

A Zurich commercial court has dismissed claims for damages by a consumer group against the German car firm Volkswagen and Swiss importer Amag, linked to the “Dieselgate” emissions-rigging scandal. In a December 6 ruling published on Tuesday, Zurich canton’s commercial court said the SKS consumer group did not have the legal status or procedural capacity to file a complaint.

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Léman Express to cut Geneva traffic jams

Commuters got their first proper taste on Monday of what’s been hailed as the largest cross-border regional rail network in Europe, the Léman Express.The network, which opened officially on Sunday, is the result of decades of planning and almost eight years of construction work. It offers a fast cross-city rail link from Geneva’s central train station to Annemasse in France.

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Novartis withdraws patent claim on leukaemia treatment

Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has backed down in a patent dispute over the leukaemia therapy Kymriah following opposition from NGOs. The Swiss NGO Public Eye is claiming victory in the European Patent Officeexternal link battle, but Novartis says the patent in question was only one of several it has in place on the (CAR)-T cell therapy treatment it had developed together with the University of Pennsylvania.

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Swiss economy tipped to remain stagnant next year

The Swiss economy is not expected to see any sustainable growth until 2021 at the earliest, according to government forecasters. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) agreed, keeping negative interest rates unchanged. A government expert group concluded that economic growth would rise only 0.9% this year, 1.7% in 2020 and 1.2% in 2021.

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Swiss firms’ investments double abroad  

Companies in Switzerland invested double the amount abroad in 2018 than the previous year, figures show. But foreign investors withdrew capital from Switzerland due to a US tax reform. In 2018, companies domiciled in Switzerland invested CHF 61 billion abroad ($62 billion) (compared to CHF30 billion in 2017). Around three-quarters of the direct investment were from firms in the services sector, the Swiss National Bank said on Friday.

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Can Swiss business and human rights co-exist?

Switzerland performs a delicate dance when it comes to promoting business interests, maintaining neutrality and defending human rights. Daniel Warner looks at recent examples and the stakes at play. Doing business with other countries and promoting human rights can and do go hand in hand, Swiss State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Pascale Baeriswyl recently told swissinfo.ch.

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Nestlé identifies over 18,000 child labourers in cocoa supply chain

As part of its monitoring programme, Swiss multinational Nestlé has identified 18,283 children performing “unacceptable” tasks at cocoa farms that supply beans to the company. Over half have been rehabilitated following company intervention. In 2012, Nestlé established a Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System (CLMRS) in partnership with the International Cocoa Initiative (ICI) in the Ivory Coast to identify children at risk of carrying out problematic jobs and to take remediation measures.

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Swiss seek compromise amid ‘lack of will’ at climate talks

This year, the signal from the scientific community has been loud and clear on climate change: something needs to be done, and soon. But leadership at the United Nations’ annual climate conference appears less clear-cut, and the head of the Swiss delegation is frustrated by hesitation to move ahead.

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Swiss asset managers linked to Austrian corruption scandals

Swiss asset managers are involved in some of Austria’s biggest corruption scandals, according to the SonntagsZeitung newspaper. The paper writes that in ongoing cases involving far-right politicians Jörg Haider, Karl-Heinz Grasser and Heinz-Christian Strache, the trail leads back to Zurich, Zug and Nidwalden in Switzerland. It sources this information to a whistleblower.

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French strike disrupts rail traffic with Switzerland 

A national strike in France is causing severe disruptions to high-speed TGV rail traffic between Paris and Switzerland. Swiss Federal Railways issued an advisory discouraging travel along this route from December 5 to 8. Only one TGV train will operate between France and Switzerland on Thursday.

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Environmental spending and jobs on the rise 

Swiss spending on environmental protection has increased 45% in the last eighteen years, while the number of people employed in the sector has almost doubled. Environmental protection spending rose from CHF8.5 billion ($8.6 billion) in 2000 to CHF12.4 billion in 2018, according to the Federal Statistical Officeexternal link. As a percentage of GDP, it has remained rather stable, fluctuating between 1.9% and 1.7%.

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Julius Bär ordered to repay CHF153 million missing German funds

Swiss bank Julius Bär has been ordered to pay CHF153 million ($155 million) to settle a claim that one of its subsidiaries pilfered money from Germany during the reunification of the country in the 1990s. A Swiss court on Wednesday overturned a previous verdict that Julius Bär should not he held responsible. The Swiss wealth manager has been pursued for damages by a German state department that tracks down assets from the former East Germany.

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Record number of new e-cars on Swiss roads

With 10,329 registrations so far this year, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have more new electric passenger cars than ever before. This is the first time the total hit the five-figure mark. The numbers reflect a 136.6% increase over last year’s fleet of new, completely electric passenger cars. What’s more, now e-cars represent 3.7% of all new cars in Switzerland and the principality next door, reported importer association Auto-Schweiz on Tuesday.

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Switzerland’s dark business with Ukrainian coal

Pro-Russian separatists are financing their war in Ukraine with coal deliveries to the West. Now the role of Swiss companies in Zug and Geneva is being investigated, according to a report in the SonntagsZeitung. Fontus AG describes itself on its website as a “reliable and responsible supplier of high-grade solid fuels”, selling “coal of Russian and Kazakh production”.

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Zurich airport company wins huge Indian deal

Flughafen Zürich AG, the operator of Zurich airport, has been selected to design, develop and operate a new airport near the Indian capital after outbidding local companies. The companyexternal link said in a statement on Fridayexternal link it would develop and operate the new Noida International Airport at Jewar in Uttar Pradesh state under a 40-year concession.

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Skilled worker shortage worsens in Switzerland

The shortage of skilled workers on the Swiss job market has become even more acute this year, according to a survey. Finding suitable engineers, technical workers and fiduciaries is particularly difficult. The skilled worker shortage index(PDF), compiled annually by Adecco Switzerland in collaboration with the University of Zurich, measures the occupations in which the number of vacancies is particularly large compared with the number of job-seekers.

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Import duty on cars, clothes and other products may be scrapped

Import duties on various products including cars, clothes, and household appliances are set to be removed in Switzerland. If parliament approves the plan, the measure will enter into force in 2022. Finance Minister Guy Parmelin announced the plan on Wednesday after what the government described as a very positive consultation process with stakeholders.

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Report: it pays for companies to have apprentices

Firms in Switzerland may benefit annually by over CHF3,000 ($3,000) per apprentice when they train their own apprentices, a report has found. The fourth cost-benefit studyexternal link conducted by the Observatory for Vocational Education and Training of the Swiss Federal Institute for Vocational Education and Training (OBS SFIVETexternal link), published on Tuesdayexternal link, revealed that most companies with apprenticeship programmes found it cheaper to train their own skilled workers than to hire them externally.

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Non-EU foreign worker quotas unchanged for 2020

Switzerland will issue 8,500 work visas to non-EU citizens next year – the same number as in 2019. The Swiss government also confirmed an earlier decision that 3,500 British workers will be welcomed in the event of a no-deal Brexit situation.

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Internet-shunning shoppers are almost extinct

Only 3% of adult internet users buy nothing online, with the elderly most likely to stick to bricks-and-mortar shops, according to a survey. Online comparison service Comparis.ch said on Tuesday that whereas 6% of those aged 56-74 were yet to place an order online, the number of abstainers among 18- to 35-year-olds was less than 1%.

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Lugano Airport gets financial lifeline

Lugano authorities have approved a series of loans to help save Lugano Airport in southern Switzerland, allowing it to operate for at least one more year. The regional airport has struggled since the bankruptcy of Darwin Airline and collapse of Adria Airways in September.

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Swiss bankers fined over 1MDB dealings

Two bankers who worked at Coutts private bank in Zurich were fined by the Swiss authorities for failing to report suspicious transactions linked to the sovereign wealth fund 1MDB scandal, it was reported on Sunday. The Sonntag Zeitung and Le Matin Dimanche newspapers reported on Sunday that two Coutts bankers who had dealt with Jho Low, the Malaysian financier allegedly at the heart of the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) scandal, were fined by the Federal Department of Finance in September.

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The $31 million watch and other Swiss price world records

A CHF640 ($645) bar of chocolate is a sign of either the end of civilisation or a healthy market economy. Whatever your view, Switzerland holds several world records when it comes to expensive goods. “As the hammer came down on $31 million (CHF30.6 million), the audience leapt as one to its feet, erupting in wild cheering and thunderous applause,” the Financial Times wrote on November 11 as a world record was set in Geneva for the highest price of a watch at auction.

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Swiss prosecutors search Vitol and Trafigura offices as part of Car Wash probe

Swiss investigators have executed searches at the Geneva offices of commodity traders Vitol and Trafigura at the request of Brazilian federal prosecutors as part of Brazil’s Lava Jato [Car Wash] corruption probe. In a statementexternal link on Thursday, Brazilian federal prosecutors said Swiss investigators had executed “search and seize warrants” at Geneva addresses linked to Vitol and Trafigura on Wednesday.

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20 years of the Vereina tunnel

On November 19, 1999, after eight years of construction, the Vereina Tunnel opened in eastern Switzerland.Connecting the Landquart – Davos Platz and the Bever – Scuol-Tarasp lines, the tunnel is 19 kilometres long and the journey through takes 18 minutes.In 20 years, it has brought various improvements to locals, tourists, and businesses.However, its construction had initially been opposed by some as it was feared that the tunnel would lead to increased road traffic and a decline in the Romansh language.

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Factory lays off workers amid gloomy manufacturing outlook

Swiss precision machine maker Mikron has laid off 25 workers, citing weak demand for its products from the global car industry. The news reflects pessimistic sentiment from Swiss manufacturers and the wider economy. Mikron announced on Tuesday that it would have to reduce headcount at a plant in southern Switzerland from its present level of 370.

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Switzerland excels at attracting talent, but can do better

For the sixth consecutive year, Switzerland clinched the top spot in the annual global ranking of the Lausanne-based IMD business school. The 2019 edition of the IMD World Talent Ranking ranked Switzerland highly in the three areas assessed. It came first in appeal, second in investment and development and second in readiness. Denmark, Sweden, Austria and Luxembourg rounded out the top five.

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Julius Bär takes CHF99 million hit on ailing Italian unit

Swiss wealth manager Julius Bär has downgraded its expectations for attracting new assets from rich clients and announced a CHF99 million ($100 million) write-down on its troubled Italian subsidiary Kairos. Julius Bär issued the warning on Tuesday, less than three months into the tenure of new CEO Philipp Rickenbacher.

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Things the UN does (that you might not know about)

What did the United Nations ever do for us? At the risk of a bit of cliched riffing on that famous scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian, this month’s column is going to take a look at things the UN does that you may not know about. And one thing in particular: promoting fair and equitable access to the internet.

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Ageing population threatens Swiss prosperity, study warns

Switzerland must do more to find employment options for older citizens and increase work productivity says the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco). If not, prosperity for all will decline as the population ages. The median age of the Swiss population has risen to 43 compared to 32 in 1970. By 2060 this will rise further to 48-years-old going by current fertility rates.

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‘We’re green enough’ says Swiss central bank 

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) is doing enough to mitigate climate damage with its investment policy, senior directors have stated. Switzerland’s central bank does not have the mandate to impose environmental conditions on the commercial banking sector.

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Additional funds set aside for transalpine rail transport 

The Swiss government has decided to earmark CHF180 million ($182 million) as part of a package to promote the transfer of heavy-goods transport from road to rail. In its bill to parliament, the government foresees an extension of payments to transport companies using freight trains until 2026 and a decrease in so-called track access charges with CHF90 million each.

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Time limit to exchange old banknotes eliminated

Banknotes as old as 1976 can soon be traded in at the national bank following a decision by the federal government to eliminate the 20-year time limit. The Swiss National Bank (SNB) issues a new series of banknotes every 15 to 20 years and removes the old notes from circulation. Six months later, the old notes don’t have a legal tender and therefore can’t be used as a means of payment.

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Telecom operator Sunrise to pay up for failed deal

Following shareholder pushback, Swiss telecom operator Sunrise has cancelled the purchase contract for the cable network operator UPC, officially burying the controversial deal. This is another failed attempt to challenge industry leader Swisscom.

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Cross-border workers entering Switzerland set record in 2019

The number of people from neighbouring countries commuting to Switzerland for work each day reached a record 325,000 this year. The increase was felt especially in cantons Ticino and Geneva. Following a slight drop in 2018, the Swiss job market is once again attracting cross-border workers in historically high numbers. Some 325,291 peopleexternal link entered the country each day in the third quarter of 2019, beating the previous record of 316,491 set in 2017.

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No Swiss citizenship for WEF founder Schwab, reports say

World Economic Forum founder Klaus Schwab will not be receiving honorary Swiss citizenship, despite the idea having being mooted earlier this year. Such an honorary conferral of the passport has no basis in Swiss law, the Federal Justice Office announced on Tuesday, after it was contacted by the daily Südostschweiz newspaper.

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Billionaires’ club shrinks as economy wobbles

The world lost 57 billionaires last year as economic woes and the unexpected strengthening of the US dollar wiped $388 billion (CHF386 billion) from their combined wealth. Switzerland had three fewer billionaires; the 33 who remain saw their bank accounts shrink by $16 billion.

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Using lake water to help reduce Switzerland’s carbon footprint

Swiss lakes offer huge potential as renewable energy sources that can be used to cool and heat buildings. Geneva is expanding a pioneering thermal exchange project to help meet its climate goals, while other regions are taking the plunge. After transport, the second and third biggest sources of national greenhouse gas emissions are Swiss industry (20% of total in 2017) and households (18%).

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UBS: “Negative interest rates harm Swiss economy”

A survey of Swiss companies commissioned by UBS bank concludes that negative interest rates are harming the wider economy. Switzerland’s largest bank, UBS, asked 2,500 companies about the impact of negative interest rates. “Nearly two-thirds of respondents said that the cost…for the economy outweighed their benefits overall,” UBS said in a press releaseexternal link on Thursday.

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Swiss train problems being solved, says manufacturer

Bombardier says it expects to deliver all 62 double-decker express trains ordered by Swiss Federal Railways by summer 2021. Deliveries should have been made as early as 2013 but have been fraught with technical problems. The trains were ordered in 2010 for a total of CHF 1.9 billion ($1.9 billion), making it the largest contract in the history of rail transport.

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Why is solar power struggling to take off in Switzerland?

Solar energy is the main source of renewable energy in Switzerland, after hydroelectric power. But its potential is far from being exploited, according to industry experts. In 1982 Switzerland became the first country in Europe to connect a photovoltaic plant to the electricity network. Ten years later it inaugurated what at the time was the continent’s largest solar power station.

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Nestlé accused of sourcing palm oil linked to forest fires in Indonesia

The environmental group Greenpeace claims that the Swiss food giant procured palm oil from suppliers linked to around 9,700 fire hotspots in Indonesia this year. A Greenpeace reportexternal link released on Monday examines the supply chain of four major food companies – Nestlé, Unilever, Procter & Gamble and Mondelēz – and compares them to palm oil suppliers that are under investigation for starting illegal fires.

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‘Farinet’ local currency to be withdrawn from circulation

The Farinet – a local currency introduced in canton Valais in 2017 – is to be withdrawn from circulation at the end of 2019 after failing to stimulate the regional economy as hoped. Farinet banknotes were introduced in Valais in western Switzerland in spring 2017. But on Tuesday the association behind the currency announced it planned to withdraw it at the end of this year.

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Switzerland’s growth hampered by trade tensions, economic slowdown

Trade tensions coupled with a slowdown in Europe are likely to take a toll on the Swiss economy over the next two years, the OECD forecasts. The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has revised its growth forecasts downwards for Switzerland. It also recommended Switzerland raise its retirement age.

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Why Nestlé won’t meet its zero-deforestation pledge

When it came under fire from environmental groups over its harvesting of palm oil, Swiss food giant Nestlé committed to eliminating deforestation from its supply chain by next year. But it will take another three years to come close to accomplishing that goal.

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Switzerland calls time on phone booths

The last telephone box in French-speaking Switzerland, on the shores of Lake Geneva, was dismantled on Thursday. Swisscom will remove the one in the country – in Baden, northern Switzerland – on November 28. An era in the history of Swiss telecommunications is thus coming to an end, an era that witnessed millions of declarations of love, tears and banal conversations in the little cabins that once stood on almost every street corner.

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Campaign targets online gambling addicts

An awareness campaign has been launched to help addicted online gamblers in Switzerland cope with their compulsive behaviour. An independent foundation said it published a special digital programme, Gambling without Addiction, with the authorities in most cantons of German-speaking Switzerland.

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General Electric limits job cuts in Switzerland

The American industrial conglomerate General Electric has announced a reduction in the number of planned layoffs at its subsidiaries in Switzerland. The company said a maximum of 200 people would lose their jobs at two of its sites west of Zurich. In June it had announced a figure of some 450.

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Real wages set to rise in Switzerland for first time in three years

Employees in Switzerland are expected to receive above-inflation pay rises for the first time since 2016, according to a survey of companies. On average, workers are forecast to take home a 1.1% pay hike – a rise of 0.9% when taking inflation into account. These are the findings of research portal Lohntendenzen.ch, as reported by the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.

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How pension payments are making Swiss housing unaffordable

Under pressure to invest, Swiss pension funds are ploughing money into real estate, considered a safe and profitable option. As this drives up housing prices, however, desperate residents are fighting back through direct democracy. Building land in central Switzerland is scarce, and apartments and houses expensive, especially in cities.

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Five things to come out of Zuckerberg’s Libra testimony

Mark Zuckerberg testified in front of the US Congress on Wednesday about his company’s plans to launch a new, global digital currency. During a marathon hearing, the Facebook chief executive and founder attempted to change the narrative surrounding Project Libra. The proposed currency has been beset by criticism from regulators and politicians, while support from corporate partners has dwindled.

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Bitcoin billionaire twins to address St Moritz crypto event

Cameron and Tyler Winkelvoss, who made a fortune out of bitcoin, are to deliver a keynote speech at next year’s Crypto Finance Conference in St Moritz. The annual gathering of cryptocurrency entrepreneurs and investors has become a fixture event, running just before the World Economic Forum’s flagship Davos summit.

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Nestlé remains among top plastic polluters in the world

The Swiss food giant has been placed second behind Coca-Cola in an audit of plastic waste by a coalition of environmental organisations. The results of the analysis, released on Wednesday by the Break Free From Plasticexternal link movement, prompted the authors to single out the corporations that finished in the top three for the second year in a row – Coca-Cola, Nestlé and PepsiCo – for having offered “mostly false solutions to the plastics crisis.”

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Japan Tobacco staff protest over job cuts

Almost 100 Japan Tobacco International (JTI) staff protested outside their Geneva headquarters on Tuesday against job cuts. Around a quarter of the Geneva workforce are affected by major restructuring plans. Last month the multinational firm behind cigarette brands like Winston, Camel and Benson & Hedges confirmed restructuring plans and job cuts. Some 268 posts out of 1,100 are due to be cut at the Geneva headquarters.

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Syngenta commits $2 billion to tackle climate change

The Swiss-based agricultural firm has set aside $2 billion (around CHF1.97 billion) over five years to reduce emissions from agricultural practices. The company, which has come under fire for profiting from selling hazardous pesticides abroad, also announced on Tuesday that it will be reducing its carbon footprint by 50% by 2030.

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Swiss remain the richest in the world

The Swiss have pulled away from the pack when it comes to assets per adult, remaining on average the wealthiest citizens in the world. In concrete terms, by mid-2019 assets per adult in Switzerland stood at $564,650 (CHF555,000), an increase of $17,790 over the previous year, according to the tenth Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report, published on Monday.

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Swiss railways see more demand for train trips abroad

Travellers in Switzerland are increasingly taking to the rails for trips abroad, with the Swiss Federal Railways reporting a 10% increase in demand for international journeys and 25% more demand for trips by night train. According to a report in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, demand for night train journeys especially increased on stretches between Switzerland and the German cities of Berlin and Hamburg, while overall demand for international trips rose most on routes to France.

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Technology winning battle against banknote forgers

Swiss banknotes are far more resistant to counterfeiters than in previous years, dramatically reducing the number of fake copies, say federal police. By contrast, far more counterfeit coins were seized last year, probably as a result of better detection methods. In 2018, a record low of 1,200 fake banknotes were discovered by police.

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5G tests Switzerland’s limits on cybersecurity

As more governments mull the risks of working with foreign vendors of 5G networks, eyes are on Switzerland as one of the technology’s early adopters. Will the Swiss take a heavier hand in restricting foreign providers like Huawei in the 5G supply chain or let the market decide? In a grim but not-so-far-fetched scenarioexternal link, a hacker attacks a 5G antenna, sending malicious signals to millions of connected devices.

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Credit Suisse to charge wealthy clients negative interest rates

Credit Suisse has joined the likes of UBS and Post Finance in charging rich clients to park their wealth in its vaults. It will pass on the cost of the central bank’s negative interest rates to both private individuals and corporate accounts above certain thresholds. From November 15, corporate clients will be charged -0.85% interest on cash holdings above CHF10 million ($10 million), Credit Suisse confirmed on Friday.

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Commodities trader Gunvor held criminally liable for corruption

The Geneva-based trading company Gunvor has been ordered to pay almost CHF94 million ($94.6 million), including a fine of CHF4 million over bribery in Africa. The commodities trader failed to prevent its employees and agents from bribing public officials between 2008 and 2011 in order to gain access to the petroleum markets in the Republic of Congo and Ivory Coast, the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said in a statement on Thursday.

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Spying scandal weighs on Tidjane Thiam’s tenure at Credit Suisse

When Tidjane Thiam arrived at the helm of Credit Suisse in the summer of 2015, he was a hero. Plucked from the same role at UK insurer Prudential, where he had doubled the share price in six years, he had big plans to shrink the Swiss group’s investment bank, slash costs, raise fresh capital and expand in Asia.

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Unions urge probe on asbestos-linked deaths

Labour unions are demanding a probe of companies’ pre-1990 working conditions in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino, in connection with recent asbestos-linked deaths. They are targeting particularly Swiss Federal Railways and the Swiss accident insurance fund SUVA.

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Cashflow crisis looms over UN in Geneva

The United Nations is facing a serious cashflow crisis, as 63 states – including its largest contributor, the United States – have not paid their annual dues. In Geneva, officials at the UN’s European headquarters (UNOG) are considering ways to cut costs, while the host nation looks on anxiously.

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State railway company beset with fresh problems 

All the Swiss Federal Railways’ new Bombardier double-decker trains will have to go in for repairs for certain parts to be replaced, it has emerged. The news of the latest technical problems was broken by Swiss public television SRF, citing internal documents. At present, 12 out of the 59 Bombardier trains are in operation on a line between Chur (in southeastern Switzerland) and Basel in the northwestern part of the country.

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Floating solar panels unveiled in Swiss Alps

A solar panel project which could power over 6,000 households has been launched in a mountain lake in southwestern Switzerland. The Romande Energie company unveiled the first part of its floating solar project in Bourg-Saint-Pierre on Wednesday after six years of exploratory work. The installation consists of 2,240 square metres of solar panels sitting on a 36-part aluminium and polyethylene frame anchored to the bed of the mountain lake.

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EU removes Switzerland from tax haven lists 

Switzerland has acknowledged the fact that European Union will remove the country from its grey list for tax havens following a reform of the corporate tax system. “Switzerland meets and implements international tax standards. The European Union has acknowledged this…” said a statement, released by the State Secretariat for International Finance (SIF), on Thursday.

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Geneva commuters fall out of love with cars

Commuters in the Geneva region are becoming increasingly disillusioned with private cars and are embracing “multimodal” forms of transport, a survey has found. An in-depth survey of commuter behaviour in the Greater Geneva region – covering canton Geneva, the Nyon region in neighbouring canton Vaud, and France – has revealed an increasingly negative attitude towards driving.

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New Swiss 100-franc banknote blocks certain ATMs

The new CHF100 ($100) banknote, which went into circulation last month, has blocked bank ATMs in half a dozen German-speaking Swiss cantons. Bank machines belonging to the PostFinance bank do not seem to like the new blue CHF100 note, which was officially launched on September 12.

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Swiss are skilled but not so dynamic, finds ranking

Switzerland has slipped down a slot in the annual Global Competitiveness Index from the World Economic Forum (WEF). Having come in fourth in 2018, Switzerland now follows Singapore, the United States, Hong Kong and the Netherlands. The index covers 141 countries. The world economy is not ready for a major slowdown, warns WEF.

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Swiss firms give over CHF5 million a year to parties and candidates

Switzerland’s biggest firms – mainly banks, pharmaceutical firms and insurance companies – donate at least CHF5 million ($5 million) a year to political parties and candidates, a survey has revealed. The poll of 140 companies by Swiss public radio RTS, published on Tuesday, found that one in five firms donate regularly to political parties or politicians, to the tune of CHF5 million annually.

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Switzerland’s top UN diplomat in New York

When Antonio Guterres was elected United Nations Secretary General in 2016, some criticized the decision because they thought a woman should finally be at the helm of the international organisation. To his credit, Guterres has filled many of the UN’s top posts with women including Mirjana Spoljaric – Switzerland’s top ranking UN diplomat in New York.

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Switzerland shares details of 3.1 million bank accounts held by foreigners

In its second-ever data sharing exercise as part of a global automatic exchange of information (AEOI) treaty, Switzerland shared financial account information with 63 partner countries. On Monday, the Swiss Federal Tax Authority revealed that it had provided details of around 3.1 million bank accounts held by foreigners to the countries of their origin.

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‘A Swiss should run Credit Suisse’ ex-CS head tells newspaper

In an interview with the newspaper NZZ am Sonntag, former Credit Suisse CEO Oswald Grübel has criticized the large Swiss bank for its handling of the current crisis. By maintaining that CEO Tidjane Thiam was unaware of the spying affair, the bank is harming the Swiss financial sector, Grübel said in an interview published on Sunday.

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Hackers attack Swiss consumer protection agency

Hackers successfully attacked the website of the Swiss Consumer Protection Foundation last month, placing links to fake stores within the agency’s online shopping pages. The hack was detected within two hours and the malicious links were removed, said the foundation, which regularly warns consumers about online fraud.

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EU to remove Switzerland from tax haven lists

European Union finance ministers are set to remove Switzerland and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) from the bloc’s lists of countries deemed to act as tax havens, an EU document said. On October 10 they are expected to remove Switzerland from the grey list that includes countries that have committed to change their tax rules to make them compliant with EU standards.

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Fête des Vignerons seeks millions to fill financial hole

The organisers of the Fête des Vignerons – a traditional winegrowers’ festival in the Swiss lakeside town of Vevey – is scrambling to cover its multi-million-franc deficit for 2019. The local winegrowers’ guild behind the once-in-a-generation private festival, which started in the 17th century, reported a CHF15 million ($14.9 million) loss for the 2019 edition on Tuesday.

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Credit Suisse braced for ‘spygate’ reputational fallout

The usually discrete world of Swiss private banking has been shaken by spying revelations at Credit Suisse, the country’s second largest wealth manager. Chairman Urs Rohner has acknowledged that the sordid affair has damaged the reputation of the bank and the Swiss financial centre.

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Credit Suisse COO resigns over spying scandal

Credit Suisse Group Chief Operating Officer Pierre-Olivier Bouee has resigned following a spying scandal that has rocked Switzerland’s financial circles and which the lender said caused severe reputational damage to the bank. Bouee, a long-time associate of Chief Executive Officer Tidjane Thiam, assumed responsibility for the surveillance of former Credit Suisse executive Iqbal Khan along with the bank’s head of security.

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Swiss accident insurer to cut 170 jobs

Between 2021 and 2027, the Swiss National Accident Insurance Fund (SUVA)external link plans to cut about 20% of its jobs in the claims management department. Currently, that department has more than 800 jobs, including agency clerks, district physicians, insurance physicians at the head office and lawyers for objections and court cases.

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Libra stablecoin project ‘no threat’ to financial system

Facebook’s Libra cryptocurrency poses no threat to central banks or to financial law and order, the head of the Geneva-based Libra Association tells swissinfo.ch. Many regulators, politicians and central banks have reacted with alarm to the proposed new digital payments system.

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Chasing wealth managers is a risky business

Zurich is a sober and orderly city, so a fierce altercation near the Swiss National Bankexternal link between a banker to the world’s billionaires and a private detective who was trailing him is worthy of John Le Carré. It is all the more lurid that Credit Suisse ordered surveillance of Iqbal Khan after he left abruptly for its rival UBS.

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US stamps policy on the Universal Postal Union

I think it’s fair to say many people may not have heard of the Universal Postal Union (UPU). Its unassuming headquarters sits peacefully in a leafy suburb of Bern. It is the only United Nations agency to grace Switzerland’s capital with a presence. In fact, the UPU is older than the UN itself. Founded in 1874, its mandate is to regulate the booming new (in the 19th century) international communication of letters and parcels.

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Media questions EFTA deal timing

“Playing with fire,” is the verdict of the Swiss press, in reaction to the free trade deal largely agreed between EFTA countries – among them Switzerland – and the Mercosur bloc, that includes Brazil. Questions have been raised over the timing of the agreement.

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Swiss post rolls out more secure version of e-voting platform

The publicly-owned company Swiss Post, which had abandoned its electronic voting system in July over security concerns, has developed a new version. “We have already proposed a solution” to cantons, said general manager Roberto Cirillo in an interview published by the La Liberté newspaper on Friday.

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Swiss food-waste pioneer wins CHF200,000 prize

This year’s CHF200,000 ($204,000) J.E. Brandenberger Foundation prize has been awarded to Yvonne Kurzmeyer, founder of the charity organisation Schweizer Tafel. The organisation redistributes over 4,000 tonnes of food a year to underprivileged groups in Switzerland.

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Big firms required to publish gender pay gap in 2021

Large companies in Switzerland will have to analyse wages of men and women starting in 2020 and make the audited results available to staff in 2021. The Federal Council agreed on Wednesday that the equal pay revision to the Gender Equality Act, passed by parliament in December 2018, will come into force on July 1, 2020.

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Nine out of ten Swiss are satisfied with their job

The vast majority of Swiss people enjoy going to work. In a survey by consultants EY, 87% said they were satisfied or very satisfied with their job. Although the figure has barely changed since last year, differences between sectors persist. In the construction industry and in mechanical and systems engineering, for example, satisfaction has increased significantly.

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Swiss groundwater quality threatened by pollution

Pollution from agriculture, former industrial sites and landfills is threatening Switzerland’s groundwater reserves, according to a detailed study of water quality. The water quality study from the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN), released on Thursday, said groundwater faces the greatest pressures in areas of high farming activity.

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Swiss pharma executive gets US sanction for insider trading  

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has fined Lorenz Erne, a former senior executive at Swiss pharmaceutical firm Roche, for insider trading and ordered him to pay back the ill-gotten profits. Erne accepted the accusations and agreed to the terms of a settlement with the SEC, according to an SEC document published on Thursday. He has to pay back $159,228 (CHF156,000) plus a fine of $79,614 within 14 days to the SEC “for transfer to the general fund of the United States Treasury”.

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Swiss financial sector shines in international survey 

Switzerland’s financial centre has a positive reputation abroad, despite a string of scandals in 2018, according to a 19-nation survey conducted by Presence Suisse. The reputation and quality of Swiss banks were rated as “good” to “very good” by most respondents in the international poll of 12,767 people. The ethics and responsibility of the Swiss banking sector are also well regarded.

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Survey shows growing political acceptance for a fuel tax

Analysis of survey questions filled out by Swiss politicians in 2015 and 2019 shows a marked turnaround in attitudes towards the introduction of a carbon tax on fuel. The Smartvote online platform asks politicians various attitudinal questions in an effort to help voters make up their minds in the lead up to national elections.

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Novartis rejects suspected data manipulation in US

Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis has dismissed criticism that it allegedly withheld information about animal testing data inaccuracies to United States authorities for a human gene therapy. Novartis said its subsidiary in California began investigating the alleged data manipulation for its gene therapy Zolgensma as soon as it learned about it.

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Chinese-owned Swissmetal sold to Swiss investors

The cash-strapped Baoshida Swissmetal company has been taken over by a group of Swiss investors six years after it was sold to a Chinese group. The newly-founded Swissmetal Industries, backed by two private investors, said it had acquired the firm, which employs about 160 people at two factories in the small towns of Dornach and Reconvilier.

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Pressure returns on Swiss franc amid global uncertainty

One knock-on effect of the escalating trade war between the United States and China is that the Swiss franc is becoming more attractive for investors – putting pressure on the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to come to the defence of the safe haven currency. For much of July a euro bought at least CHF1.10.

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US tourists flocking to Switzerland amid economic boom  

American visitors to Switzerland have increased by over 40% in five years and represent a major growth motor for the tourism industry, annual statistics show. Chinese and Indian tourists are often seen as the future of Swiss tourism, the SonntagsZeitung and Le Matin Dimanche newspapers reported at the weekend. However, they say, “North America is the real growth engine when it comes to overseas visitors”.

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Glencore suffers $350m hit as cobalt prices decline

Glencore has taken a $350 million hit because of falling cobalt prices as the problems facing its African copper business continue to pile up. The Switzerland-based miner and commodity trader has been grappling with a string of issues in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where it operates two copper mines, and in Zambia, where it owns another asset.

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Switzerland’s first integrated crypto asset exchange launched

Smart Valor, the country’s first integrated cryptocurrency exchange offering custody, trading and brokerage, has gone live with nine crypto-fiat trading pairs. The assets on Zug-based platform, that was launched in 2017 as part of the Thomson Reuters Incubator, includes crypto currencies and security tokens.

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Switzerland assists Japanese probe into Carlos Ghosn 

Canton Zurich’s public prosecutor is assisting the Japanese authorities in an inquiry related to bank accounts associated with Carlos Ghosn, the former leading auto executive. Tokyo prosecutors sent a request for legal assistance to Switzerland in January, a spokesperson for the country’s Federal Office of Justice (FOJ) told swissinfo.ch.

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Expat Swiss Celebrated at Historic Winegrower’s Festival

Colours of the Swiss flag

The expatriate Swiss community has been attending the once-in-a-lifetime Fête des Vignerons, currently taking place on the shores of Lake Geneva. A delegation of Swiss citizens living across the world, including leading members of the Organisation of the Swiss Abroadexternal link (OSA), gathered in Vevey to participate in the event on Thursday.

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Swiss Railway Tracks Buckle under the Heat

The hottest day of the year in Switzerland caused a headache for the Swiss Federal Railways. Track damage occurred on Wednesday in the Zurich Oberland, canton Aargau near Brugg and in the Geneva area. Railways spokesman Raffael Hirt confirmed that lines had been interrupted in Zurich between Pfäffikon and Wetzikon and in Aargau between Wildegg and Brugg.

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Switzerland has the Highest Underemployment Rate in Europe

Swiss Women Work Time

2018, 7% of Switzerland’s workforce claimed they would like to work more. Women are the most affected. According to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) figures publsihed on Tuesday, Switzerland’s labour pool has 830,000 people. This includes 356,000 underemployed individuals, 231,000 unemployed and 243,000 people who are looking for work but not available to start immediately.

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Swiss tourist chief warns against Europe-only strategy

The director of Switzerland’s tourism marketing company has dismissed criticism that the country is overrun by Asian tourists. Martin Nydegger said concerns by the local population about too many tourists should be taken seriously. But the perception of overtourism was mistaken and potentially damaging.

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Switzerland could lose billions in global corporate tax reform push

Switzerland stands to lose up to CHF10 billion ($10.2 billion) as a consequence of attempts by other countries to change how multinationals are taxed. Countries belonging to the G20 and OECD are pushing for changes in corporate taxation rules to capture a larger share of taxes of multinationals based in tax-friendly destinations like Switzerland.

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US ratifies double-taxation deal with Switzerland

The United States Senate on Wednesday ratified a double-taxation agreement (DTA) with Switzerland, ending years of stalemate. The agreement, which required two-thirds of votes, was accepted by a large majority, according to the US Senate website.

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Survey: one in ten Swiss jobs is ‘low paid’

Around 320,000 jobs in Switzerland are considered low paid, earning a gross monthly salary of under CHF4,335 ($4,400), according to the most recent nationwide statistics. In 2016, 12% of Swiss workers earned such a low monthly salary, the Federal Statistical Office (OFS) reported on Monday.

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Swiss fuel-related CO2 emissions remained stable in 2019

Despite an increase in the use of biofuels and electric vehicles, fuel-related carbon dioxide emissions remained unchanged in 2018 in the country. The stagnation was due to the increase in road traffic. Owing to a rise in the average number of kilometres Swiss residents travelled last year, as well as growth in higher-emissions passenger vehicles – mainly four-wheel drives – fuel-related CO2 emissions in 2017 were still 3.3% above their 1990 level, the Federal Office for the Environment (FOEN) reported on Tuesday.

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Old Swiss trains get chance at new life online

The Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) is selling its old locomotives on the Internet. Control cars, rails, switches and a firefighting train with a CHF1 million ($1 million) price tag are among the vintage vehicles on sale. You will be hard pressed to find anything for less than CHF25,000 on SBBresale.ch, according to the Sunday editions of the German-language Blick newspaper and French-language Le Matin.

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Competition watchdog fines car leasing companies for collusion

The Swiss competition commission (COMCO) has fined eight car leasing firms a total of CHF30 million ($30.4 million) for having swapped information on rates. The fines were announced on Thursday and come after some years of regular and systematic information exchanges between the companies on interest rates, COMCO announced.

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Half a million Swiss jobs vacancies predicted in 10 years

Retiring baby-boomers and a shifting job market could mean a shortfall of up to 500,000 workers in Switzerland over the next decade, UBS forecasts. The bank proposes plugging the hole not only by immigration, but also by boosting more old and female workers. Basing its projections on long-term employment statistics, the bank says that the number of jobs to be filled could be anywhere between 300,000 and 500,000 over the next decade.

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Some 60 percent of all Swiss banknotes are hoarded, study finds

The amount of Swiss CHF1,000 notes that are hoarded rather than being used in the economy for payments could be as high as 87%, a study by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) has shown. The report, “Demand for Swiss banknotes: some new evidence”, estimates the volume of Swiss banknotes being stashed – rather than spent or invested – over the period 1950-2017.

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The rich get poorer for the first time since 2011

After seven years of growth, both the number of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) around the world and their total wealth declined in 2018, according to the latest World Wealth Report by consultants Capgemini. This trend was also seen in Switzerland.

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TGV trains run again between Geneva and France

The international TGV rail link between Geneva and France, which had been affected by the hot weather, has been repaired. Trains have been running since 5am on Sunday. Hot weather had buckled the tracks at La Plaine in canton Geneva, requiring repair work on Saturday, the Swiss Federal Railways said on Sunday.

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Planned pension reform sees women working a year longer

The Swiss government plans to incrementally increase the retirement age of women to 65 while offering incentives for all people to work longer. The CHF2.8 billion ($2.84 billion) savings measures would be accompanied by a sales tax hike and extra pension payments for hardship cases.

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Vitol overtakes Glencore as biggest company in Switzerland

Commodity trader Vitol has taken the top spot in the ranking of the largest companies in Switzerland by total turnover, relegating Zug-based Glencore to second place. According to the rankingexternal link published in the Handelszeitung on Thursday, in 2018 Vitol boasted growth of 26.8% for a total turnover of CHF226 billion ($231 billion) compared to Glencore’s CHF215 billion.

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Swiss government proposes overhaul of money-laundering laws 

The Swiss government wants to revamp the laws against money laundering so that lawyers, notaries and other advisors are required to comply with due diligence obligations.  The Federal Council (executive body) proposed on Wednesday a set of legal amendments to meet international standards in the fight against money laundering and terrorism financing. 

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Big pay gaps remain in Switzerland

Large wage gaps continue by gender and within Switzerland’s largest 26 firms, according to two new surveys. According to the Federal Office for Statistics, the median gross salary of male full-time employees in Switzerland stood at CHF85,200 ($87,276) last year, while for full-time female employees it was CHF71,500 – a 19% pay gap.

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Swiss pensioners most likely age group to be overweight

Swiss seniors are much more likely to be overweight that other age categories, new statistics from the Federal Office for Public Health (FOPH) show. Some 53% of over-65-year-olds have a body mass index judged to be too high (over 25 on the BMI scale), according to the statistics released on Tuesday by the FOPH.

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Federal fat cats see bonuses fall  

The salaries of top managers at Swiss government-affiliated companies shrank last year due to smaller bonuses, according to a federal report published on Friday. Top state earner, Andreas Meyer, head of Swiss Federal Railways, saw his earnings fall below CHF1 million for the first time: down to CHF987,442 ($1 million) from CHF1,007,000 in 2017, the report found.

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Swiss poised to retaliate against EU stock market access

The Swiss finance ministry has reaffirmed that it is ready to ban stock exchanges in the European Union from trading Swiss shares – in a worsening row with Brussels over the future of bilateral relations. “In the event of stock market equivalence not being extended, the finance ministry will activate this protective measure. [….] Consequently, trading venues in the EU would lose recognition,” the ministry said on Monday.

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Smartphone shopping boosts online trade

Online shopping accounts for an ever bigger slice of the Swiss retail market as shopping via smartphone also becomes more popular with consumers, says a new report. Last year, Swiss consumers placed online orders worth a total of almost CHF 10 billion ($10 billion), according to the “E-Commerce Report 2019” published on Thursday. This represents an increase of 10 percent compared with the previous year.

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Millionaires in Switzerland still on the rise

Switzerland is home to the fourth-largest number of dollar millionaire households, according to a report by the Boston Consultancy Group (BCG). Worldwide, the number of such millionaires continues to rise. There are now some 500,000 millionaire households in Switzerland, BCG said, putting the Swiss in fourth place behind the US (around 15 million), China (1.3 million), and Japan (1.1 million).

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A third of young Swiss experience financial hardship

Around 30% of young adults in Switzerland have faced financial difficulties, according to data from the Young Adult Survey Switzerland (YASS). The survey, which questions some 70,000 19-year-olds around the country every four years, aims to gain an “empiric and interdisciplinary insight” into the “educational biographies, living conditions and social and political orientations” of young Swiss adults.

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