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

Swiss public transport given good cost-effectiveness marks

Using public transport infrequently in Switzerland is expensive, but thanks to new special offers such as “early bird” rates Switzerland does well when it comes to value for money, according to an international study. “Travelling by train, bus or boat is expensive in Switzerland,” is a common refrain among Swiss people – and especially tourists.

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Traffic jams cost Swiss more than just time

Various costs related to traffic jams totalled CHF1.9 billion ($1.9 billion) in 2015, up 7% from 2010, according to the Swiss Office for Spatial Development. In a statement released on Wednesday (link in French, German and Italian), the office said that costs stemming from wasted time accounted for 70% of the losses, having increased by 14% since 2010. However, other costs related to the climate (+12%) and the environment (+3%) also increased between 2010 and 2015.

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CEO of Baselworld steps down

The head of the world’s largest watch and jewellery trade show, the Swiss-based Baselworld, has handed in his resignation amid a row over the departure of several exhibitors. The MCH Group announced that CEO Peter Kamm would resign from his position “in view of the fundamental transformation phase in business operations”.

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Swiss court blocks French request for UBS banking data

Switzerland’s Federal Administrative Court has ordered the Federal Tax Administration (FTA) not to provide France with details about 40,000 UBS bank clients with French addresses. In May 2016, the French tax authorities requested administrative assistance from the FTA. They wanted details about UBS clients who lived or had lived in France.

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UBS Boss Bemoans Geopolitical Jitters

UBS may have seen quarterly profits rise year-on-year, but chief executive Sergio Ermotti says the threat of trade wars and political unrest has dampened investor enthusiasm and continues to hold back financial markets.

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Zurich Airport to Limit Night-Time Flight Traffic

Federal aviation authorities have decided to limit the number of time slots for planes at Switzerland’s main airport in Zurich. The Federal Office of Civil Aviationexternal link said it has ordered a freeze on landings after 9pm and for take-offs after 10:20pm to reduce the noise for residents living near the airport.

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Swiss slap nearly 20,000 fines over labour violations

Swiss authorities sanction on average ten companies per day for violating wage protection rules, according to official figures. That corresponds to 19,200 fines in the span of five years. NZZ am Sonntag published these figures on Sunday on the basis of a list compiled by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

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Rothschild bank sanctioned for role in 1MDB scandal

The Swiss financial regulator has concluded its investigations into the Malaysian 1MDB scandal by finding Rothschild Bank AG and one of its subsidiaries in serious breach of anti-money laundering regulations. The Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) said on Friday that it has appointed an auditor to make sure the bank and its Rothschild Trust vehicle properly implement an internal overhaul of its practices.

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Swiss bank settles US tax evasion probe

The Zurich-based Neue Privat Bank (NPB) has paid $5 million (CHF5 million) fine to settle a criminal tax evasion investigation in the United States. NPB is one of a handful of so-called ‘category 1’ Swiss or Swiss-based bank branches that were still facing sanctions at the start of this year.

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Swiss claim success in international cybercrime case

Two people suspected of illegally obtaining and using the e-banking data of Swiss bank customers have been arrested in the Netherlands. The Swiss Office of the Attorney General says the suspects were arrested near the city of Rotterdam and premises were searched in the coordinated operation between Dutch and Swiss police and justice authorities.

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Uber plans softer Swiss expansion drive

The ride sharing service Uber plans to expand further in Switzerland, but not as aggressively as in the past, Swiss head Steve Salom says in a newspaper interview. Uber is present in Zurich, Basel, Geneva and Lausanne with 300,000 regular customers and some 2,600 drivers in Switzerland, Salom told SonntagsBlick.

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Switzerland files WTO complaint over American steel tariffs

The Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has initiated a dispute settlement procedure with the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against US steel and aluminium import tariffs. In a statement published on Tuesday, SECO announced that a complaint to this effect had been filed with the WTO because Switzerland was one of the countries affected by the additional import tariffs on certain steel and aluminium products into the US.

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Germany alleged to have spied on Swiss firms in Austria

A dozen branches of Swiss firms in Austria were targeted by German spies between 1999 and 2006, according to the SonntagsBlick newspaper which has seen documents belonging to Germany’s federal intelligence service BND. Part of the data was allegedly handed to the United States. The Sunday newspaper said the Swiss firms targeted by German spies in Austria included the pharmaceutical company Sandoz, which belongs to the Novartis Group, the logistics firm Panalpina, and the Zug firm Bossard, which specializes in producing screws, nuts and bolts.

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‘Hidden’ transport costs on the rise

Traffic Jam in Geneva

A government study has found that the so-called ‘external costs’ of various modes of transport collectively increased by almost CHF1 billion during the period 2010-2015. For walkers and cyclists, however, benefits outweigh the costs.

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Thousands of Swiss firms are unregistered

Unlike this company

About 13,000 companies are not listed in the commercial register – a serious problem, notes the Swiss Federal Audit Office. Increased cooperation with the tax authorities could be a solution. On Wednesday the office published an evaluation of how Switzerland has been combating corruption over the past decade – since it’s been following a recommendation of the Council of Europe Group of States against Corruption (GRECO).

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Swiss intercity trains in for a makeover

The Swiss Federal Railways is revamping its intercity IC2000 fleet at a cost of approximately CHF300 million ($302 million). The first completely renovated trains will be put back into operation in early 2019. The 341 wagons should be fit for another 20 years on the rails after their makeover.

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Swiss public broadcaster to phase out 250 jobs

The Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), swissinfo’s parent company, announced on Thursday a series of belt-tightening measures, including the elimination of 250 full-time positions over the next four years. The SBC is initiating a four-year savings and redeployment programme aimed at saving CHF100 million ($100 million), which will be re-invested across its various business and language units.

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Swiss banking sector continues to shrink but survivors profitable

Switzerland lost a total of nine banks in 2017 bringing the total to 253. Around 20 years ago the country boasted more than 400 banks. According to the annual “Banks in Switzerland” report released by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) on Thursday, only one foreign bank opened a Swiss branch last year. The number of people working for banks also declined. Staff numbers in Switzerland fell by 7.7% to 93,554 full-time equivalents (FTEs).

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Swiss banks urged to step up fight against financial crime

Swiss financial institutions and public authorities must do more to prevent organised crime and money laundering within the financial system, a study by the consulting firm KPMG published on Tuesday has found. The authors of the study called “Clarity on Crime in Financial Services” highlighted several challenges and problems which must be addressed if banks want to successfully prevent and identify criminal financial activities in future.

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Strikes mooted over construction retirement age

Unions on Friday threatened warning strikes for the building sector this autumn if the current retirement age of 60 for construction workers is dropped. At a press conference on Friday, Switzerland’s biggest trade union Unia, and the union Syna called for early retirement, as well as more worker protection and less temporary work on sites.

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Executives still paid exorbitant salaries at big Swiss firms

The gap between the top-paid and least-paid employees of the 39 largest companies in Switzerland remains high, despite a 2013 vote against excessive executive pay. According to Switzerland’s largest trade union, Unia, in 2017 the average ratio between top and bottom in these companies was 1:143.

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Swiss health costs set to exceed CHF10,000 per person

The average Swiss will for the first time spend more than CHF10,000 ($10,159) on health care in 2018 and 2019, according to an economic research institute and think tank. KOF, part of the federal technology institute ETH Zurich, says this is down to the growing economy: the more people earn, the more they spend on their health. It also bases its calculations on the growing proportion of old people in the Swiss population.

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Swiss jobless rate drops to 2.4 percent

The unemployment rate in Switzerland has reached a new nadir – just 2.4%, according to latest official statistics. The number of jobseekers is the lowest since the financial crisis. The statistics, published by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) on Thursday, show that the numbers of unemployed turning up at job centres fell by 9% last month, bringing the overall unemployment rate down from 2.7% to 2.4%.

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Parliament snubs Swiss expat calls for better banking ties

The Swiss Abroad community has suffered a new setback in its efforts to receive improved access to banking services in Switzerland. The House of Representatives on Tuesday threw out a call on the government to ease the financial woes of expatriates by publishing relevant information on the websites of the foreign ministry and Switzerland’s diplomatic representations abroad for the Swiss overseas communities.

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PostFinance Еxpected to Axe 500 Jobs

Post Finance external link, one of Switzerland’s leading financial institutions, expects to cut up to 500 full-time jobs by the end of 2020. The banking division of the Post Office has launched multiple measures to counter the erosion of profit margins and the resulting decline in revenues.

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Slowdown in Middle Eastern tourists to Switzerland

After almost tripling in the last decade, the number of tourists to Switzerland from the Middle East is slowing down, with the slowdown expected to be particularly marked this summer. The growth rate of tourists from the Gulf will be zero this summer, according to forecasts by Oxford Economics and the Swiss tourist board.

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Over 1,000 jobs threatened by OVS liquidation

The Sempione Retail company, owner of the OVS fashion stores in Switzerland, has begun bankruptcy proceedings. Some 140 outlets will close their doors, with 1,150 workers affected. The Italian clothes brand announced in a statement on Wednesday evening that it had reached a financial dead-end.

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Swiss Bank to Drop Iranian Business

A Swiss lender is suspending new transactions with Iran following US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the nuclear deal with Tehran. Banque de Commerce et de Placements (BCP)external link announced on Tuesday that it was wrapping up its activity in Iran in response to the US pulling out of the Iranian nuclear accord earlier this month.

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Nestlé to cut up to 500 jobs in Switzerland

Swiss food giant Nestlé plans to cut as many as 500 computer-service jobs in Switzerland as part of a restructuring plan to increase profitability, the company announced on Tuesday. Nestlé will be outsourcing the IT jobs to Spain, according to a press releaseexternal link published on the company’s website.

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Crowdfunding Platforms Boom in Switzerland

Swiss crowdfunding platforms dealt with CHF375 million ($377 million) in 2017, almost three times as much as the previous year. Some 160,000 people supported a crowdfunding project. Over the past eight years, more than half a billion francs have been collected via the “swarm-based form of financing”, said the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts on Monday.

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Switzerland Remains in Top Five for Competitiveness Despite Fall

Switzerland has dropped from second to fifth place in an annual ranking of the world’s most competitive economies, whilst the United States have moved up three places to the top. Switzerland’s fall is due mainly to “a slowdown in exports, job growth and international investment”, says the Lausanne-based IMD business schoolexternal link, which compiles the 63-country ranking.

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Swiss pharma suspected of delaying generic competition

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) published Thursday a list of pharmaceutical companies that include Basel-based Novartis and Roche, all of which are suspected of hindering the development of generic versions of their own medicines. Over 150 complaints were filed.

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Alpine tunnel closure causes major holiday traffic disruption

Traffic queues of up to 28 kilometres were reported at the northern entrance to the Gotthard tunnel on Saturday, owing to a long weekend and the closure of another major Alpine road tunnel because of a fire. The San Bernadino tunnel in southeast Switzerland was closed on Friday afternoon after a German tourist bus caught fire in the tunnel, leaving two people with minor injuries. It is expected to remain closed over the Pentecost weekend, since the tunnel needs to cool down and be checked for any infrastructure damage.

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Rapid escalation in Swiss fines for freight trucks

An increasing number of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) are being pulled over for motoring offences at border crossings. Customs officials have reported 83% more violations in the last eight years, rising from 17,997 on 2010 to 32,967 last year. A further 24,464 fines and cautions were issued against HGVs according to the SonntagsZeitung newspaper.

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Government defends Swiss Post-Amazon deal

The government has defended the deal struck that will see Swiss Post delivering packages for retail giant Amazon. There is no question of preferential treatment, it said. The response by the government came in response to a parliamentary question raised by politician Olivier Feller (Liberal-Radical), querying the deal that will see Swiss Post delivering Amazon packages within a time frame of 24 hours.

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Swiss median monthly wage exceeds CHF6,500 ($6,506)

A government survey analysing wage structures in the Alpine nation found that the median salary for a full-time job in 2016 was CHF6,502 ($6,509) for the entire Swiss economy. The bottom 10% of Swiss earners had a salary of less than CHF4,313 ($4,317), while the best paid 10% earned more than CHF11,406 ($11,418) a month.

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Swiss share tax data with 41 nations

For the first time, Switzerland’s Federal Tax Administration (FTA) has sent details on advance tax rulings to its partners in the spontaneous exchange of information deal. The FTA announced on Tuesdayexternal link that it had transmitted a first batch of 82 reports to a total of 41 states, including Britain, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia. Some reports were exchanged with several partner countries.

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Swiss unemployment lower than it’s been in years

The Swiss unemployment rate was 2.7% in April – a level last seen in July 2012. Last month, 119,781 people were registered as without work in Switzerland – 10,632 fewer than the previous month. This brought the overall unemployment rate down from 2.9% in March to 2.7% in April, reported the State Secretariat for Economic Affairsexternal link on Tuesday.

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Swiss economics minister upbeat about Mercosur free trade deal

Switzerland is close to concluding a free trade agreement with the four Mercosur countries – Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and Paraguay – within the framework of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann told reporters in Bern following his South America visit. Schneider-Ammann has just returned from a seven-day visit to the four South American countries, accompanied by 50-strong delegation of Swiss business leaders and politicians, aimed at convincing both sides of the benefits of a common trade agreement.

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Switzerland remains top international wealth management hub

Switzerland remains the world’s largest wealth management centre for international assets, but the air is getting thinner at the top and other financial hubs are gaining ground, according to a global report. A total of $1.84 trillion (CHF1.85 billion) of international assets were managed in Switzerland at the end of 2017, says the latest Deloitte Wealth Management Centre Rankingexternal link, published on Friday. This is around 7% less than in 2010.

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International trade unionists stage Glencore demo

On Wednesday, some 40 trade union members from as far as Australia and Africa protested the Swiss-based commodities giant’s treatment of workers. The demonstration took place on the occasion of Glencore’s annual general assembly in Zug, and included protestors from Colombia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Canada, Australia, as well as other countries, according to a statementexternal link (in French) by Swiss trade union Unia.

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Nestlé and Starbucks agree million-dollar tie-up

The Swiss food giant Nestlé is set to pay Starbucks $7.1 billion (CHF7.1 billion) to market the American firm’s products outside Starbucks’ coffee shops. Under the alliance deal, announced on Monday, Starbucks and Nestlé have agreed to work together on marketing strategies and innovation.

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Thousands of Swiss take to streets to mark May Day

Workers and activists have been celebrating May Day in Switzerland with rallies in numerous cities urging their government to address employment issues, such as equal pay. Around 50 rallies and events are planned across Switzerland. On Tuesday morning, 13,000 took part in a demonstration in Zurich city centre. Other major rallies were held in Basel in the morning, and in Bern and Geneva in the afternoon.

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Demand for organic food grows strongly in Switzerland

One in ten fresh food items sold in Switzerland last year was organic, according to the Federal Office for Agriculture. The market share of organic products rose from 4.6% in 2007 to 9% in 2017, while the share of fresh organic food sold in Switzerland rose from just under 6% to 11.5% over the same period, the agriculture office reported on Tuesday.

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Unions seek to blacklist Swiss firms that underpay women

The workers’ union umbrella group Travail Suisse is calling for the introduction of a blacklist to shame Swiss companies that fail to pay women and men equally. This is one of 28 recommendations which feature in a position paper published by Travail Suisse external linkon Monday, on the eve of International Workers’ Day.

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French strike limits rail links with Switzerland

Rail services between Switzerland and France are limited on Saturday, owing to a strike by French workers against railway reforms. Most high-speed train (TGV) services have been cancelled, with the exception of six return journeys between Paris and Zurich (2), Paris and Geneva (2) and Paris and Lausanne. A similar service is planned for Sunday.

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One in four Swiss tenants wants to move, but can’t

More than a quarter of tenants in Switzerland are unhappy with their accommodation, but are unable to move – especially for financial reasons. A survey published by online price comparison portal comparis.chexternal link on Thursday has found that 26% of Swiss tenants consider their housing situation to be unsatisfactory. Of the 4,000 tenants surveyed, 67% said that they could not afford to move to a better place.

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Swiss travel and watch firms named best places to work

Swiss International Air Lines has been ranked as the most attractive employer in a survey on the 150 largest companies in Switzerland. Zurich Airport came in second, followed by watchmaker Patek Philippe. The survey, published by Dutch recruitment agency Randstadexternal link on Thursday, asked 4,800 people aged 18-65 where they would like to work.

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Swiss authorities allowed isopropanol exports to Syria

Switzerland authorised the export to Syria of five metric tons of the chemical isopropanol in 2014, which can be used to make sarin gas, Swiss public television, RTS, reports. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) announced in May 2014 that Syria had destroyed its stock of 120 metric tons of isopropanol.

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Swiss finance minister sees ‘clearly improved’ ties with US

Relations between Switzerland and the United States have improved under the Trump administration, Finance Minister Ueli Maurer told Swiss public radio, SRF, on Saturday. Maurer is heading a Swiss delegationexternal link, together with Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann and Thomas Jordan, Chairman of the Swiss National Bank, which is attending the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group spring meetingsexternal link in Washington from April 20-22.

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Weakening franc approaches symbolic mark

As the Swiss franc weakens towards the threshold CHF1.20 exchange rate, the likelihood remains slim that Switzerland’s central bank will alter monetary policy any time soon. On Thursday morning a euro cost CHF1.198 francs. In February, the price of a single euro fell to under CHF1.150. The greater the number of francs needed to buy another currency signals a weaker franc, and vice versa if the exchange rate declines.

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Sika stand-off with family heirs continues unabated

During another stormy annual general meeting, the majority stakeholders of Swiss chemical manufacturer Sika were once again controversially denied the chance to vote in a new chairman who would support their plans to sell the company to a French rival. At Tuesday’s AGM, the family heirs of Sika’s founder faced a familiar pattern of having their votes restricted when it came to electing board members.

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Geneva hotels are the most expensive in Europe

Staying in a hotel in Geneva costs more than anywhere else in Europe, according to an international survey. The €242.90 (CHF288 or $300) average charge per night puts Geneva ahead of Paris (€232.30), while Zurich is listed as the third most expensive destination at €203.90. The Hotel President Wilson in Geneva reportedly boasts the most expensive overnight tariff in the world, charging around CHF80,000 ($83,300) to stay in its royal penthouse suite.

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SR Technics to cut jobs at Zurich airport

Aviation support company SR Technics has announced plans to cut a net 200 jobs at Switzerland’s main airport as part of a business review. The company, which is part of China’s HNA group, announced that it could reduce its workforce in aircraft services by as many as 300 positions while adding more than 100 jobs in engine services.

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Nine out of ten Swiss want to buy less, survey finds

A World Wildlife Fund (WWF) survey published on Monday has found that the majority of people in Switzerland are considering shopping less, and young people are particularly likely to take a critical look at their buying behaviour. The Swiss consume “as if there is no tomorrow”: they fly twice as frequently as their neighbours, buy the heaviest cars in Europe, and produce more waste per capita than in any other nation on earth, the WWF said in a statementexternal link on Monday.

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French strike affects Swiss rail connections

Nationwide strikes in France against railway reforms have resulted in all rail connections to Switzerland being cancelled on Tuesday. The so-called Black Tuesday marked the first day of a series of strikes expected to last until the end of June. Rail employees have been called upon to stop work on two out of five days every week until June 30.

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EasyJet foresees Swiss market growth

In an interview given to the SonntagsZeitung on Sunday, EasyJet CEO Johan Lundgren described the company’s strategy for increasing its already-growing share of passengers in the Swiss market. Lundgren told the German-language paper than in recent years, the low-cost British airline has counted about one million additional passengers in the Swiss market annually, and anticipates continued growth thanks to a combination of targeted advertising and larger planes.

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Bankrupt Petroplus climate payments ‘non-refundable’

Climate fund payments made to now-bankrupt Swiss oil refiner Petroplus cannot be reclaimed by creditors as they constituted a business arrangement that brought benefits to contributors as opposed to a gift. This ruling from Zurich’s highest court has stopped a CH15 million ($16 million) claim in its tracks, barring an appeal to the federal courts.

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Credit Suisse boss earned less last year

Credit Suisse Chief Executive Tidjane Thiam earned slightly less in 2017 during his third year on the job, the bank said on Friday. The news comes at a time of scrutiny over executive pay and bonuses. Thiam earned CHF9.7 million ($10.26 million) last year, a 5.3% drop on 2016, Switzerland’s second-biggest bank said.

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Swiss electricity getting cleaner, says energy report

The electricity consumed in Switzerland is ever greener, according to government statistics: some 62% comes from renewable sources, while nuclear has fallen to 17%. The figures (in French/German)external link were released on Monday by the Federal Office of Energy, which gathers each year the sources used by electricity providers in Switzerland. The latest report refers to 2016.

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Imports curdle mood of Swiss cheese producers

Switzerland may be living up to its cliché as a cheese loving nation, but a growing appetite for foreign brands has alarmed local farmers. On average the Swiss consumed 21 kilograms of cheese per person last year, compared to 18 kilograms across Europe, according to figures published by the Swiss Farmers’ Associationexternal link on Wednesday.

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Swiss authorities say Uber drivers should be treated as ‘employees’

For the first time, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has clearly indicated that Uber taxi drivers should be classed as employees rather than self-employed. In an internal statement seen by the 10vor10 programme on Swiss public television, SECO gave the legal opinion that according to the conditions that bind drivers to Uber, they should be regarded as employees rather than independent contractors.

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Freight losses fail to dampen state railway profits

The Swiss Federal Railway’s net profit increased by CHF18 million ($19 million) to CHF399 million ($418 million) last year despite posting a loss in its troubled freight division. The company confirmed a previous decision to cut 800 freight jobs but plans to reduce certain prices for its increasing number of customers, it announced in its annual report on Tuesday.

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Salt set to enter the landline telecoms market

Mobile telephone operator Salt has announced that it will begin offering landline services in Switzerland, in a move set to intensify competition amongst current providers. Salt, which is already an established player in the mobile market, announced on Tuesdayexternal link that it would be proposing “a complete range of telecommunication services in Switzerland, including a ‘triple play’ offer based on high-speed broadband technology”.

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US trade disputes indirectly threaten Swiss economy

Ongoing global trade disputes involving the United States are casting a potential shadow over Swiss economic growth, along with other international events, such as the Italian elections and Brexit. However, the Swiss economy is forecast to expand 2.4% this year and 2% in 2019.

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Swiss central bank records huge profits after franc slide

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) was less active on the foreign exchange markets last year, acquiring CHF48.2 billion ($50.8 billion) in foreign currency to weaken the franc. On Thursday, the central bank nonetheless confirmed massive profits on currency holdings in 2017. In 2017, the SNB purchased CHF48.2 billion in foreign currency to stop the Swiss franc appreciating – down from CHF67.1 billion in 2016.

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Rolex ‘most reputable global brand’ for third straight year

Swiss watch brand Rolex has topped a ranking of the world’s most reputable brands for a third year in a row. Rolex beat Danish toy firm Lego for the top spot, while Swiss food manufacturer Nestlé jumped 21 places to rank 33rd. The Reputation Institute compiled the list in its annual Global RepTrack 100external link, after asking more than 230,000 people in 15 countries to rank some of the world’s biggest companies based on criteria such as ethical standards, transparency and product value.

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New CHF200 banknote to be introduced in August

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has announced that the latest addition to the new banknote series – the CHF200 note ($209) – will go into circulation on August 22. The brown note’s key motif will be physical matter. It will “showcase Switzerland’s scientific expertise”, the SNB said a press release on Monday.

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SWISS boss says that Geneva airport routes are not guaranteed

The CEO of Swiss International Air Lines has said that it is not impossible that the carrier’s Geneva operations be taken over by Eurowings, Lufthansa’s low-cost arm, in 2019. In an interview published in the Agefi newspaper on Monday, Thomas Klühr said he remained “confident” that such a scenario would not come about, but that it depended on the Swiss airline making a profit on its Geneva operations through the course of 2018.

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Zurich is the world’s second most expensive city

Only Singapore is more expensive than Zurich, finds an economic survey that compared the prices of more than 150 grocery items in 133 cities around the world. In fact Zurich tied with Paris for second place, followed by Hong Kong, Oslo, and Geneva – which tied with Seoul for sixth place.

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SWISS reports record profits for 2017

Swiss International Air Lines saw an increase in profitability of almost one-third in 2017, the company has reported. The performance is largely due to more efficient and capacious planes. While total income increased by a more modest 3.2% to CHF4.95 billion ($5.24 billion), pre-tax profits jumped by 31% to CHF561 million.

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Call for pensions paid abroad to be taxed at source

A proposal to tax at source the old-age pensions of Swiss retirees living abroad has been made in parliament. The aim is to prevent differential treatment of pensioners based on where they live. On Wednesday, Christian Democrat senator Peter Hegglin tabled an interpellationexternal link in parliament to address unequal treatment between pensioners who reside in Switzerland those who opt to spend their twilight years abroad.

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Raiffeisen chair resigns over scandal-tainted former CEO

Johannes Rüegg-Stürm, the chairman of the board of directors of Switzerland’s third-largest bank has resigned from his position with immediate effect. The bank hopes turn a new page following the arrest and criminal proceedings against former CEO Pierin Vincenz. A statementexternal link released by the bank on Thursday, said the move was intended to “preserve the long-term credibility of the bank”.

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Drive for women in top jobs suffers setback

The percentage of women in top executive positions dropped slightly in Switzerland last year, a report has found. The annual survey by the Schilling human resource consultancyexternal link shows a 1% drop to 7% in 2017 compared with the previous year. In 2016, the share of women in company executive positions had risen by 2%, raising hopes of a strong increase over the years to come.

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Meat sales drop in Switzerland

Less meat was sold in Switzerland in 2017 than the previous year, although the average Swiss still consumed a good 26 kilograms of meat over the year. Sales of domestic and imported meat fell by 0.7% to 221,468 tonnes, the Federal Office for Agricultureexternal link reported. Turnover also dropped by 0.7% to CHF4.64 billion ($4.95 billion).

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UBS chief’s pay rises to over CHF14 million

The chief executive of Switzerland’s largest bank UBS received CHF14.2 million ($14.92 million) in compensation for 2017, up from CHF13.7 million in 2016, UBS said on Friday. The announcement comes at a time when executive pay and bonuses are under increased scrutiny in Switzerland.

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Government proposes new pension reform guidelines

The Swiss government on Friday fixed the outlines of a new state pension reform plan, including raising VAT to fund it, and raising the retirement age for women from 64 to 65. The proposed reform is to be financed by an increase in VAT of up to 1.7%. Home Affairs Minister Alain Berset, who oversees social security and pension issues, is to submit a detailed proposal for consultation by lawmakers before the summer break.

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Train business deal with Iran causes confusion

The Swiss firm, Stadler Rail, has rejected reports that it signed off on a major infrastructure contract with Iran’s Industrial Development & Renovation Organization for 960 wagons for an underground railway system. The companyexternal link said there is no deal or decision but merely a public tender, according to SRF public radio.

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Former Raiffeisen boss Vincenz faces criminal probe

Zurich prosecutors have opened criminal proceedings against the former chief executive of Swiss banking group Raiffeisen, Pierin Vincenz, looking into suspicions of misdealing. The bank has also joined the probe as a private complainant. “Raiffeisen is therefore making a maximum contribution to the complete clarification of all processes,” the bank said in a statement on Wednesday.

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UN’s Geneva staff planning a strike over pay cuts

Employees of the United Nations in Geneva are planning a half-day strike on Tuesday to protest against wage cuts. The work stoppage would take place during a busy week, with dozens of ministers and officials expected at various events. “We have tried other forms of protest in vain before,” said Ian Richards, head of the Staff Coordinating Council at United Nations Office at Geneva, on Sunday. “They left us no choice.”

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2017 saw upswing in Swiss engineering jobs

The Swiss mechanical, electrical and metal industries are recovering, as indicated by increases in turnover and employment. The industry lobby group Swissmemexternal link reported on Thursday that 4,500 additional jobs were generated in 2017 compared to the previous year, taking the industry total to 322,100. In contrast, 12,600 jobs were cut in 2015 and 2016 combined.

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Quarter of Swiss companies fail to pay bills on time

23.3% of businesses in Switzerland did not pay their bills on time in 2017, found the business information service Bisnode D&Bexternal link in a survey published on Wednesday. That’s 0.3% less late-payers compared to 2016. The average delay of payments was also shorter in 2017, averaging 14.4 days, compared to 15.7 in 2016.

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Rosier economy should boost Swiss housing market

The economic upturn should drive demand for Swiss property after a period of record construction and lower rental prices, a survey claims. The improved economic situation should “revive demand in all segments” of the Swiss housing market, according to Credit Suisse’s Swiss Real Estate Market 2018 reportexternal link, published on Tuesday.

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Average expat in Zurich earns more than $200,000

Zurich and Geneva are among the top cities in the world for expat salaries, according to this year’s HSBC expat salary survey. The average expat can look forward to a pay packet of $206,875 (CHF191,960) in third-place Zurich and $184,942 in fifth-place Geneva.

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Swiss rail cargo to cut over 750 jobs in the hunt for efficiency

The cargo division on the Swiss Federal Railways has announced plans to cut 760 jobs in the coming years. The company currently employs around 2,300 staff in Switzerland. Company boss Nicolas Perrin revealed the job cut measures on Saturday in the weekly Schweiz am Wochenende. According to him, the administrative section of the firm is still too big despite already planning a reduction of 80 posts.

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Swiss Sugar Industry Calls for Action as Prices Crumble

The Swiss sugar industry is facing stiff competition from Europe and is calling for political measures to save the industry. At a press conference in Bern on Friday, industry representatives warned that the scrapping of European quotas had flooded the Swiss market with cheap European products.

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Exports sweeten turnovers for Swiss chocolate makers

Despite a decline in domestic consumption, sales of Swiss chocolate grew by 3.1% in 2017 thanks to foreign demand. On Thursday, the Federation of Swiss Chocolate Manufacturers (Chocosuisse) reported total sales of CHF1.85 billion ($1.98 billion) for the year. The volume of chocolate sold also increased by 2.7% to 190,731 tons.

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Lake Geneva Region Attracts Most Cross-Border Workers

Switzerland continues to attract large volumes of cross-border workers, notably in the Lake Geneva region and around the city of Basel. At the end of last year, 318,002 people were crossing the border each day to work in Switzerland, according to data published by the Federal Statistics Officeexternal link on Friday. This is an increase of 1.7% compared with December 2016.

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Swiss hotel bookings on a high note

After several difficult years, the Swiss hotel industry is recovering. There were 37.4 million overnight stays in 2017 – 5.2% more than in the previous year and nearly as many as the record years of 1990 and 2008. The increase came from locals as well as foreigners. Total domestic demand increased by 4.2% to 16.9 million overnight stays – the highest number of Swiss-based guests ever, the Federal Statistical Office reported on Thursday.

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Swiss government wants old banknotes to be valid indefinitely

The deadline of 20 years to exchange recalled banknotes should be abolished, the Federal Council suggested on Wednesday. The current system, which was introduced in 1921, operates under the assumption that discontinued notes which are not returned to the bank within the exchange deadline have either been lost or damaged.

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2017 sees big boom in internet shopping

Swiss consumers are increasingly turning to the internet for shopping. Online sales were up by 10% in 2017, with a 23% increase in online purchases from abroad. The total sales generated from online shopping in 2017 was CHF8.6 billion ($9.2 billion) last year, with CHF1.6 billion going to companies abroad, The Association of Swiss Mail Order Companies (VSV)external link, the market research company GfK and Swiss Post revealed on Tuesday.

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Switzerland’s Gotthard Base Tunnel wins European Railway Award

The 2018 European Railway Award has been awarded to two pioneers of the Gotthard Base Tunnel, the longest rail tunnel in the world that runs under the Gotthard massif in the Swiss Alps. Peter Jedelhauser of Swiss Railways and Renzo Simoni, former CEO of AlpTransit Gotthard AG, received the award on Tuesday evening in Brussels “on behalf of everyone involved in building and putting Gotthard Base Tunnel into operation”.

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US supermarket giant Walmart now selling Swiss-made chocolate

Swiss retailer Coop is producing bars for Walmart’s own-brand chocolate, the SonntagsZeitung reported on Sunday. The chocolate is produced in a newly established production centre near Basel and has been available in Walmart stores since last year, confirmed Reto Conrad, head of production at Coop, to the German-language newspaper.

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Swiss Post Bus company invested heavily in France and lost millions

The Post has been operating its French subsidiary, CarPostal France at a huge financial loss, reported Swiss public television, SRF, on Monday. The company is also accused of having used a price dumping policy to unfairly increase its market share in France. According to an investigative report by SRF’s economics news bulletin “Eco”, CarPostal accumulated an operating loss of €1.8 million (CHF2.1 million) over the period between 2007 and 2016. The Swiss Post propped its French branch up financially by increasing its capital by €18 million and by waiving debts of €19 million.

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Swiss News Agency calls for help in job cuts conflict

After three weeks of talks, management and staff at the Swiss News Agency (SDA-ATS) have not managed to reach an agreement on job cuts, and are now calling for the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) to mediate. Both sides agreed to the call. Their negotiations followed a strike in late January-early February over a plan to cut up to 40 jobs out of a total 180.

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Swiss financial watchdog publishes ICO guidelines

The Swiss financial watchdog has published guidelines on digital currency fundraisers – known as initial coin offerings – under which it will regulate some ICOs, either under anti-money laundering laws or as securities. The Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) says the guidelines “also define the information FINMA requires to deal with such enquiries and the principles upon which it will base its responses,” according to a press releaseexternal link posted on its website on Friday.

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Number plate sale sets new record at auction

A number plate for the Swiss canton of Zug has sold anonymously at auction for CHF233,000 ($253,353), breaking the previous record of CHF161,000. For now, the buyer of the “ZG 10” plate remains unknown, as the item was sold on Wednesday at an anonymous online auction. Several other car and motorcycle plates were auctioned off at the event, the proceeds of which brought more than CHF500,000 to the treasury of the central Swiss canton.

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Judicial complaint filed over PostBus scandal

The Federal Office of Transport has filed a legal complaint to the Attorney General’s office and judicial authorities of Bern canton in connection with the scandal hitting the Swiss PostBus company. The complaint for possible breaches of administrative law, fraud and mismanagement is filed against unnamed persons.

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Swiss public accounts better than expected in 2017

Swiss government accounts closed with a surplus of CHF2.8 billion ($3 billion) for 2017, compared with a forecast deficit of CHF250 million, Finance Minister Ueli Maurer said at a press conference in Bern on Wednesday. This was due mainly to higher-than-estimated tax revenues.

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Swiss businesses in China upbeat after record export year

According to a survey, 72% of Swiss business leaders in China expect “higher” or “substantially higher” sales of goods from Switzerland to China and Hong Kong in 2018 than in 2017, when exports reached a record CHF16.7 billion ($17.9 billion). Just 5% of business leaders anticipated lower export figures this year, according to the preliminary results of the 2018 Swiss Business in China Survey, which were released Tuesday by Swiss Centers Chinaexternal link.

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Justice ministry confirms legal aid requests in Greece-Novartis scandal

Switzerland’s Federal Office of Justice has confirmed it has received two requests for legal assistance from Greece and the United States linked to probes into Novartis and alleged bribes involving the Swiss drugmaker and Greek doctors and public officials. The two requests for legal assistance linked to the Novartis-Greek scandal were received at the end of last year and in January 2018 and are being studied, a justice ministry official confirmed to Swiss public television, RTS, and the Swiss News Agency on Saturday.

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Swiss Post CEO rejects blame for PostBus subsidies scandal

The head of Swiss Post, Susanne Ruoff, has refused to step down for errors she admits were made at the PostBus subsidiary company regarding the manipulation of accounts to claim tens of millions of francs worth of federal and cantonal subsidies. “I neither lied nor did anything wrong,” Ruoff declared in an interview on Sunday in the SonntagsBlick newspaper.

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Chinese textile firm buys luxury Bally brand

Luxury shoemaker Bally, which was founded in Switzerland in 1851, has again changed hands. China’s Shandong Ruyi has agreed to buy a controlling stake in the firm from Luxembourg-based JAB Holding, the companies said on Friday. “This is an important milestone for Shandong Ruyi Group in our enterprise to become a global leader in the fashion apparel sector,” Yafu Qiu, Chairman of Shandong Ruyi Groupexternal link, said in a statement.

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Swiss stock market holds up amid global turbulence

After a week marked by declines on Wall Street and stalling Asian markets, the Swiss stock market closed on Friday relatively unscathed, with the index of blue chip stocks dropping 0.93% to 8682.00 points. Over the course of the week, the Swiss Market Index (SMI) of leading Swiss stocks fell by 3.1%.

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South Korea and Switzerland set a currency swap

South Korea and Switzerland are entering into a bilateral currency swap agreement, it was announced on Friday. The move is aimed at strengthening buffers against external financial shocks for both countries. “The swap agreement enables Korean won and Swiss francs to be purchased and repurchased between the two central banks, up to a limit of KRW11.2 trillion, or CHF10 billion [$10.6 billion],” a Swiss National Bank statement saidexternal link.

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Swisscom reports job cuts, data breach

The Swiss telecom company, whose majority shareholder is the government, announced plans to reduce up to 700 jobs by the end of the year as part of cost-cutting measures. It also revealed a data breach of client information. “By the end of 2018, Swisscom expects to have a headcount of around 17,000 FTEs [full-time employees] in Switzerland, around 700 fewer than at the end of 2017,” said a company statementexternal link released on Wednesday.

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Wood not labelled properly in Switzerland

Five out of six Swiss companies selling wood or wooden products fail to declare the type and origin of the wood correctly – despite a legal requirement that has been in place since 2012. As the Federal Consumer Affairs Bureauexternal link announced on Tuesday, it conducted 120 inspections last year and found that only 17% of the audited companies had declared their products correctly.

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Greek politicians named in Novartis scandal

Greece’s parliament has linked ten prominent politicians to a bribery scandal involving Swiss drug-maker Novartis. The Greek parliament announced on Tuesday the results of a judicial investigation into alleged bribes paid to public officials by Basel-based Novartisexternal link over nearly a decade to boost subscriptions of their products at public hospitals.

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Swiss tech universities boost economy by CHF13 billion, report says

Switzerland’s federal technology institutes account for 100,000 jobs and CHF13 billion in added value to the economy, a new report calculates. This represents a fivefold return on investment, it claims. The institutes – notably the universities of EPFL in Lausanne and ETH in Zurich – have long been acknowledged as vital components of the Swiss image and economy; the reportexternal link by British consulting firm BiGGAR now tries to put a value on it.

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New Swiss tourism boss targets Alpine cyclists and non-skiers

New head of Switzerland Tourism Martin Nydegger expects hotel bookings to rise by 4% this winter season, owing to abundant snow. In an interview with Sonntagszeiting and Le Matin Dimanche newspapers, he also talks about priorities for 2018. Nydegger took over on January 1 from Jürg Schmid, who had headed the organizationexternal link for 18 years. He says he is planning some changes, but not a big shakeup.

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Motorway stickers set to bring in CHF350 million

Anyone wanting to drive on Swiss motorways from Thursday will need the new 2018 vignette, a charge sticker which is placed inside one’s windscreen, costing CHF40 ($42.90). The Federal Customs Administration said on Wednesday it expected to sell around 9.6 million vignettes, resulting in a net income of some CHF347 million.

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Swiss face longer commutes

The average commute time to work in Switzerland was 30 minutes in 2016, or 14.8 kilometres (9.2 miles), according to the Federal Statistical Office. This is 7% more than in 2010. Every day, 3.9 million people, out of a labour force of 4.8 million, commuted to work in 2016 – up from 2.9 million in 1990.

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More fighter jets grounded after cracks found

The Swiss Air Force has found cracks in a further three of its 30 F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets. The aircraft have been taken out of action, the defence ministry said on Friday. A broken hinge was first discovered on a landing flap of an F/A-18C during an intermediate inspection at the end of Januaryexternal link. It was then decided to submit all remaining F/A-18 jetsexternal link to tests, to ensure their air worthiness and safety.

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Switzerland ranked ‘global capital of bank secrecy’

Switzerland is the most secretive financial centre in the world, followed by the United States, according to the Tax Justice Network, a non-governmental organization that campaigns for greater transparency. The Cayman Islands, Hong Kong, Singapore, Luxembourg, Germany, Taiwan, the United Arab Emirates and Guernsey (in descending order) were ranked in the top ten of the NGOs Financial Secrecy Indexexternal link, published on Tuesday.

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Swiss watch industry posts growth

After two years of decline, the Swiss watch industry grew by 2.7% in 2017, according to the figures released by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) on Tuesday. Exports grew by 2.7 % to CHF19.9 billion ($21.3 billion) on 2016. “Growth returned sooner than expected,” said the FH in a press release.

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Swiss court condemns €8 per hour wages of Polish workers

A labour court in Geneva has ruled against a Polish subcontractor that underpaid its seconded employees working on a Geneva building site. The workers were earning €8 an hour, about a third of what the work warranted, the court said. The case has been ongoing for almost five years and was led by the UNIA trade union on behalf of the workers.

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Swiss continue to rent rather than buy houses

Some 59% of Swiss households were rentals in 2015, according to the most recent figures. The average monthly rent across the country came in at just over CHF1,300 ($1,395). The numbers were released on Monday by the Federal Statistical Office and reflect the situation at the end of 2015, when 2.1 million rented accommodations were recorded.

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Economics minister praises Swiss tax system

Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann has downplayed concerns that Swiss-based American firms might relocate to the United States in the wake of tax reform. Speaking in Davos ahead of a visit by US President Donald Trump, Schneider-Ammann said that if he were head of an American company he would think twice before such a relocation, since there is no guarantee the tax breaks will still be in place a few years from now.

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Swiss president says Trump meeting was productive

Swiss President Alain Berset says his meeting with US President Donald Trump at the World Economic Forum in Davos was productive and frank. Trump took credit for making Switzerland “even richer”. “You have a lot of our stock in the United States so I have helped to make Switzerland even richer,” Trump said shortly after the meeting. He said a booming US economy was good for Switzerland.

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Switzerland ranked second-most ‘globalised’ nation

Switzerland is the second-most globalised country in the world after the Netherlands, according to the latest edition of an index prepared by the University of Zurich. The Alpine nation has moved up from fifth place. The index prepared by the KOF Swiss Economic Instituteexternal link tracks countries’ levels of globalisation across politics, economics, and society. The current edition uses data up to and including the year 2015.

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Swiss banks benefit from exchange rates, study finds

A study of over 40 Swiss finance institutions has revealed ‘striking’ differences in exchange rates for banknotes and currencies as well as the addition of hefty mark-ups and fees. Online banking and insurance comparison service moneyland.ch examined the exchange rates for euros, dollars, pounds, Swedish krona and Thai baht over the course of their six-day analysis, the results of which were released Wednesday.

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Swiss authorities to consider blockchain supervision

The federal authorities have set up a special working group to look into how to properly oversee blockchain technologies and initial coin offerings (ICO). The Swiss taskforce is set to report back by the end of 2018. The State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF) announced on Thursday that it had established a blockchain/ICO working group to review the legal framework and to identify any need for action alongside the Federal Office of Justice, the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) and in consultation with the financial sector.

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Jobless in Switzerland need more education, say social groups

Two leading Swiss organisations for social action and further education have called for big investment in training opportunities for the unemployed. At a press conference on Monday in Bern, the Swiss Conference of Social Institutions and the Swiss Federation for Further Education called on the state to invest in a schemeexternal link that they say could send 75,000 unemployed back into the job market.

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Swiss want only five bilateral treaties under EU framework agreement

According to an unpublished list that was revealed in some Swiss papers, Switzerland wants only five of around 120 bilateral treaties with the European Union to figure in a future institutional framework agreement. A reportexternal link on foreign economic policy published on Wednesday stated that an institutional framework agreement would apply to those bilateral agreements that allow access to certain areas of the European Union’s (EU) internal market.

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Swiss companies leaking executives abroad

Multinational companies based in Switzerland are increasingly moving experienced executives abroad to run production sites in lower-cost countries, according to a jobs placement company. The trend has been blamed on regulatory uncertainty in the Swiss marketplace.

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Trump to attend WEF gathering in Davos

United States President Donald Trump plans to attend the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland later this month, his spokeswoman said on Tuesday. In a statement, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House press secretary, said Trump was looking forward to attending the annual gatheringexternal link of world leaders and business executives in the mountain resort in southeast Switzerland.

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Number of unemployed in Switzerland drops by 4 percents

The Swiss unemployment rate fell from 3.3% in 2016 to 3.2% in 2017, according to figures released by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) on Tuesday. In terms of actual numbers, 143,142 people were registered as unemployed, a decrease of 6,175 compared with the year before.

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Trade Unions Call for Fewer Hours, More Gender Equality

The Swiss Trade Union Federation is demanding shorter work weeks, compensation for pension losses and enforcement of equal pay for men and women. At its annual media conference in Bern on Thursday, the Swiss Trade Union Federationexternal link pointed out that employees have been suffering since the financial crisis.

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Swiss Retailers Suffered Lacklustre Sales growth in 2017

Switzerland’s retail sector failed to profit from a weaker franc and improving economy last year and business remains sluggish, according to a Credit Suisse report. Retail sales increased by 0.1% in 2017 after two years’ decline, Credit Suisse noted in its annual industry surveyexternal link published on Tuesday.

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Swiss court stops handover of bank employee details to US

Switzerland’s highest court has ruled against the transfer of details of third parties such as bank employees or solicitors in cases of information handovers involving tax dodgers. Wednesday’s ruling by the Federal Court upheld an earlier decision in a case brought by a US expat in Switzerland who disputed the transfer of details gleaned from his bank by the Swiss Federal Tax Administration (FTA).

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Fintech and fake cannabis drive record number of Swiss start-ups

The year 2017 saw a record number of businesses created in Switzerland, many of them centred in the booming ‘crypto valley’ region, according to online platform startups.ch. Some 43,416 businesses were created, said the information and advisory websiteexternal link, an increase of 5% on 2016 and an absolute record in Switzerland.

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Swiss executives predict strong economic year in 2018

Eight out of ten Swiss business executives anticipate a positive economic outlook for the country in 2018, according to an annual survey carried out by the SonntagsZeitung newspaper. Is it a sign that moods are changing after a 2017 that many would describe as turbulent? Or rather another indication of the Swiss exception, the country having largely escaped much of the economic and political turmoil that marked the past decade?

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Digitalisation will reverse offshoring trends, says ABB head

Thanks to advances in robotics and digitalisation, the trend towards the offshoring of manufacturing jobs to cheaper countries is set to be reversed, according to the president of Zurich-based industry giant ABB group. In an interview published Sunday in the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper, Peter Voser said that digital progress is bringing manufacturing and markets closer together again.

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Thousands of Swiss take VW to court in emissions scandal

Some 6,000 people in Switzerland have banded together to sue German car manufacturer Volkswagen and a Swiss car dealer for damages related to the exhaust scandal. The Consumer Protection Organisation (SKS)external link announced on Friday that it had filed a claim on behalf of about 6,000 car owners at the Zurich Commercial Court. The owners say they suffered financial losses because the vehicles’ exhaust systems had been manipulated.

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Nestle tops list as most valuable Swiss company

With a market value of $264 billion (CHF258 billion), Nestlé has claimed second place in Europe behind Royal Dutch Shell ($276 billion) in global rankings published by consultancy EY on Friday. However, that only put them in 17th and 18th place respectively, well below the global ranking leaders: the Silicon Valley tech giants Apple ($876 billion), Alphabet ($733 billion) and Microsoft ($661 billion).

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Getting easier to get to Swiss business hubs

Swiss business hubs like Zurich are more globally accessible than they were a few years ago. According to the latest “accessibility index” from economic research institute BAK Economicsexternal link in Basel, Zurich has jumped in the rankings from 34 to 28. This is due to improved connections to business hubs in China, India and the United States, says BAK.

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St Moritz becomes first Swiss ski resort to accept Bitcoin

Ski lifts in and around St Moritz in the Engadine Valley have started accepting Bitcoins as payment for passes. According to Swiss public television, SRF, and the newspaper Südostschweiz, Engadin St Moritz is the first Swiss lift company to recognise payments with cryptocurrencies.

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Darwin Airlines bankruptcy under criminal investigation

The public prosecutor of the southern Swiss canton of Ticino has opened criminal proceedings over irregularities concerning the bankruptcy of regional carrier Darwin Airlines. According to the SonntagsZeitung paper, the Ticino public prosecutor opened criminal proceedings against “unknown persons” on Thursday after the bankruptcy office in Lugano drew his attention to suspected irregularities.

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Great St Bernard Tunnel reopens after three-month closure

Switzerland’s oldest traffic tunnel through the Alps reopened on Christmas eve after a three-month closure due to problems with the ventilation system. After extensive repair work, the tunnel that connects Martigny in the western Swiss canton of Valais with the Aosta Valley in northwestern Italy reopened to traffic at 8am on Sunday. Motorists wishing to traverse the Alps though the tunnel can travel for free until January 1, 2018

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Swiss National Bank buys paper factory for banknote production

To guarantee the smooth roll-out of its new banknote series, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) has bought a struggling paper factory in eastern Switzerland. The takeover of Landqart AG, valued at CHF21.5 million ($21.7 million), is split between the SNB (90%) and the security printing division of Swiss publisher Orell Füssli (10%).

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Public Eye issues criminal complaint against Glencore

Swiss NGO Public Eye has filed a criminal complaint with the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland against the activities of Swiss commodities giant Glencore in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The Office of the Attorney Generalexternal link on Tuesday confirmed receipt of the complaint but said further details were currently not possible, according to the Swiss News Agency.

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Veterinary office lifts quarantine for Swiss chicken farm

A poultry farm in southern Switzerland has been given a clean bill of health following a recent outbreak of the virulent Newcastle virus that resulted in thousands of chickens being put down. Veterinarians in canton Ticino confirmed that the farm is no longer infected and that all remaining animals are now free of the disease.

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Helvetia chairman resigns amid ongoing FINMA probe

The chairman of the Swiss insurance company Helvetia, Pierin Vincenz, has resigned. The Swiss financial regulator, FINMA, is currently investigating his activities during his time in charge of the Raiffeisen bank. In a statementexternal link released on Monday, Helvetia said Vincenz had stepped down with immediate effect.

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Switzerland should not act alone against tax havens

Switzerland must not go to war on its own against offshore tax havens in the wake of the Panama Papers scandal, the lower chamber of parliament has agreed. It prefers concerted action with other countries and wants to see the results of existing measures. The House of Representatives on Thursday rejected two motions and two parliamentary questions, supported by the leftwing Social Democrats and Greens, which had called for financial transactions towards offshore havens to be taxed and for tougher laws on so-called letterbox or domiciled companies.

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China tops export destination ranking for Swiss SMEs

A study commissioned by Switzerland Global Enterprise (SGE) indicates that China is the most attractive export destination for Swiss small and medium enterprises (SMEs). A total of 107 countries were evaluated using a set of 15 criteria that included market size, market potential, export volume and average market growth in recent years.

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UBS chairman warns of ‘bitcoin bubble’

Axel Weber, the board chairman of big bank UBS, has warned of a possible Bitcoin currency crash. With increasing numbers of small investors jumping on the cryptocurrency bandwagon, it is time for regulators to intervene, he says. Bitcoin has surged from $1,000 (CHF9,900) at the start of the year to above $16,000.

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Uber to stop offering budget service in Basel

The ride-sharing firm Uber has announced it will abandon its UberPop service in the city of Basel from June 1, 2018, as it is not profitable enough. UberPop has already been discontinued in Zurich and Lausanne. According to the company, the decision was taken due to feedback from its partners, who wanted to earn more money through the more expensive UberX service. Economic success was not possible through its cheapest service UberPop, the company stated.

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Darwin Airline announces bankruptcy to staff

Swiss regional carrier Darwin Airline has been forced to concede bankruptcy after a period of serious financial problems. Its plight will cause further headaches for the airport of Lugano in southern Switzerland, where it is based. A fortnight after seeing its fleet grounded by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation, the company informed its 250 staff on Tuesday that bankruptcy was imminent.

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EU tax grey list splits Federal Council

Johann Schneider

It’s “hardly a tragedy” that the European Union has placed Switzerland on a grey list of non-cooperative jurisdictions for tax purposes, says Finance Minister Ueli Maurer. Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, on the other hand, says he is “irritated” by the move.

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General Electric to cut 1,400 Swiss jobs

General Electric (GE) has announced plans to cut around a third of its workforce based in northern Switzerland as the American multinational responds to a sharp fall in demand for fossil fuel power equipment. GE aims to cut up to 1,400 jobs over the next two years at its GE Power unit in the northern Swiss canton of Aargau, where it employs 4,200 people unit focusing on gas and steam turbine production, but said no locations would close. The unit was taken over at the end of 2015 from Alstom.

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SWISS expands Zurich flights, fears airport restrictions

Switzerland’s national airline has enjoyed a profitable year and expects continued success, but its chief executive says restrictions at Zurich Airport are making it difficult to meet passenger demand. Thomas Klühr, the head of the Lufthansa-Group-owned Swiss National Airlines SWISS, told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper that developments such as the bankruptcy of German carrier Air Berlin have led to increased demand for certain European routes.

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Study shows Swiss soils are suffering

A first nationwide report on the health of Swiss soils has shown that virtually all are polluted and that the resource is not being put to sustainable use. The report, published Thursday by the Federal Office for the Environment in collaboration with the offices for agriculture and spatial development, brings together information about soil health that until now has been gathered in isolation through separate cantonal or regional research projects.

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Beer sales slowly dry up in Switzerland

Swiss beer fans can enjoy an increasingly diverse selection(Keystone/Angelika Warmuth)

The amount of beer consumed in Switzerland declined last year, as it did for wine. Yet the number of specialist craft microbreweries continues to rise. Between October 2016 and September 2017, the Swiss drank 461 million litres of beer (54.5 litres per person) – down 0.2% on the previous reporting period, according to the Swiss Breweries Association (SBA)external link. As shown in the chart below, the downturn in the Swiss beer market began in the 1990s. 

(1)
Beer graphic

The low point, in 2005, corresponds to when Switzerland lowered the blood-alcohol drink driving limit from 0.8 milligrams per

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Darwin Airline planes grounded

Switzerland’s Darwin Airline, the Lugano-based regional carrier, was forced to halt all its flights on Tuesday after its licence was revoked by the Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) over financial problems.

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WEF founder flags need for solidarity

In an interview with newspaper NZZamSonntag, Klaus Schwab, founder of the World Economic Forum, says that WEF is more relevant than ever. “We’re the witnesses to a transformation from a unipolar to a multipolar world. In this situation, the attempt to build bridges and work together is more important than ever,” the 80-year-old German engineer and economist told the newspaper.

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Richest get richer – Switzerland’s top 300

The wealthiest people in one of the world’s wealthiest nations – Switzerland, have increased their assets by CHF60 billion over the past year. According to the latest edition of the German-language business magazine, Bilanz, the 300 richest residents of the country have assets totalling CHF674 billion.

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Swiss Watchmaker Optimistic about Business Prospects

The chief executive of the Swatch Group, a leading Swiss manufacturer of watches and jewelry, is upbeat about business prospects for the coming year. Nick Hayek says the Swatch Groupexternal link hopes to reach the ambitious target of a 7%-9% increase in sales this year.

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What do the Swiss spend their money on?

The Swiss had an average net household disposable income in 2015 of CHF6,957 ($7,007) a month, the Federal Statistical Office has reported. Every month, around CHF560 was spent on leisure and cultural activities – and CHF89 on cats and dogs.

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Oil Trader Slams “defamatory” NGO Teport

Commodities trading company Vitol has taken legal action against “inaccurate and defamatory” allegations made by the Swiss NGO Public Eye in the wake of the Paradise Papers revelations. Public Eye issued a press release and report on November 10 accusing four Swiss-based commodities traders, including Vitol, of doing business “with dodgy individuals or politically exposed partners” and colluding with the Appleby law firm to conceal “business relationships associated with serious risks of corruption or conflicts of interest”.

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Stories making the Swiss Sunday papers

Good news from the Swiss watchmaking industry, plans to ban under-18s from solariums because of health risks and a warning that the Swiss railway system could face chaos in December. The Swiss watchmaking industry has made a turnaround following a three-year dip. Nick Hayek, CEO of the Swatch Group, told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper that his company recorded a massive increase in turnover over the past two months, resulting even in production bottlenecks.

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Swiss HSBC settles French tax fraud dispute

With a payment of €300 million (CHF350 million), the Swiss subsidiary of British bank HSBC has settled its tax fraud dispute with the French authorities. Investigations by the French government revealed that many French taxpayers had hidden their assets with help from HSBC’s private bank.

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Switzerland asked to aid Mauritian inquiry into Basel-based Dufry

Switzerland’s federal prosecutor’s office is handling a request for mutual assistance in an investigation involving the Basel-based duty-free group Dufry. The request was sent by the government of Mauritius, which according to reports in two Swiss newspapers is looking into the details of an exclusive agreement reached between Dufry and two Mauritian airports.

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Swiss Top Global Wealth Ranking

The average fortune of a Swiss adult is $537,600 (CHF528,000), according to the 2017 Credit Suisse Global Wealth Report. Switzerland continues to top the Credit Suisse global list for wealth per adult, followed by Australia ($402,600), the United States ($388,600) and New Zealand ($337,400).

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Credit Suisse Fined $135 million for Malpractices

Credit Suisse bank has been ordered to pay a fine of $135 million (CHF134.5 million) to the US authorities after an enquiry into the Swiss bank’s practices in setting foreign exchange rates. The figure was reached in a consultation between both parties.

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Swiss justice minister calls for commodities crackdown

Following revelations in the so-called “Paradise Papers” of questionable deals done by Swiss-based commodities companies in Africa, Switzerland’s justice minister has said that the country – historically hands-off in regulating the sector – needs new legislation to force those companies to play by the rules.

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Stories making the Swiss Sunday papers

The following stories were reported in Switzerland’s Sunday press on November 12, 2017. A major South American rail deal. The SonntagsBlick newspaper reports that Bolivian President Evo Morales will head to Switzerland on December 14 to sign a memorandum of understanding with Swiss Transport Minister Doris Leuthard over a massive South American rail transport project.

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One in five Swiss avoids visiting doctor due to costs

Just over 20% of Swiss residents decided not to see a doctor last year for medical treatment due to the high costs, according to a new report. This is one of the findings of the Health at a Glance 2017 reportexternal link published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) on Friday. The share of the population foregoing a doctor’s consultation due to cost in 2016 was highest in Poland (33% of the population) followed by the United States (22.3%).

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Swiss tax spy avoids jail time as Frankfurt trial ends

A Swiss man on trial in Frankfurt has been found guilty of spying on the tax authorities of the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW). ‘Daniel M.’ was handed a suspended sentence of 22 months and a fine of €40,000 (CHF46,600). The verdict brings to a premature end the twists and turns of a case that brought scrutiny on Swiss-German diplomatic relations since the arrest of the 54-year-old in April this year.

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BMW must pay multimillion-franc fine, Swiss court rules

Switzerland’s highest court has confirmed a CHF157 million ($158 million) fine against German luxury carmaker BMW for blocking car shipments to Switzerland. The fine was originally levied on BMWexternal link by Switzerland’s Competition Commissionexternal link (COMCO) in May 2012 for preventing Swiss residents from buying BMW cars from the European Economic Area (EEA) and importing them to Switzerland, after the strong francexternal link made prices in Switzerland up to a quarter higher.

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Trust in online content takes a big hit

Internet users in Switzerland rate their computer skills as good, but trust in online news content has dropped significantly, according to a survey by the University of Zurich. An overwhelming majority (83%) of users stated they can easily distinguish between important and unimportant online activities.

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Lausanne cancels artist’s appearance over security fears 

A book festival in Lausanne has cancelled an invitation to Marsault, a controversial French comic book artist, after the organisers said they received threats from activists.The organisers of the Lausan’noir crime thriller book festivalexternal link say they will not be welcoming the French comic book artist Marsault to their event, which takes place in the Swiss city from October 27-29.

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Global billionaire club gets bigger and richer

The total wealth of the world’s 1,542 billionaires – including 35 in Switzerland – grew 17% to $6 trillion (CHF5.93 trillion) last year, led by a surge in Asia’s emerging billionaire class and growth in the materials, industrials, financial and technology sectors.

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Swiss tax spy ‘acted out of patriotism’

A Swiss man accused of spying on the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia’s (NRW) tax authority has confessed and named names. In a Frankfurt court on Thursday, the 54-year-old man, identified only as Daniel M., explained via his defence team that he had not acted with criminal intent. Rather his motivation was “patriotism, a desire for adventure, a pursuit of profit, and outrage”.

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Switzerland drops in international pension ranking

The Swiss pension system has ranked eighth in an annual international study looking at the sustainability and efficiency of retirement schemes. This represents a drop of four places in the past two years, largely driven by sustainability issues.The Global Pension Indexexternal link, published by consulting group Mercer, ranks 30 countries according to a methodology based on adequacy (the design of the system), sustainability (breadth of coverage, long-term prospects) and integrity (governance and regulation).

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Most young Swiss keep informed online

Social media is becoming increasingly dominant in the Swiss media industry, controlling not only consumer habits but also the advertising market. In addition, television is dying. These are the findings of the latest “Yearbook Quality of the Media” by the University of Zurich. They are strong, they are dominant, they have money – and they are located outside the Swiss sphere of influence: the internet giants or “tech intermediaries”.

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Switzerland ranks highly in youth employment survey

Switzerland has the second-best labour market for young Europeans behind Denmark, according to a ranking of over 30 countries. Denmark came top, followed by Switzerland, Austria, Germany and the Netherlands in the latest KOF Youth Labour Market Indexexternal link, which analysed the year 2015. The ranking is produced annually by the Economic Institute (KOF) at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (ETHZ).

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Stories making the Swiss Sunday papers

Scepticism of Sion’s Winter Olympics bid, the cost of travelling around the country and Switzerland’s addiction to sugar – here are some of the leading stories making Swiss newspapers on Sunday. The bid for the 2026 Winter Olympics has seriously underestimated the cost of security for the event, according to some observers.

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Government against allowing foreign inter-city bus operators

The Swiss cabinet is not in favour of liberalising the Swiss transport market by allowing foreign coach firms to offer inter-city services within Switzerland. In a report released on Thursday, the seven-member body said it is not keen on going beyond the current legal framework, as it deems the quality of existing international transport options in Switzerland as satisfactory.

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Suspected Swiss tax spy trial underway in Germany

The trial in Frankfurt of a Swiss private investigator accused of spying on the tax authorities in the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia is underway, but already temporarily suspended. The 54-year-old allegedly acted on behalf of the Swiss intelligence service trying to uncover a series of thefts of CDs with data on suspected tax dodgers who held money in Swiss banks, according to German prosecutors.

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Credit Suisse targeted for break-up by activist hedge fund

A Swiss hedge fund is poised to launch an activist campaign to break up Credit Suisse, tapping into investor impatience with the progress of the bank’s turnround under chief executive Tidjane Thiam. RBR Capital Advisors, supported by Gaël de Boissard, a former Credit Suisse investment bank co-head, is set to unveil the plan later this week at the JPMorgan Robin Hood investor conference in New York, according to people briefed on it.

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Bern’s SkyWork could be grounded at end of month

SkyWork Airlines, which flies to various European destinations from Bern Airport, may be forced to cease operations by the end of October due to its unstable financial situation. The Federal Office of Civil Aviation (FOCA) has limited SkyWork’s operating permit to the end of this month because the company is unable to meet its financial commitments for its 2017 and 2018 winter schedule.

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Swiss blue-chip CEOs dominate European wage ranking

The chief executive officers of Switzerland’s top firms take home almost double the median salaries of Europe’s 100 biggest companies, according to a study by consultants Willis Towers Watson.The Eurotop 100 study, presented on Thursday, studied the direct remuneration – not including pension or bonuses – of the CEOs of the 100 most highly capitalised blue-chip companies in Europe.

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Watch industry unperturbed by new ‘Swiss made’ regulations

The majority of Swiss watch executives surveyed by consulting firm Deloitte are positive about new rules requiring at least 60% of a watch’s manufactured costs to be incurred in Switzerland. According to the Deloitte Swiss Watch Industry Study 2017external link, released on Wednesday, 44% of 60 watch executives surveyed consider the new “Swiss made” rules to be positive compared to 20% who believed they would have a negative effect.

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Swiss abroad need Swiss bank accounts

Big Swiss banks should make it easier for Swiss people living abroad to maintain a bank account, finds the Senate. Senators voted 23 to 14 on Tuesday in favour of a motion to make the five largest Swiss banks provide accounts under reasonable conditions. Six senators abstained from the vote, which came during the autumn parliamentary session in Bern.

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Swiss Life under scrutiny of US authorities for tax evasion

nsurance firm Swiss Life has announced that it has been approached by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding its cross-border business with US clients. After going after Swiss banks with a vengeance for abetting tax evasion, it appears that it is now the turn of the Swiss insurance industry to attract unfavourable attention from the DOJ. Products called “insurance wrappers” – offered by Swiss Life affiliates – could potentially have aroused suspicion.

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Red Cross launches new bond to tap private money

The Swiss-run International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has launched the world’s first ‘Humanitarian Impact Bond’, which encourages private sector investment in humanitarian programmes. The innovative “payment-by-results” model centres on a five-year private placement programme entitled the ‘Programme for Humanitarian Impact Investments’, or PHII, which will be executed with the support of the Swiss government and Swiss bank Lombard Odier.

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Hard times continue for Swiss private banks

Over half of private banks in Switzerland analysed by KPMG last year experienced net outflows of client cash. In a difficult period for finance, many could be forced to shut down or be bought out. “Implement truly radical change, or continue to see performance deteriorate.” This was the message of a study released Thursday by audit group KPMG with the University of St. Gallen, evaluating the performance of 85 Swiss private banks.

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Currywurst? That’ll be 0.0019 bitcoins please

The traditional favourite snack of late night revellers – the currywurst, or curried sausage – has just entered the digital world. It can now be paid for using the cryptocurrency bitcoin in Switzerland. The Wurst & Moritzexternal link company has responded to repeated demand from customers to spend their hard-earned bitcoins in its restaurants in Zurich and Bern.

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Nestlé Skin Health to shed almost 200 jobs

Nestlé Skin Health will cease operations at its Egerkingen factory in canton Solothurn and move manufacturing activities abroad, threatening 190 positions. “Production volumes in Egerkingen are and have been very low, resulting in underutilisation of assets and hence additional pressure on manufacturing cost,” the company, which creates skin, hair and nail products, said in a statement on Thursday.

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Spending cuts for asylum seekers proposed

The government wants to cut its financial contributions to asylum seekers as part of efforts to tighten the asylum procedure in Switzerland. The payments for individuals, currently around CHF6,000 ($6,312), could be reduced by a third, according to the Swiss News Agency.

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Cabinet Called on to Join EU’s no-roaming Charges Deal

The cantonal government of Graubünden has demanded that the cabinet sign Switzerland up to European Union rules abolishing roaming charges. Without such an agreement, the Swiss tourist industry is at a disadvantage, the Graubünden government said in a letter sent last week to Swiss president, Doris Leuthard, according to the Swiss News Agency.

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Bank lobby group sees hope for shrinking Swiss sector

The Swiss banking sector shrank once again last year in terms of banks, profits, share of offshore wealth under management and number of employees. The Swiss Bankers Association (SBA) nevertheless believes there are positives to be found amidst the bleak figures.

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Swiss Agency Reports Major Breach of Online Credentials

Around 21,000 passwords and personal details used to access online services have been stolen and could be used illegally, Switzerland’s cybercrime monitoring centre has reported. The Reporting and Analysis Centre for Information Assurance (MELANI) said on Tuesday that a confidential source had sent copies of the stolen data to the cybercrime centre.

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Petition calls for faster, stricter diesel standards in Switzerland

Diesel

Swiss citizens are calling on their government to more quickly require stricter anti-pollution tests for diesel cars. Some 7,200 people submitted a petition to the Federal Chancellery on Tuesday. 
The petition, also supported by various environmental and consumer lobby groups, asks Swiss Transport Minister Doris Leuthard to ensure that new diesel cars only be allowed on the road if they “strictly conform” to the Euro-6d-TEMP emissions standard. In Germany, newly certified diesel cars must adhere to that standard starting next month.

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Power company Alpiq decides not to sell Swiss hydro assets

Swiss energy concern Alpiq has changed its mind about selling up to 49% of its hydropower portfolio due to a tough market environment. In March 2016, Alpiq declared that it was planning to sell a large share of its hydropower assets to investors, provoking strong reactions in the power sector and media. Hydropower is a central pillar of the Swiss electricity supply – some 60% of Switzerland’s energy is produced by water.

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Small Swiss firms struggle to recruit qualified staff

One in four small and medium-sized Swiss firms (SMEs) suffers due to a serious lack of qualified staff, a new Credit Suisse survey reveals. The economic situation in Switzerland is generally favourable to most SMEs, which are slightly more optimistic about the future than they were last year, a Credit Suisse report published on Thursday stated. But difficulties recruiting qualified staff are worrying.

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Swiss firms face greater shareholder opposition

Shareholder rebellion over executive pay at Credit Suisse earlier this year is just one example of growing dissent by Swiss company owners. While annual general meetings are hardly a hotbed of revolutionary unrest, shareholders are slowly – but perceptibly – demanding more accountability.

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Swiss business lobby rejects idea of ‘robot tax’

The Swiss Business Federation (economiesuisse) rejects imposing a so-called robot tax on companies to make up for lost income taxes as workers are gradually replaced by machines. Rather than focusing on a robot tax, Switzerland should encourage the development of a faster internet network and cooperation between business and Swiss research institutes, declared a new economiesuisse reportexternal link on the digital economy, which was published on Tuesday.

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Payerne Airport Finally Starts to take off

After years of negotiations, Payerne’s regional civilian airport and future business aviation hub is starting to take shape. The first stone of an airport building in northwest Switzerland has been laid. “It’s a day of celebration and joy,” Fribourg businessman Damien Piller told reporters at a ceremony to mark the start of construction of the main airport building on Monday. Work should last 18 months.

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Stories making the Swiss Sunday papers

A wide range of topics occupied Swiss newspapers this weekend, from Swiss investments in US arms companies and requirements for FIFA World Cup host countries, to what to do in the event of a terror attack. A critique of Geneva’s relationship with the Red Cross also made headlines.

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Swiss Asset Manager Settles US Tax Evasion Charges

The Geneva asset management firm Prime Partners has agreed to pay $5 million (CHF4.8 million) to the United States to settle charges for tax evasion and assisting US taxpayers in opening and maintaining undeclared foreign bank accounts from 2001 to 2010.

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Swiss companies pull out of Venezuela

Swiss firms have been cutting hundreds of jobs in long-established branch offices in Venezuela, as the oil-producing country experiences an economic and political crisis. “The disaster – economic, social, political and humanitarian – which is engulfing Venezuela with the government of [president] Nicolas Maduro is forcing Swiss companies to resize their presence or to gradually leave the country,” wrote French-language newspaper Le Temps, which based its article on an investigation by Handelszeitung, a Zurich business weekly.

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Government compromises on medical tariffs

The Swiss cabinet has approved an amended billing system for medical treatments aimed at creating more transparency and limiting a further increase in healthcare costs.The decision is expected to lead to annual savings of CHF470 million ($483 million) and a drop of about 1.5 percentage points in insurance fees for patients, according to Interior Minister Alain Berset.

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Passengers may pay price for Air Berlin strife

Airline passengers in Switzerland are bracing themselves for a hike in prices for flights to Germany following the insolvency of budget carrier Air Berlin. The airline had been running at a loss for several years, prompting owner Etihad to pull the plug on Tuesday.

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Jumbolinos Wheeled out to Pasture

Swiss International Air Lines has for the last time flown passengers in an Avro RJ100, fondly called a Jumbolino by many pilots, flight attendants and passengers. The full plane, which flew from London to Zurich on Monday night, carried 81 passengers.

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Indian arms dealer’s Swiss accounts under scrutiny

Swiss authorities have received requests for information concerning possible Swiss bank accounts of Indian defence deals broker Sanjay Bhandari. He is under investigation for allegedly helping Swiss firm Pilatus secure an order for 75 training aircraft for the Indian Air Force in 2012.

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Swiss rank second in Europe for online spending

According to a European comparison, Swiss residents spend the second-most money annually on online purchases, after British shoppers. Each year, people in Switzerland click their way to an average of CHF1,172 ($1,202) in online goods per person. Shoppers in Britain topped the list with CHF1,280 in online purchases, with Norwegians coming in third at CHF1,053 per year.

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UberPop service cancelled in Zurich

Car-and-driver provider Uber has decided to drop its UberPop service in Zurich following controversy over its legality. The change does not apply to Basel or Geneva. The change takes effect on Thursday at midday. Zurich UberPop drivers will have three months to get permits that will allow them to chauffeur passengers for pay under the more expensive UberX and UberBlack services.

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Would you take a pilotless plane?

Pilotless cargo and passenger planes could be in use within eight years and save airlines billions, according to a report by Swiss bank UBS. But customers remain wary of the new technology despite potential fare reductions. “In the not-too-distant future, we would expect to see a situation where flights are pilotless or the number of pilots shrinks to one, with a remote pilot based on the ground and highly-secure ground-to-air communications,” the UBS researchers wrote in the surveyexternal link published on Monday.

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Unions demand 2 percent wage increase as economy improves

Staff should start enjoying the benefits of Switzerland’s improving economic performance, says the country’s second-largest trade union group, Travail. Suisse, which is demanding a 2% salary increase for workers. “It’s been some time since the economic perspectives have looked this positive. The forecasts announce solid and lasting economic growth. This recovery must have an impact on employees,” Travail.

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Increased demand from Asia helps fill Swiss hotel rooms

The number of overnight stays in Swiss hotels rose by 4.4% in the first half of 2017 compared to the same period the year before. Tourists from India and China were largely responsible for the increase in demand. According to figures released by Federal Statistical Office on Monday, tourists – both domestic and international – spent a total of 17.6 million nights in Swiss hotels during the first semester.

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Addax Petroleum to close operations in Geneva

Chinese-owned oil and gas extractor firm Addax Petroleum is shutting its offices in the Swiss city of Geneva as well as in Aberdeen, Scotland and Houston in the United States. The company on Monday confirmed a report by the Tribune de Genève newspaper, saying its parent firm Sinopec International Petroleum Exploration and Production Corporation (SIPC) would integrate the three offices into a new technical centre in Beijing by the end of this year.

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Switzerland: Number of ‘near miss’ plane incidents double

Switzerland’s transport safety authority reports an increase in serious violations of air safety regulations that could have potentially led to collisions. According the 2016 annual report of the Swiss Transportation Safety Investigation Board released end of July, the number of aviation incidents are on the decrease (1,219 in 2016 vs 1,260 in 2015).

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Dying men generate higher health costs

Both gender and location influence the cost of end-of-life healthcare in Switzerland, finds a study funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation. In their analysis of 113,277 people who died between 2008 and 2010, researchers studied regional variations in cost of care during the last 12 months of life in Switzerland. Per person, the mean cost of care during that final year was CHF32,500 ($33,540).

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Gotthard Rail Tunnel Boosts North-South Traffic by a Third

About 2.3 million rail passengers have travelled through the new transalpine tunnel in Switzerland over the past eight months, an increase of 30% compared with same period a year ago. On average, 10,400 people cross the Gotthard base tunnel in central Switzerland every day, according to the Federal Railways.

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Swiss banks defy Brexit to recruit in London

At the same time as big global banks are considering alternatives to London in the wake of the Brexit vote, Swiss newspaper Le Matin Dimanche reports, financial institutions are also recruiting new staff in the City. Rather than in commercial banking, however, these employees specialise in private wealth management.

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Popularity of diesel becoming exhausted

Last June in Munich, Greenpeace symbolically showcased a diesel engine in a coffin. After decades of rapid growth, the popularity of diesel vehicles in Switzerland is on the wane following scandals and concerns about environmental impact.

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Long Gotthard tailbacks for holiday weekend

Holiday-weekend traffic has been causing long tailbacks at both ends of the Gotthard tunnel in central Switzerland. Reports of two-hour jams on Saturday may re-surface debates about traffic in the region.

Southbound traffic waits to enter the Gotthard tunnel.(Keystone)

As Swiss National Day approaches on 1 August, this weekend saw large movements of traffic crossing the country, with the usual bottleneck of the Gotthard tunnel bearing the brunt of tailbacks.The 17-kilometre tunnel, which runs from Göschenen to Airolo under the famous Gotthard pass, saw long lines of traffic waiting to enter. At one point Saturday, the queue was 14 kilometres on the north side, while it reached 10-12 kilometres at the south entry.On Sunday, the

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UN group demands reversal of Swiss minaret ban

Switzerland should take steps to ensure that people’s initiatives do not contravene international law, the United Nations Human Rights Committee says. It notably called for the repeal of a Swiss vote banning the construction of minarets.

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Missing glass eye? Contact Swiss railways

A glass eye, wedding dress and fakir costume were among the 127,000 items passengers left behind on Swiss trains last year. Wheelchairs, prostheses and dentures counted among the unusual objects on the list, which was dominated by clothes and mobile phones.

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Swiss students reveal prototype for experimental hyperloop

A pod built by students at Zurich’s Federal Institute of technology (ETHZ) will be competing to be the fastest to navigate the Hyperloop experimental high-speed transportation system in California. The Swiss pod, named Escher after the 19th century Swiss entrepreneur Alfred Escher, was unveiled at ETHZ at a ceremony on Thursday.

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Swiss franc weakens to symbolic low

The Swiss franc has fallen to its lowest point since the January 2015 unpegging of the currency from the euro. The symbolic moment will be a huge relief to Swiss exporters and the tourism industry. As of Thursday morning, the franc was trading at 1.12 to the euro, a drop of 1.8 percent since Monday. It is the weakest level reached since the decision by the Swiss National Bank (SNB) to remove the cap two-and-a-half years ago.

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Strong franc forces Swiss paper mill to close

The closure of a paper factory in canton Bern will leave only one such plant supplying the newspaper and magazine industry in Switzerland from next year. The 125-year-old Utzenstorf factory will close its doors at the end of 2017, management announced on Tuesday.

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Zurich airport reports record passenger numbers

Switzerland’s main airport of Zurich is going from strength to strength, setting a new daily record. On Sunday about 107,000 passengers travelled through the airport in just one day, a spokeswoman said. The figure compares with the average daily figure of 30,000 passengers. Travellers flying to a destination in the United States have been asked to arrive at the airport at least three hours before departure, as separate security checks for electronic devices have been introduced.

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Stories making the Sunday papers

Employee work hours, more storm damage in Switzerland and electricity companies’ fears of cyber attacks are among the main headlines in the Sunday papers. Not all younger employees in Switzerland prefer the freedom of more flexible work hours as companies try to adapt quickly to an increasingly digital world, reports the Swiss newspaper SonntagsZeitung.

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Adult habits in line with global average

In Switzerland, 21% of the adult population on average are daily smokers, according to a report from the World Health Organisation. That is firmly in line with average rates of current smoking among adults globally, which have declined to 21% in 2015 down from 24% in 2007.

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Italy demands data on billions in suspect Swiss accounts

Italian financial crime investigators have asked the Swiss authorities for help in tracking down the beneficial owners of €6.7 billion (CHF7.4 billion) held in Switzerland. The information came to light during an investigation by the Milan authorities into the activities of Credit Suisse.

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Official: Internal review clears Swiss arms shipments

The head of a Swiss federal office says its handling of export permits for arms manufacturers is improving in the wake of a criminal probe into past shipments. An internal review cleared a federal employee of wrongdoing after prosecutors questioned the handling of a Bernese arms manufacturer’s requests to ship weapons to Kazakhstan in 2008 and to New Zealand in 2009, said Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, or SECO.

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Pharma remains king of Swiss exports

Swiss watch

Pharmaceutical and chemical goods pushed Swiss exports to record highs in the first half of this year. The value of goods sold abroad peaked at CHF109.6 billion ($105 billion) in the first six months of 2017 – a 4.4% rise on the previous year. Swiss exports were further boosted by resurgence in demand from China that saw a 20% increase in value of goods sold.

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Swiss banker admits to helping Americans cheat taxes

Credit Suisse

A former Credit Suisse banker pleaded guilty on Wednesday to charges of aiding Americans in hiding millions of dollars from US tax authorities. Susanne Rüegg-Meier, who worked in the Zurich office of Credit Suisse between 2002 and 2011, entered the guilty plea while on trial in a federal court in Alexandria, Virginia, for conspiring to defraud the United States, said the US Justice Department in a statement.external link.

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Swiss-US meeting focuses on vocational education and jobs

Schneider-Ammann

Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann on Tuesday expressed satisfaction with his two days of meetings with senior Trump administration officials, capping efforts to boost cooperation between Switzerland and the United States on education, jobs and trade. He also invited Ivanka Trump, the daughter and adviser to US President Donald Trump, and other Trump administration officials to visit Switzerland so that they can “explore ways of strengthening collaboration,” Schneider-Ammann’s ministry said in a statement on Tuesday night.

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Court sentence in multimillion fraud scheme

Swiss authorities

A massive money laundering case unfolded on Tuesday in a Swiss cantonal court where an Englishman, his wife and a financial adviser were found guilty in an elaborate multimillion-franc scheme. The district courtexternal link in the canton of Vaud sentenced the unidentified Englishman to a year in prison on charges of laundering nearly CHF7 million ($7.34 million), the Swiss News Agency reported.

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Switzerland Hosts Meeting on Tax Transparency

Alexander Karrer

An international meeting on transparency and exchange of tax data is underway in the Swiss city of Geneva. The five-day gathering of the Global Forum peer review group is to examine the implementation of so-called group requests and the issue of the identification of beneficial owners, according to the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters.

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Where there’s smoke, there’s political fire

A poster in a Swiss shop window advertises the sale of legal cannabis. The rising popularity of marijuana that doesn’t make you high – a product known as “cannabis light” or “CBD cannabis” – is causing a headache for Swiss politicians. It is sold in many Swiss shops and generates millions of Swiss francs in sales.

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UBS worried about departing baby-boomers

office cantonal de lemploi

Switzerland is facing a medium-term future of labour market shortages and ratcheting pension costs, according to the latest economic outlook report by UBS bank. The quarterly appraisal,external link launched Thursday in Zurich, highlighted a paradox in the current shape of the Swiss labour market.

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Swiss abroad react angrily to pension cut comments

The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) has reacted angrily to the recent remarks of a politician that questioned the role of expat pensioners. An apology: this is what the OSAexternal link have demanded of Petra Gössi, the Radical Party politician whose “unacceptable” remarks about the pensions of Swiss abroad provoked a flurry of reaction last month.

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Swiss private bank accepts bitcoin

Falcon has teamed up with cryptocurrency brokerage Bitcoin Suisse to offer the service. With the value of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies soaring in recent months, the bank said it was responding to demand from clients. It has also installed a bitcoin ATM at its Zurich HQ.

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Novartis sued by bird flu guinea pig

Scientist feared

When the H5N1 virus broke outexternal link among birds in Europe in 2005, scientists feared it could be transmitted from human to human and cause a pandemic. The pharmaceutical industry across Europe rushed to develop a vaccine.

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Swiss to help Indian tax-dodging investigation

Herve Falciani fled Switzerland

The decision was reached on Thursday by the Federal Administrative Court in St Gallen, which rejected an appeal by two Indian citizens and two companies that are subject to requests by the Indian taxman following up on data included in the Falciani files.

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Swiss economic mission starts with Russia

Schneider-Ammann, traveling with a large business delegation, was wrapping up a two-day visit to Russia on Tuesday. Switzerland, as a non-EU member, did not impose sanctions against Russia, but it also tried to keep up EU and US relations by blocking attempts to circumvent the sanctions, which include travel bans and asset freezes via Switzerland.

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G20 – what’s in it for Switzerland?

Switzerland’s main trading partner is the European Union, and the single nation that does the most trade with the Swiss is Germany. So, it stands to reason that a G20 summit in Germany is especially important for Switzerland’s competitive economy. What came out of the recent gathering in Hamburg for the Swiss?

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Victorinox named an official pocketknife supplier to US army

The US Defense Logistics Agencyexternal link (DLA), the Department of Defense’s largest logistics combat support agency, had indeed added the Victorinox knife to its list, a DLA spokesperson told the Swiss News Agency on Monday, confirming a report in the Luzerner Zeitungexternal link newspaper.

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Swiss papers: Riot images overshadow talks

he G20 summit in Hamburg resulted in a mixed bag for the host, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and an agenda overshadowed by the images of violent protesters, Swiss news media reported. A report in the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung, or NZZexternal link, described an outcome in which Merkel could only “partially delight”. She set climate change and trade as top priorities, but the

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Swiss block sale over concern about Pakistani nuclear programme

Swiss government officials say they denied an export permit to a domestic manufacturer because of indications that its products would have supported the production of Pakistani nuclear weapons. The decision by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECOexternal link) prevented the undisclosed Swiss company from being able to sell its valves abroad for use in ventilation systems.

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G20 demos draw Swiss involvement

Swiss news media reported on Sunday that at least one Swiss was among those arrested at violent protests during the Group of 20 summit in Hamburg, Germany.
Swiss newspaper SonntagsBlick said the train bringing Swiss protesters back home to Switzerland was stopped and searched at the border, and that the head of police in Bern suggested there might have been fewer police injured in Hamburg if they used rubber bullets like police do in the Swiss capital.

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Ethical Coffee Company to bow out of capsule business

The timing may seem strange: over the past year, the Ethical Coffee Company (ECC), which has long been embroiled in patent-related battles with capsule giant Nespresso, has seen several verdicts go in its favour. But ECC founder and CEO Jean-Paul Gaillard revealed to Le Temps on Thursday that the company will be retiring from the capsule market over the next six months.

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Swiss at table in G20 finance talks

The financial aspect to the talks, one of two main “tracks” for discussions at the two-day summit, will focus on coordinated steps to stabilise the global economy, structural measures to promote growth and reform proposals for the international financial system, according to the Swiss State Secretariat for International Financial Matters, or SIF.

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VW to recall thousands of cars in Switzerland

The Swiss newspaper Blick, which broke the story on Wednesday, said that the issue mainly concerned the VW Golf, Jetta, Audi A3 and Skoda Octavia models that went on the road between 2008 and 2009. The company was set to start contacting owners from July 17.

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Addax settles Nigeria corruption claims

Geneva-based oil and gas extractor Addax Petroleum has paid CHF31 million ($32 million) to settle a criminal investigation into allegations of corrupt payments in Nigeria. Geneva’s cantonal prosecutor has in return dropped the probe.

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Swiss banks asked to give Swiss expats fair deal

ATM

New moves are underway in parliament to ensure that Swiss expatriates are granted unrestricted access to services of Swiss banks. The Organisation of the Swiss Abroad (OSA) says two motions were filed, asking the government to reform regulations, providing services, including credit cards of the state-owned Post Finance, to expats with the same conditions as Swiss residents.

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Artisan gelaterias shake up ‘mediocre’ ice-cream market

Ice-cream consumption in Switzerland hasn’t change since the 1990s and is far behind that in neighbouring countries. But small local gelaterias are challenging the dominance of industrial manufacturers. The 5.4 litres of ice cream that the average Swiss spoons down every year is put in the shade by the eight litres in Germany and Italy and 12 litres in sweltering Sweden and Finland. While these figures from Glacesuisse, the association of Swiss ice-cream producers, include sales from industrial producers such as Unilever and Emmi, sales from the growing number of artisan gelaterias are ignored.

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Chocolate industry makes pact to improve conditions

Switzerland’s chocolate producers have launched the Swiss Platform for Sustainable Cocoa, a joint project to bring about a more sustainable industry and better conditions for cocoa producers.Members of the new sustainable cocoa platform have set and pledged to work towards ten strategic objectives. The key target is one stipulating that by 2025, at least 80% of imported cocoa products should come from sustainable production.The project was announced by industry group Chocosuisse, the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and various NGOs including Swisscontact and Helvetias.Their goal, the group said in a statementexternal link, is to “promote sustainability in the cocoa business”. Long considered a pioneer in innovative approaches to chocolate production, Swiss industry says

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Swiss companies’ computers held for ransom in global hack attack

Swiss advertising conglomerate Admeira and six other Swiss companies are among those who fell victim to the latest global cyberattack demanding payment in Bitcoin in exchange for the return of hacked files and computer systems. According to Admeira Head of Communications Romi Hofer, the first sign that something was wrong was when “screens went blank” at the company on Tuesday afternoon.

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Swiss cities ranked among world’s most expensive

Zurich, Geneva, and Bern are among the top ten most expensive cities in the world for expatriates, according to a survey by consulting company Mercer. Only three European cities remain in the top ten list, all of them in Switzerland. Zurich was ranked fourth, Geneva seventh, and the Swiss capital tenth in the surveyexternal link, published on Wednesday.

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Traffic noise increases risks of heart illnesses and diabetes

Traffic noise from cars, lorries, trains and planes can have negative health consequences, such as increased risk of heart-related illnesses and diabetes, according to a long-term study of the impact of noise pollution on the Swiss population. Researchers taking part in the SiRENE study, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF), found that road noise had the greatest impact on cardio-vascular illnesses.

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Novartis chief cools on US after visa crackdown

Novartis has rejected overtures from United States President Donald Trump to increase jobs in the US, citing work visa restrictions as a reason. In a newspaper interview, chief executive Joe Jimenez said Switzerland and Europe were more attractive for the pharmaceutical firm.

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Swiss rail experiments with first-class upgrades

Should second-class travellers be upgraded to first for less than cost-price?(KEYSTONE/Urs Flueeler)

A trial project on Swiss trains has allowed passengers to enjoy cheap upgrades while relieving congestion in crowded carriages. Debates about fairness have already begun. class=’lead-text’>First-class tickets on Swiss trains often cost about twice as much as their second-class equivalents. For example, while a full-price, first-class, Swiss Federal Railways ticket from Bern to Zurich costs CHF90 ($92), a second-class ticket is CHF51.However, the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper has reported that, since March, train crews have been given authority to occasionally offer passengers an upgrade to first class for as little as CHF5, which could

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New Actelion CEO feels adrenaline rush

The American pharmaceutical multinational, which operates more than 250 companies and paid $30 billion to take over the relatively small Actelion, put Jane Griffiths of Britain in charge of running its newest Swiss acquisition.

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Concern over pesticides in drinking supplies

Higher-than-normal levels of pesticides have been found in 20% of the nation’s drinking water supplies from groundwater, prompting industry calls for tougher action to cut the costs of treating the water.class=’lead-text’>A fifth of the samples seen in national monitoring data contained pesticide levels higher than the acceptable limit of 0.1 microgram (0.001 milligram) per liter. Some measurement points even exceeded 70%, Swiss newspaper NZZ am Sonntag reported on Sunday.“There is a need for action,” said Martin Sager, director of the Swiss Gas and Water Industry Association.

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UberPop drivers in Zurich operating outside the law

UberPop drivers who do not hold an official professional taxi licence are operating illegally, according to the government in Zurich. They need to get a permit or risk facing punishment. Even if they readily meet the conditions set by Uber – having a four-door car, being at least 21 years old – not having a taxi licence means they are operating outside Swiss law, said the Zurich executive, responding to a parliamentary question.

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Parking clampdown in Zurich yields windfall

Traffic police issued 21% more parking tickets in Zurich last year as the city dropped its ten-minute grace period for tardy motorists. The policy change was largely responsible for a CHF3.3 million ($3.4 million) penalty bonus that seems to have taken the authorities by surprise.

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Swiss remain top of world innovation ranking

Switzerland is the leading nation for innovation for the seventh year in a row, according to the Geneva-based World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). The other countries in the top five for 2017 were Sweden, the Netherlands, the United States and Britain, the WIPO Global Innovation Indexexternal link said on Thursday. Switzerland has held the top spot since 2011.

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Swiss holiday homes becoming cheaper to buy

The cost of owning a holiday home in the Swiss Alps has declined appreciably in many towns and villages in the last five years. The biggest falls in property prices have been observed in the last 12 months, according to UBS bank researchers. Prices have dipped anywhere from 3% to 9 % year-on-year in some of the best-known Swiss tourist destinations, such as St Moritz and Verbier.

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Bombardier to downsize Swiss operations

Canadian plane-maker Bombardier will cut about 650 jobs in Switzerland by the end of 2018, the largest Swiss trade union said on Thursday. The job cuts, which include almost 500 temporary postings, will come from Bombardier facilities in Villeneuve and Zurich, Unia announcedexternal link on its website. That would remove well more than half of the company’s employees in Switzerland.

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Renewed debate over banking laws for expats

New efforts are underway in parliament to ensure that the Swiss abroad can keep banking and other aspects of a financial life in Switzerland. Since the 2008 global financial crisis, an increasing number of Swiss citizens in other countries have been experiencing trouble keeping a bank account in Switzerland, especially if they reside in the United States.

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Biking still faces uphill battle in Switzerland

As the bicycle celebrates its 200th year, advocacy group Pro Velo Switzerland says there is still a lot of unfulfilled potential when it comes to Switzerland’s use of the two-wheeled mode of transport.On June 12, 1817, a German aristocrat named Karl Drais rode 14 kilometres (8.7 miles) on pedal-less wooden beam with two wheels of his own invention.

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Switzerland signs up to corporate tax dodging remedy

Switzerland has officially agreed to a raft of measures to combat the tax avoidance tricks of multinational companies. More than 100 countries have pledged to tackle the so-called base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) shenanigans. Huge companies, such as Starbucks, Amazon and Fiat, have been publically taken to task by the European Union and the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) over the way they distort their tax bills.

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Few tenants take advantage of rent controls

Anyone who rents a home in Switzerland (more than 60% of households) could qualify for a rent reduction after the Federal Housing Office reduced the reference rate on June 1. However, not everyone bothers to ask, and not all those who do get a positive response from landlords.

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Giant carbon-sucking commercial plant launches in Zurich

The world’s first commercial plant to extract carbon dioxide at industrial scale from the air and sell it directly to a buyer opened near Zurich on Wednesday. The machine pipes the gas to a nearby greenhouse to help grow vegetables. The Swiss firm Climeworks external linkturned on the so-called ‘Direct Air Capture (DAC)’ plant in the farming village of Hinwil, Switzerland. The plant aims to supply 900 tonnes of CO2 annually to a nearby greenhouse to help grow vegetables such as tomatoes and cucumbers.

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Sweeteners proposed for revised corporate tax reform

The government will consider a package of voter-friendly sweeteners, including extra child benefits, as it strives to breathe new life into controversial company tax reforms. The new proposals come less than four months after Swiss voters rejected a major overhaul of the corporation tax landscape.

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Switzerland remains competitive despite issues

The strong franc and corporate tax uncertainty have failed to dislodge Switzerland from second place in an annual ranking of the world’s most competitive economies. The alpine state was also judged by the Lausanne-based IMD business school to have the world’s eighth best digital capability. For the second year in a row, Switzerland was only outclassed by Hong Kong in the 2017 IMD World Competitiveness Yearbookexternal link, released on Wednesday.

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Record research spending defies currency woes

Swiss companies invested record volumes in research and development (R&D) in 2015, despite the franc exploding in value at the start of that year. The private sector was responsible for most of the CHF22 billion ($22.6 billion) R&D spending in 2015, according to official figures released on Monday. This was an increase of 10.5% from the last time such spending was measured by the Federal Statistical Officeexternal link in 2012.

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Strong franc scares off investment in Switzerland

The strong franc continues to scare off foreign investors to Switzerland, while at the same time driving Swiss manufacturing abroad. These are the findings of the latest annual Ernst & Young foreign direct investment (FDI) survey released on Friday.

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Swiss mobile providers perform well

Speed, availability, network responsiveness: on all counts, the mobile experience in Switzerland is “an excellent one”, according to a new report. But improvements could still be made to advance on the leader board. This is the verdict published Wednesday May 24 by OpenSignal, a London-based private held company that issues industry reports based on crowdsourced data from worldwide users of its OpenSignal app.

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Swiss working conditions slip

The Swiss spend three hours more per week on average at the office than other Europeans, but working conditions are still good. While the overall health and well-being of Swiss employees is still good, a new survey shows that Switzerland has lost its place ahead of 34 other European countries when it comes to stress and autonomy in the workplace.

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New LafargeHolcim CEO given market approval

The markets have welcomed LafargeHolcim’s choice of chief executive to guide the company out of a reputational hole. Jan Jenisch, who will take over in October, has experienced difficult situations having spent the last two and a half years driving up Sika’s results against the backdrop of a shareholder civil war.

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Swiss rated third in health services quality survey

Switzerland has been rated third in a global ranking of the access to and the quality of healthcare systems – a report that shows large gaps between the best and worst ranked countries.​​​​​​​ The survey, published online on Thursday in the medical journal The Lancetexternal link, looked at healthcare quality in 195 countries.

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Bern train station to expand to meet growing rail traffic

Bern railway station, Switzerland’s second busiest after Zurich, is set to expand with the creation of a new underground rail station serving regional trains between Bern and Solothurn. A pedestrian access area is also planned.Some 202,000 passengers pass through Bern’s main train station – the second largest in Switzerland – every working day of the week.

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Novartis to shed 500 jobs in Basel

The Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis has announced that it plans to cut 500 jobs at its Basel headquarters in Switzerland over the next 18 months. It says it will also create 350 new posts, mostly in its biotech business. Novartis said in a statement on Thursday that it planned to cut up to 500 jobs in the Basel area or to relocate workers to other sites over the next 18 months.

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Swiss agriculture under fire at WTO

The European Union and the United States have criticised Switzerland for the over-protection of its agricultural sector. Responding to the questions raised at the Geneva-based World Trade Organization (WTO), Switzerland said it would make an effort to ease protections, on condition that other member states do likewise.

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Political Lobbying on the Rise in Switzerland

Links between parliamentarians in Bern and lobby groups have grown steadily in recent years, according to a study by the Universities of Lausanne and Geneva. Between 2007 and 2015, these sorts of ties between interest groups and politicians increased by 20%.

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Three Swiss Farms Close a Day

The trend for fewer but larger farms continued in Switzerland last year, with the total number dropping by 990 to 52,263. While small and conventionally farmed businesses were throwing in the towel, organic agriculture flourished.

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Syngenta deal will ‘drive modernisation’ of Chinese farming

Syngenta, the Swiss agribusiness group which is being acquired by ChemChina in the biggest foreign takeover by a Chinese company, will help Beijing modernise China’s farm sector while simultaneously remaining firmly a “western company”, its chairman has said. Michel Demaré told The Financial Times that, under its new owners, Syngenta would become “a partner of the Chinese government to basically drive the modernisation of Chinese agriculture – so we get the whole growth story”.

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Cabinet sees no need to regulate social media

Remain vigilant, continue to monitor, but no need for concerted federal action. This was the conclusion of a cabinet report Wednesday on social media and the problems it can provoke, including “fake news” and distorting public opinion. The cabinet decided that, for now, more regulation is not the solution.

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Swiss export products banned as toxic at home

In the wake of a Chinese takeover of the Swiss agribusiness group Syngenta, a Swiss advocacy group raises concerns about Switzerland’s regulatory role. Switzerland exports two powerful herbicides, atrazine and paraquat, to developing countries. However, these products, manufactured by Basel giant Syngenta, are prohibited in the Swiss territory.

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Swiss awarded stolen tax CD payment

Switzerland will receive most of the money paid by the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW) to a man who provided the state with stolen Credit Suisse client data, it has been confirmed.

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Swiss engineers wanted – nerds need not apply

tunnel

Too many students turn their backs on engineering thinking it is a career for “nerds”, according to a leading Swiss business lobbyist. Changing this perception is key to plugging an expected shortfall of 50,000 engineering professionals in Switzerland.

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Swiss-German ‘spy’ drama raises hackles – and questions

The sale of stolen Swiss banking data has centered on the German state of North Rhine Westphalia(Keystone)

The arrest of a suspected Swiss spy in Germany has raised questions about what roles the Swiss secret service, the state public prosecutor and UBS bank played in the affair. The 54-year-old man, known as Daniel M, is accused of spying on the German tax authorities to find out who sold stolen Swiss banking data.His arrest more than a week ago has prompted a diplomatic spat between the two countries, a deluge of condemnation from the German side and red faces in Switzerland. A Swiss parliamentary commission is investigating the affair – and the media has also been trying hard to put together the scraps of evidence that have so

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How companies in Switzerland become best places to work

A new ranking shows the best firms to work for in Switzerland – with Google topping the large companies for a third time in a row. Important to employees in all categories: a respectful and motivational work culture. In all, 29 companies were awarded Best Workplaces in Switzerland in the Great Place to Work® Award Ceremony in Zurich on Thursday evening.

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Swiss happy with chemical controls in Geneva

Despite a lack of progress to limit products such as asbestos and the herbicide paraquat, Switzerland is largely pleased with the results of a summit on chemicals and hazardous waste held in Geneva. “We obtained much more than we expected,” Franz Perrez, the head of international affairs at the Federal Environment Office, told the Swiss News Agency on Friday.

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Police say no terror links to Zurich mosque gunman

Around 80 people were gathered at the Islamic centre on Monday evening (Keystone)

Police say the man responsible for the shooting incident at the Zurich Islamic Centre on Monday evening was a 24-year-old Swiss with Ghanaian roots. They said there appears to be no link to radical groups. The man’s motive for the mosque shooting and a separate murder on Sunday remains unclear.

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