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 to double aid to Ukraine

Switzerland will double its aid to Ukraine to CHF100 million ($104 million) by the end of 2023, Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis announced at the Ukraine Recovery Conference in the Swiss city of Lugano.

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Inflation ‘back with a vengeance’ in Switzerland

The price of household goods for Swiss consumers rose 3.4% in June compared to the same month last year, led by the surging cost of fuel and heating oil. “Inflation, which has de facto been absent for more than a decade, is back with a vengeance,” said economic forecast group BAK Economics.

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Large Hadron Collider primed to hit record energy levels

Ten years after it discovered the Higgs boson, the world’s biggest particle accelerator is poised to smash together protons at record energy levels at the CERN particle physics laboratory near Geneva, as scientists resume their search for clues to the origins of the universe.

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Cartel fined for fixing price of Volkswagens

A group of Volkswagen dealers in southern Switzerland has been fined CHF44 million ($46 million) by the Federal Competition Commission (Comco). The seven cartel members, including car importer AMAG, had fixed the prices of new Volkswagen cars for years.

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Novartis to cut 1,400 jobs in Switzerland

Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis is laying off more than one in ten employees in Switzerland over the next three years – 1,400 of 11,600 jobs will go. It also plans to cut 8,000 of 108,000 jobs worldwide.

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Alpine rail tunnel and suburban train services to get boost

The government has presented plans for an upgrade of the country’s railway network, including an additional Alpine tunnel in western Switzerland. About CHF720 million ($745 million) have been set aside to upgrade the Lötschberg base tunnel and other regional projects near Zürich and Geneva in the next decade.

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Switzerland to ease exchange of Ukrainian currency in line with EU

Refugees with a special legal status will be able to exchange a limited amount of Ukranian banknotes for Swiss francs. The Swiss government on Wednesday announced that adults with a protection S status may exchange one amount of up to 10,000 hryvnia – the equivalent of CHF300 ($310.50) at selected branches of the two main Swiss banks, UBS and Credit Suisse.

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Ukraine war forces Swiss business to make choices on neutrality

Sanctions imposed on Russia have focused debate over the country’s long-cherished economic haven status. In the gleaming new Chipperfield extension of the Zurich Kunsthaus, all polished limestone and gold, is a room dedicated to expiating the moral debits of economic neutrality. The Bührle collection is one of the greatest privately-amassed troves of modern European art, and the pride of the new building.

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Switzerland wants to play key role in rebuilding Ukraine

The Swiss are hosting a major international conference on reconstruction in Ukraine at the beginning of July. The agenda and a participants’ list are currently taking shape.  However, it’s unclear how much international enthusiasm this event – and its aims – will garner in the end.

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Oerlikon to sell Russia business to local owners

Swiss industrial firm Oerlikon has announced that it will hand over ownership of its business in Russia to local management. In a brief statement released on Thursday, the Oerlikon Group said it had entered into an agreement with the local management team to sell all its operations in Russia. “The business will continue to operate independently under the new owners,” said the company.

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The world is at a turning point, but it was business-as-usual in Davos

It’s easier to make lofty pledges about saving the world when the world isn’t battling multiple crises. The World Economic Forum’s programme last week included the word “crisis” 42 times. Throughout the four-day event, “crisis” was uttered on panels on climate change, in interviews on the war in Ukraine, and in conversations on food shortages held around lavish buffet tables.

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Swiss set aside CHF100 million in Ukraine development funding

The Ukrainian funds available to the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC) for 2022 will not affect projects elsewhere, an official said on Thursday. Before the Russian invasion in February, the SDC had earmarked CHF25 million ($26 million) for development and cooperation projects in Ukraine; parliament has since boosted this by CHF61 million, SDC director Patricia Danzi said on Thursday.

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Swiss block re-export of armoured vehicles to Ukraine

The Swiss authorities have vetoed Denmark’s request to send Swiss-made armoured personnel carriers to Ukraine. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) recently rejected Denmark’s bid to provide about  20 Piranha III infantry fighting vehicles to Ukraine, Swiss public television, SRF, said on Wednesday.

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Economic divide: how equal is Switzerland’s wealth distribution?

While the gap between rich and poor has been steadily widening in many countries, the situation in Switzerland has remained stable over the past decades, according to recent statistics. Yet while income distribution in the Alpine nation is relatively egalitarian, wealth is more concentrated in the hands of the rich.

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How ‘Davos Man’ hijacked capitalism

The global elite are gathering in the Alps this week for the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting. Journalist Peter Goodman, author of Davos Man, argues that these billionaires are a “separate species” who have become so powerful that they’re writing the rules for the rest of us.

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Swiss banks rigorously implementing international sanctions on Russia

Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine is unacceptable, and wide-ranging international sanctions have rightly been imposed in response to it. The Swiss banks support these without reservation, and are implementing not only the sanctions ordered by the Swiss Federal Council, but also those of international and supranational authorities and bodies.

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Swiss government presents plans to boost gas reserves

The Swiss government has outlined its plans to boost gas storage capacity in neighbouring countries to secure supplies ahead of winter. Gas makes up roughly 15% of Switzerland’s final energy consumption and is mostly used for heating and cooking. Around half of this comes from Russia.

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Swiss remain divided over 5G rollout

Swiss opinion over the expansion of the 5G telecommunications network is still split down the middle, according to the latest survey on the subject. The Swiss government is convinced that the new technology poses minimal health risks and is committed to the rapid erection of 7,500 5G antennae.  

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Historians trace Elon Musk’s Swiss roots to Emmental

Tesla CEO Elon Musk has roots in a small, picturesque farming region in central Switzerland. Using genealogy websites and local archives, historians have been able to connect Musk with the Haldimann name, which is still present in the Emmental region today.

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The riddle of Russian money in Switzerland

There’s a well-worn Swiss bankers joke about the venality of a particular country. The actual country changes with the times but since this is April 2022, it starts like this: “Where is the capital of Russia?”

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Swiss technology foils Russian censorship

The Swiss software Kiwix enables the user to copy entire websites so they can be accessible offline. Now that Wikipedia risks sanction in Russia because of its content on the Ukraine war, downloads of the free online encyclopaedia using Kiwix are off the charts. 

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Swiss to decide individually on Russian commodity deals

Switzerland will decide case by case whether to curtail traders’ purchases from Russia’s state-controlled companies under European Union sanctions. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) which is in charge sanctions confirmed the Swiss policy to follow in principle the EU measures, which aim to limit commodity deals to those deemed “strictly necessary” from mid-May.

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Crypto Nation Switzerland tackles workforce shortages

The rapidly expanding Swiss blockchain industry is facing growing pains: a limited supply of qualified workers to fill the expanding number of job vacancies. Universities are stepping up to meet the challenge by designing new courses around blockchain and decentralised finance.

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Swiss consumed 4.3 percent more electricity in 2021

The Alpine nation consumed 2.4 million kilowatt hours (kWh) more electricity in 2021, equivalent to the annual consumption of 479,800 households. “In addition to the pandemic-related ‘compensatory effects’ in the second quarter, general economic development, the weather and population development increased consumption in 2021,” said the Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) on Thursday.

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Former top Swiss banker convicted for fraud

A Swiss court has sentenced former Raiffeisen bank chief Pierin Vincenz to almost four years in prison for fraud, forgery of documents and criminal mismanagement. Judges on Wednesday handed down a jail sentence of 43 months as well as a suspended fine of CHF840,000 ($899,858). Vincenz was also ordered to refund CHF236,000.

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Ukrainian refugees can benefit Swiss economy, says expert

Switzerland can cope with a large number of Ukrainian refugees, and their skills can benefit the economy, says migration expert Thomas Kessler. “The Ukrainian women will provide new impetus in this country,” he told the SonntagsBlick newspaper. “Especially in the IT sector, the Ukrainians are more advanced than Switzerland. In addition, it is normal in Ukraine for women to study natural sciences.”

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Switzerland backs European plans for joint gas storage

Switzerland has signed a declaration along with six other European states in favour of pooling gas storage facilities.

Switzerland, Germany, Austria, Belgium, France, Luxembourg and the Netherlands signed the declarationExternal link on Wednesday, pledging to work towards coordinating storage efforts on a regional level.

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Ukraine urges Switzerland to clamp down on Russian money

An advisor to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky says the Swiss should be more proactive in looking for Russian funds. But according to a legal expert, current regulations do not allow authorities or banks to do more active searches beyond what’s in their current registers.

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Credit Suisse Vice Chair Schwan steps down from board

Credit Suisse announced on Monday that Vice-Chair Severin Schwan would not stand for re-election. This follows a reported rebellion by large shareholder groups at the Swiss bank. “Severin Schwan, who joined the Board in 2014 and has acted as Vice-Chair and Lead Independent Director since 2017, has decided not to stand for re-election,” Credit Suisse said in a statementExternal link on Monday.

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‘Next winter will be difficult in Europe without Russian gas’

The United States wants to cut its dependence on Russian fuels. But Switzerland and Europe cannot completely do without Russian gas, says René Bautz, the CEO of Gaznat, which supplies high-pressure gas to western Switzerland, and president of the Global Gas Centre platform for the natural gas sector.

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Swiss companies’ balancing act with Russia

Big consumer brands are leaving Russia in droves but for many Swiss companies untangling ties isn’t that easy.  Jessica covers the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to big global companies and their impact in Switzerland and abroad. She’s always looking for a Swiss connection with her native San Francisco and will happily discuss why her hometown has produced some of the greatest innovations but can’t seem to solve its housing crisis.

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Switzerland listed as ‘unfriendly’ country by Russia

Russia has drawn up a list of around 50 countries, including Switzerland, that have committed “unfriendly actions” against Russia, its companies and citizens, in the wake of severe economic sanctions over the war in Ukraine, the Russian state media agency TASS reports.

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Why Switzerland doesn’t want to join the European Union

Switzerland and the European Union have a complicated relationship. The recent decision by the Alpine nation to definitively shut the door on a framework agreement with the EU reaffirms its attachment to its independence. It shows that 30 years after refusing to join the EU, Switzerland’s stance has only been reinforced. We look at some of the main reasons why.

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Switzerland builds business case for non-fungible tokens

NFTs have hit the headlines with spectacular sakes of digital artworks, such as the wildly popular CryptoPunks. Keystone / Obs/4artechnologies

The latest blockchain phenomenon, the non-fungible token (NFT), has generated vast profits for artists and a raft of fraudulent scams. Several Swiss NFT projects have set out to prove that the technology can have a lasting impact beyond the spectacular headlines.
This content was published on March 5, 2022 – 09:00
March 5, 2022 – 09:00

Matthew Allen

When not covering fintech, cryptocurrencies, blockchain, banks and trade, swissinfo.ch’s business correspondent can be found playing cricket on various grounds in Switzerland – including the frozen lake of St Moritz. 
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| English Department

swissinfo.ch

Luxury watch

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Switzerland simplifies process of employing foreign workers

Companies will no longer have to prove there are no Swiss job candidates in some sectors. Moves to cut red tape for non-EU foreign workers in Switzerland will not necessarily lead to more work visas being issued.
On Friday, the government announced measuresExternal link to make it easier to hire skilled workers from such countries as India, Britain, China and the United States.By making it simpler to award B and L work permits, Switzerland hopes that the “innovative power of the economy can be strengthened.”Companies are usually obliged to prove that there are no Swiss people who could fill a position before it is offered to a candidate

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Switzerland triggers wide range of sanctions against Russia

More than a million Ukrainians have fled their country since the Russian invasion.
Switzerland said it is activating sanctions against Russia on Friday, including a ban on many industrial exports and wide-ranging restrictions on financial activities, which includes cutting Russian banks from the SWIFT financial messaging system.

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Ukraine: What Swiss sanctions-busters need to consider

Legal expert Mark Pieth is amazed that Switzerland is taking its own problematic approach to international sanctions against Russia. When Russia invaded Ukraine, the US and the EU announced economic sanctions, whereas Switzerland announced that it would first have to analyse the new situation. The obvious question there is what has the Swiss Government been doing for the past few weeks, as tensions have been rising?

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Credit Suisse client data leak sparks political storm

Switzerland is facing calls to clean up its financial sector in the wake of the so-called “Suisse Secrets” controversy, which drew on leaked data from banking giant Credit Suisse. Many see the scandal as evidence of systemic shortcoming in the Swiss banking sector, which has undergone major reforms over recent years in a bid to shake off its image as a financial haven for criminals.

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SWISS suspends flights to Ukraine

Other airlines in the Lufthansa Group also announced plans to halt flights to the country. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Amid further escalations of the crisis in Ukraine, Swiss International Airlines has decided to temporarily suspend flights to Ukraine from next week. This affects flight connections in Kyiv.
This content was published on February 19, 2022 – 17:22
February 19, 2022 – 17:22

Keystone-SDA/jdp

All flights will be cancelled from Monday, February 21 until February 28, 2022, a SWISS spokesperson told the Keystone-SDA news agency on Saturday in response to a request. Flights on Sunday, February 20, would take place as planned to provide booked passengers a travel option between Kyiv and Zurich.“The safety of passengers and crew members is the top priority at all times,”

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The Swiss banker managing Senegal’s first private bank

After working in finance in Geneva for 15 years, Olivier Santi emigrated to Dakar in 2017 to head a new bank founded by one of Senegal’s richest businessmen. His career to date demonstrates both the central role Switzerland plays in the finance and raw materials sectors, and the vitality of West Africa’s banking sector.

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The discreet charm of antiquarian booksellers

Despite the demise of many antiquarian bookshops in Switzerland, the trade is alive and well in the Alpine country. Dealers in Geneva, Basel and Zurich give a glimpse into this exclusive business, where a gentleman’s code still rules.

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Pandemic drives Swiss Post parcel deliveries

The state-owned Swiss Post processed a record number of parcels last year, but the downward letter mail continued. Parcel deliveries increased by 9.6% to 202 million in 2021, according to the state-owned company.“

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Why governments need to tackle the impact of trade on climate change

In 2021, global carbon pollution returned almost to 2019 levels, after a drop during the lockdowns of the pandemic year 2020. Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

The production and trade of goods is at the heart of the globalised market and has a significant environmental impact. Yet there was little discussion at COP26 on how to make it more sustainable, the former director of the World Trade Institute (WTI) tells SWI swissinfo.ch.
This content was published on January 14, 2022 – 09:00
January 14, 2022 – 09:00

Sara Ibrahim

Writes about the impact of new technologies on society: are we aware of the revolution in progress and its consequences? Hobby: free thinking. Habit: asking too many questions.
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| Italian Department

The goods we

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Zurich Airport faces another loss for 2021

The Covid pandemic has hit Zurich Airport, one of the biggest employers in the region, hard. But CEO Stephan Widrig says there are sufficient financial resources to get through the crisis, including the Omicron variant.

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Watchmaking workforce remains stable despite pandemic

The annual census of the Swiss watch industry labour force found that partial unemployment helped the industry weather the pandemic over the last year. The number of employees in the industry remained stable in 2021 while the share of high skilled staff increased.

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Falcon bank fined for money laundering, ex-CEO acquitted

A Swiss court has found the Zurich-based Falcon Private Bank guilty of money-laundering offences. The Federal Criminal CourtExternal link on Wednesday ordered the Abu Dhabi-owned bankExternal link to pay a fine of CHF3.5 million ($3.8 million) for failing to set up the necessary controls. It was the first time that a Swiss bank was taken to court over accusations of money laundering.

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Expo 2020 Dubai: Swiss pavilion focuses on sustainability and innovation

The Swiss pavilion at the ongoing Universal Exposition in Dubai leads the visitor through Alpine landscapes in a show of light and shadows to showcase Swiss sustainability, urbanisation and innovation. It is a concept that seems to appeal to the public, despite the pandemic and the many contradictions that characterise the Gulf region.

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Switzerland outlines 15 Alpine hydro projects for the future

Authorities, environmental groups, and energy providers have named 15 major hydropower projects that could help Switzerland achieve energy security and a green transition over the coming decades. The projects were chosen for their energy efficiency potential as well as their minimal impact on biodiversity and the landscape, the groups wrote in a joint declaration on Monday. It was the third time that the “round-table” had met since August 2020.

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Why Switzerland props up its ailing sugar industry

Every year from October to December more than 1.5 million tonnes of sugar beets grown in Switzerland are harvested to supply the country’s sugar industry – an industry being kept alive by massive government subsidies. SWI swissinfo.ch reports from Aarberg, home to the country’s largest sugar factory.  

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Omicron exposes our pandemic failures

They say a week is a long time in politics – last week we discovered it’s a long time in a pandemic as well. We started the week anxiously watching the rising Covid cases in Europe, and wondering what new restrictions might be heading our way for Christmas.

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How Play Suisse made waves among the streamers

In a little over a year Play Suisse, the streaming service of the Swiss Broadcasting Corporation (SBC), has become a major player in the Swiss digital landscape, surpassing platforms like Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video. Critic Max Borg looks at the strengths and weaknesses of Play Suisse and its rivals.

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Moving up in the world: could you work from home in the Alps?

During the pandemic, some skiers have been doing just that. But does the romantic vision tally with the reality? It was in May, while hiking along the forest trails and waterfalls of La Tièche, with views towards the snow-dusted peaks of the Matterhorn and Mont Blanc, that fitness coach Jessica Z Christensen decided to spend more time in the Swiss mountains.

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Swiss government moots international monetary assistance

The government seeks to renew its policy to support assistance measures by the International Monetary Fund (IMF). It asked parliament to approve plans to continue international monetary cooperation to the tune of CHF10 billion ($10.8 billion) by 2028.The existing legal basis expires in April 2023, according to officials.

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Geneva-Lausanne train link remains suspended

The holes were caused by tunneling work under the tracks carried out by a private company, which was working on a thermal energy project using water from Lake Geneva to heat an industrial zone not far from the train line. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

The main rail link between Geneva and Lausanne in southwestern Switzerland will not re-open until Friday morning, Swiss Federal Railways (SBB/CFF) has confirmed. The line has been suspended since Tuesday after land collapsed near the tracks.
This content was published on November 11, 2021 – 09:57
November 11, 2021 – 09:57

Keystone-SDA/sb

Holes that appeared between tracks at Tolochenaz, near Morges in canton Vaud, on Tuesday still require major work, which is proving more complicated than expected, the Federal Railways said.Two holes

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Cleaning up Switzerland’s toxic legacy

The widespread dioxin pollution uncovered in Lausanne has surprised many and raised concerns about the health consequences, clean-up costs and extent of the problem. The small Alpine nation may be well known for its stunning natural beauty, but thousands of sites contaminated with various other pollutants still need remediation.

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Besançon: French watchmaking capital takes on Swiss neighbours

Just a short hop from the Swiss border, the walled city of Besançon is a showcase of centuries of French watchmaking knowhow. Within its labyrinth of pristine streets are many secret courtyards, where, behind imposing doors, independent watchmakers carry forward its best-known traditions in what is considered France’s capital of watches.

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Swiss energy bills contained, but future crunch looms

Households and businesses across Europe are facing a huge rise in electricity and heating costs this winter. Price hikes in Switzerland have so far been comparatively cushioned, but there are warnings of a potential energy crunch in the next few years.

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Swiss companies told to brace for electricity shortages

The Swiss government has shared its vision for coping with major power outages in a brochure shared with thousands of companies, the weekly NZZ am Sonntag reported on Sunday. In the absence of an electricity agreement with the European Union, such a scenario is likely if large power plants fail in Switzerland or abroad.

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Global capital flows: how poor countries finance the rich

It’s an economist’s conundrum: global capital, instead of flowing from rich countries to poor countries, actually moves in the other direction. Each year hundreds of billions of dollars leave developing countries and land in the coffers of rich countries like Switzerland.

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Using Swiss technology to store CO2 in Iceland

The Swiss company Climeworks has just opened in Iceland the world’s largest plant for the capture and permanent storage of carbon dioxide from the air. This technology is deemed essential for combating global warming, yet it raises some questions.

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Risk of housing bubble in Switzerland persists

A report by the leading Swiss bank UBS has found an increased risk of a real estate bubble forming in Switzerland’s housing market. The UBS Swiss real estate bubble index has risen from 1.78 to 1.90 points, in the second quarter of 2021, remaining in the ‘risk zone’, according to a report published on Tuesday.

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Credit Suisse to face ‘tuna bonds’ trial

The bank will face a trial over its role in Mozambique’s $2 billion (CHF1.8 billion) “tuna bonds” scandal, a fresh blow as it struggles to shake off a succession of crises that have plagued the group in recent years.

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Why some wealth managers hate wealth

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

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Credit Suisse reaches deal with former employee in spying case

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

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Tourism sector will take decades to recover from pandemic

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

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Honey production collapses in Switzerland

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

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Swiss ‘Crypto Nation’ supports African blockchain ambitions

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

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Swiss Start-Ups Show Resilience Despite Covid-19 Pandemic

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

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

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

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Human Rights Sports Body granted Upgraded Swiss Legal Status

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

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Swiss Narrowly Miss CO2 Emission Targets

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

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

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

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Banks Urged to think Green or Face Extinction

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

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German Stock Exchange Snaps up Swiss Cryptocurrency Firm

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

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CEOs Profit as Workers Suffer from Pandemic, says Union

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

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Switzerland’s Battle of the Bees

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

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

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

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Steady increase of cross-border workers continued in 2020

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

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

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

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Covid-19 sent Swiss Energy Consumption Plummeting in 2020

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

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Swiss Cities Demand end to Opaque Cantonal Tax Competition

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

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Swiss economy on way back to normal, says top treasurer

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

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A plea to Swiss banks from the Russian Arctic

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

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Swiss hail ‘cordial’ talks with Biden

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

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SWISS airline job cuts less severe than expected

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

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

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

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Switzerland plans subsidies to offset G7 corporate tax plan

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

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Child Labour rises for first time in two decades 

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

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Electricity watchdog sounds warning on Swiss energy security

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

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Cobalt must be included in Swiss responsible business legislation

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

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Futuristic underground cargo project moves a step closer to reality

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

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How Swiss Asset Managers Opened their Doors to Lex Greensill

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

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Dishonest Partial Unemployment Claims Alarm Swiss Auditors

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

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Swiss prepare for EU chill after quitting market access talks

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

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Public trust in Swiss banks soars amid pandemic 

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

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Eight Swiss in Bloomberg billionaire ‘rich list’ 

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

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Swiss Private Banks at Odds with Clients over ESG

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

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Overtourism could give way to Sustainable Travel

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

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Electric Car maker feels the power of Switzerland

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

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Telecoms company Sunrise to axe 660 jobs

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

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Swiss bank pays up to settle German tax evasion probe

Switzerland’s Migros Bank has agreed to pay €2.4 million (CHF2.65 million) to clear up cross-border tax evasion issues with Germany. Migros is one of several Swiss banks that have shelled out a penalty to avoid prosecution in the neighbouring country. Other banks to have made such an arrangement in the past include UBS, Credit Suisse and Julius Bär.

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WEF set to return to Davos in 2022

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

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

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

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Restaurants to re-open despite high Covid infection rate 

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

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Government approves accord with UK to ease trade for companies 

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

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Government faces growing pressure to relax Covid measures

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

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Study shows benefits of physical and cognitive play in dementia patients

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

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Swiss firms hold out hopes in US infrastructure upgrade

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

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Nestlé attacks food benefits of Brazilian workers during the pandemic

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

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Switzerland and ILO sign agreement on development cooperation

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

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The Swiss textile machinery industry has a China dilemma

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Hack on US security-camera company sparks Swiss police raid

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

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Swiss government expects fast economic recovery in 2021

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

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No more free rides in free trade deals

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

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

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

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Switzerland gears up to place robots in classrooms

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

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Swiss press divided over phased easing of Covid restrictions

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

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The United Nations in Geneva – before and during the pandemic

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

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Swiss spent record amount on food in 2020

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

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Is the grass greener outside the EU?

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

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

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

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Swiss Corporate Merger Activity Dampened by Covid

tmt

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

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Switzerland hit by widespread malware campaign

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

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Swiss continue search for absconded British tourists

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

Keystone-SDA/ts

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

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‘Brexit envy’ grows in Switzerland

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

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

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Economic outlook for Switzerland in 2021

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

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

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

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Swiss want more digital services from the state

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

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Credit Suisse chief vows a ‘clean slate’ in 2021

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

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Covid continues to stress Swiss economy

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

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Swiss National Bank accused of lagging behind in green investment

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

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French blockchain firms offer tracing for Swiss watches

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

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

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

Thomas Stephens

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

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

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Ex-Credit Suisse boss recruited by Rwandan government

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

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Will vaccination campaign convince hesitant Swiss?

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

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‘Artificial intelligence won’t replace humans’

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

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Swiss consumers want repair label on electronic appliances

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

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Roche poised to launch mass Covid testing

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

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Banks making slow progress on diversity issues

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

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Hotel sector sees gloomy outlook

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

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The colonial vision of Swiss multinationals

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

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SWISS plans to introduce rapid pre-boarding Covid tests

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

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WEF Davos conference in doubt for 2021

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

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Toxins found in popular Swiss tourist spot

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

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Swiss Tourism Industry demands new Covid-19 Quarantine Regime

Swiss Tourism Industry

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

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Ceneri Base Tunnel is officially open

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

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Geneva Airport expects 23 percent fewer passengers in 2021

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

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Trading platforms profit from pandemic chaos

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

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Swiss Private Banks Brace for Coronavirus Impact

Swiss Private banks

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

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New Swiss Rail Timetable Speeds up Cross-Border Trips

Swiss Rail

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

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Belgium Investigates Credit Suisse over hidden Bank Accounts

Credit Suisse

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

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Why is Switzerland so expensive?

Why is Switzerland so expensive

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

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

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

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Traditional working model hampers Swiss women’s careers

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

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Swiss International Air Lines’ turnover halved due to coronavirus

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

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Pandemic crashed demand for hotels and trains

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

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Swiss care homes and hospitals charged for mouldy masks

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

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Swiss humanitarian trade deal with Iran faces delay, questions 

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

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Swiss banks eye Hong Kong clients for pro-democracy ties

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

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Embattled Swiss watch industry targets mainland China

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

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Biggest Swiss-based arms manufacturers revealed

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

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Julius Baer to offer private equity to ultra-wealthy clients

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

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Doubts over EU regulations deal raise prospect of higher City costs

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

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Travel destinations seek tourists, but not the crowds

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

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Motorway station supplier goes into liquidation

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

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Swiss sustainable finance: world leader or wishful thinking?

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

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Fewer cows, more cars: Switzerland misses its emission targets

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

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Swiss government extends coronavirus economic support

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

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SWISS slowly expands web of destinations from Zurich and Geneva

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

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Tally Weijl to close quarter of stores

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

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Hands-off regulation of sustainable finance draws mixed response

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

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Swiss gold industry oversight too weak, say auditors

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

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

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

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Job postings fall by 27 percent due to pandemic

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

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A Swiss-Japanese alliance that has thrived in the crisis

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

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

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

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SoftBank invests in Credit Suisse funds financing technology bets

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

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

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

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Swiss forests are healthy but need better management

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

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Expats in Switzerland need even deeper pockets

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

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Swiss develop first see-through mask

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

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Lockdown led to big jump in worker productivity

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

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NGOs urge Swiss banks to ease developing country debt

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

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‘Green’ aviation fuel aims to power planes by 2030

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

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

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

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Swiss industry endured horror April during pandemic peak

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

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Coronavirus fuels Swiss bicycling surge

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

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Airfare refunds remain a sticking point

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

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

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

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

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

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National Bank snubs calls for more coronavirus money

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

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Minister calls for extra funds for Swiss unemployment system

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

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Swiss rank high in energy index

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

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Price watchdog criticises cost of becoming Swiss

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

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SWISS publishes flight timetable for June

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

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

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

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Falcon exits Swiss private banking after 1MDB scandal

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

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Economic cost of pandemic will be enormous: SNB chief

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

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Swiss customs uncover blackmarket animal drugs scam

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

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Swiss tourism industry struggling for survival

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

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Swiss authorities resort to use of spyware for the first time

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

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

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

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Students’ finances affected by coronavirus lockdown 

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

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How Swiss cobalt traders are trying to prevent child labour

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

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Global associations call for more flights to transport mail

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

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

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

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Swiss airlines to get almost CHF2 billion corona aid boost

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

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Swiss oil traders and banks burned by Venezuela ties

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

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‘Corona-compliant’ Alpine cow processions to go ahead

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

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Recognition for our report from the Swiss mountains

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

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Stockpiling – a Swiss civic duty

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

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Former UBS boss Marcel Ospel dies aged 70

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

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Record year for money laundering tip-offs

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

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Swiss running low on butter

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

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Switzerland facing biggest economic slump since 1975

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

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How Swiss drones and robots are changing farming

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

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Is Venezuela’s gold a liability for Switzerland?

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

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Coronavirus called a ‘decisive test’ for the UN system  

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

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Interest groups present demands for coronavirus exit plans

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

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Pandemic takes a heavy toll on consumer confidence 

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

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

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

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Ranking finds Swiss cities less expensive

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

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Cradle of agriculture in the Amazon region much older

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

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New debt relief measures on the horizon for struggling firms

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

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Swiss consortium launches bitcoin on Tezos blockchain

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

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Swiss economy could lose up to CHF35 billion to pandemic

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

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Swiss firm helps reduce shortage of disinfectant in Bavaria

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

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Government urged to do more to help companies

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

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Recession is unavoidable, reckon Swiss finance bosses

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

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Swiss hospitals reportedly running out of money

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

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Swiss watch exports predicted to fall by 25 percent in 2020

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

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Helping people to breathe

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

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Around 20,000 healthcare workers seek partial unemployment benefits

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

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Swiss commodities sector grapples with Covid-19 turbulence

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

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Businesses reach out to people at home

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

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EasyJet Switzerland seeks state aid as virus empties skies

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

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Swiss real estate market suffers fallout from epidemic

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

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Swiss firms rush to claim emergency coronavirus loans

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

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Record exports drive up Swiss chocolate sales

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

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France drops blocks on face mask exports to Switzerland

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

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Coronavirus: Why staying home is merely a recommendation in Switzerland

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

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Companies contemplate bleak coronavirus outlook

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

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Global curbs on medical exports imperil poor nations

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

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Big reductions in Swiss public transport services

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

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Swiss hospitals take French coronavirus patients

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

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‘We will come through this together’

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

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Shortage of hospital beds in Ticino as virus toll rises

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

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Banks lobby regulators to relax post-crisis rules

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

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