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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 companies told to brace for electricity shortages

3 days ago

An electricity agreement between Switzerland and the European Union has been on hold since 2018. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
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.
Swiss companies could be ordered to reduce their electricity consumption by a specific percentage in the event of a shortage, the government warns in the brochure sent to 30,000 firms.
The first measure the government would take to counter such a situation is to urge the population to tone down its electricity consumption. The

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Switzerland ‘not at risk of truck driver shortage’

4 days ago

The United Kingdom and the European Union are grappling with truck diver shortages that complicate economic recovery amid the coronavirus pandemic. Keystone / Joe Giddens
Unlike other Western European nations, Switzerland is not at risk of a supply chain crisis due to a lack of truck drivers, according to the president of a major logistics and transport company.
“The situation in Switzerland is significantly better than in the rest of Europe,” Rolf Galliker, president of Galliker transport AG told the German-language weekly SonntagsBlick in an interview published on Sunday.
“We have done our homework. Switzerland certainly does not have to fear supply shortages,” said the 56-year-old chairman of the company’s board of directors. He notes that many drivers will

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Covid: Swiss private banks ‘got off relatively lightly’

5 days ago

Swiss private banks increased their assets under management to almost CHF3 trillion last year © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
Swiss private banks managed to increase their assets under management to CHF2.9 trillion ($3.15 trillion) last year, an increase of 2.8% on 2019.
“The year 2020 was dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, yet the Swiss private banking sector still got off relatively lightly compared to other industries,” consultancy firm PwC said in its Private Banking Market Update 2021, published on Thursday.
“Thanks to the quick recovery of global markets, Swiss private banks could broadly sustain their assets under management (AuM) base and, as such, worse consequences could be prevented.”
The largest inflows of net new money were recorded by the larger private

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Switzerland could face electricity shortage by March

5 days ago

Under an extreme scenario, Switzerland’s electricity supply could be interrupted for up to 500 hours © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
If progress is not made on an electricity agreement with the European Union, at least at a technical level, Switzerland is likely to face a significant problem guaranteeing electricity in the short and medium term, especially in winter.
This is the conclusion of an external report on supply security, presented to the government on Wednesday. The report examined the consequences of three scenarios: completely renouncing cooperation with the EU, reaching at least technical agreements with neighbouring countries, and doing an electricity deal with the EU.
In the worst-case situation (no cooperation), the situation would become critical by

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Qatar’s Quintet bank closes shop in Switzerland

6 days ago

The bank is situated at Zurich’s prestigious Bahnhofstrasse. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
Quintet Private Bank says it is closing its Swiss arm just 16 months after opening. The Qatari-owned private bank took over Bank am Bellevue last year.
The Luxembourg-based private bank is closing its Swiss business, which employs 87 people, according to a statement on Tuesday. It is unclear whether the closure will happen via a wind-down or sale.
The private bank, which opened in May 2020, was affected by the pandemic and was unable to build its business up as fast as anticipated, the statement said.
“Establishing a path to profitability would take longer than anticipated,” the group’s CEO Jakob Stott said in the statement.
Millions in losses
The 87 staff are currently in a

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Businesses give mixed reaction to Covid certificate

7 days ago

Checking a Covid certificate in a Lausanne café in September Keystone / Laurent Gillieron
While most Swiss hotels and restaurants are critical of the need to show a Covid certificate, overall small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) do not perceive it as a disadvantage.
A survey of 201 SMEs in German-speaking Switzerland found that 58% of managers in the hotel and catering industry described the consequences of the certificate as negative to very negative.
Since September 13, Swiss residents have had to show a Covid certificate (which provides proof of vaccination, recovery or a recent negative test result) to access indoor spaces like restaurants, bars and museums.
However, 39% of all respondents viewed the certificate as positive to very positive and 36% said

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Anticipating future technologies for humanity’s well-being

8 days ago

GESDA’s radar anticipates that in five years advances in artificial intelligence could uncover patterns in brain data that offer new insights into consciousness. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi
A Geneva-based foundation has created a tool mapping out major scientific breakthroughs that could help decision makers and civil society prepare for their impact.
The digital tool offers an overview of 216 future scientific breakthroughs expected over the next 25 years. Nearly 550 scientists worldwide contributed to the project.
The so-called Science Breakthrough RadarExternal link was revealed during the first summit last week of the Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator (GESDA) foundation. According to the information included in the “radar”, powerful quantum computers

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Poll: Most Swiss back 30km/h speed limit in urban areas

9 days ago

In September the city of Lausanne introduced a 30km/h speed limit on 122 streets between 10pm-6am to reduce noise pollution – a Swiss first. Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott
Most Swiss residents would be in favour of a 30 kilometre (18 miles) per hour speed limit in urban areas, a survey has found.
A poll by the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (BPA), published on TuesdayExternal link, found that 52% of respondents support a 30km/h speed limit on city streets. An exception would be made for main thoroughfares, which would keep the current speed limit of 50km/h.
The proposal was well supported by elderly people (59% in favour) and women (54%), the poll found. The idea was particularly well received in Italian-speaking regions, where two-thirds of respondents

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Global capital flows: how poor countries finance the rich

10 days ago

Switzerland’s economic conditions make it attractive for financial flows from developing countries © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
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.
An “unprecedented” $160 billion (CHF149 billion) – about the same amount as the gross domestic product (GDP) of Hungary – was allocated last year by developed countries to Official Development AssistanceExternal link (ODA), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) said in AprilExternal link.
With an average $120 billion spent each year, ODA spending

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‘Fantasy Basel’ re-opens after a two-year Covid break

11 days ago

V for Vaccine? One of many masked guests at Fantasy Basel on Saturday Keystone / Peter Klaunzer
The three-day Fantasy Basel festival for fans of films, games, comics, cosplay and manga has re-opened its doors after a two-year break.
Fantasy BaselExternal link, also known as the Swiss Comic Con, is one of the biggest events of its kind in Switzerland. Fans of pop culture are drawn to the exhibition halls in Basel, where many visitors dress up in flashy costumes (cosplayers).
Among the highlights this year is the presence of well-known actors, for example Anna Shaffer, Romilda Vane in the Harry Potter films, and Superman actor Dean Cain.
Fantasy Basel took place for the first time in 2015 but has been cancelled for the past two years owing to Covid-19.
In previous

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More Swiss firms facing cyber-attacks and ransom demands

12 days ago

An attractive target: a Swiss server. © Keystone / Christian Beutler
Ransomware attacks by hackers continue to increase sharply, with some 2,700 Swiss firms falling victim over the past year, Beobachter magazine has reported.
The figure for the period August 2020 to August 2021 was arrived at by American cybersecurity firm Recorded Future, Beobachter wrote on Wednesday.
Measured against the 4,800 attacks over the past five years as a whole, this means a big uptick, confirming reports showing increased cyber criminality during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Beobachter said however that the real figure could be much higher, since many companies choose to discreetly pay the ransom demanded by hackers rather than face the reputational damage of it going public.
Cybersecurity

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Special prosecutor appointed in Crypto spy scandal

13 days ago

A Crypto AG encryption device Keystone / Ennio Leanza
A special public prosecutor has been named in connection with the Crypto spying affair involving manipulated encryption devices which the CIA and the German intelligence agency used to spy on half the world.
Peter Marti, a former judge and district attorney, will look into the violations of official secrecy that took place during the investigation, the supervisory authority of the Office of the Attorney General of Switzerland (OAG) said on Thursday.
In the course of the Crypto investigation, information from the confidential draft of the inspection report ended up in the hands of certain media. This caused serious institutional damage for parliament’s business audit commissions, the OAG’s supervisory authority

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Swiss retain top spot in wealth management ranking

14 days ago

Paradeplatz in Zurich, the Swiss financial heartland © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
Switzerland is still number one in terms of wealth management internationally, despite the growth in new assets slowing in 2020, according to consulting firm Deloitte.
The company found that overall, “the leading centres of international wealth management did surprisingly well during the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Switzerland managed some $2.6 trillion (CHF2.4 trillion) in international assets in 2020, followed by the United Kingdom and the United States, Deloitte reported on Thursday.External link
The firm’s International Wealth Management Centre Ranking (IWMCR) compares wealth management centres around the globe in terms of asset size, competitiveness and performance.
Gap to UK, US
However,

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2022 Geneva Motor Show cancelled

14 days ago

Getting impatient: it’s been a difficult few years for the show. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi
For the third year running, the Geneva International Motor Show will not take place in 2022 due to ongoing health concerns as well as supply shortages in the automotive sector.
The decision comes just a week after organisers had in fact given the all-clear for the 2022 edition to take place from February 19-27 next, following Covid-induced cancellations in 2020 and 2021.
On Thursday however they decided otherwise, citing ongoing difficulties linked to the pandemic as well as current shortages in electronic components – notably semiconductor chips – which have hit carmakers.
With such shortages hampering production, it would be difficult for manufacturers to unveil new

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Opponents challenge media aid law to referendum

14 days ago

Paper or digital? Changing times for the media in Switzerland… Keystone / Alessandro Della Valle – Click to enlarge
A cross-party group has handed in signatures opposing a support package for the media passed by parliament in June.
The “no to state media” group handed in some 113,000 signatures on Wednesday, more than double the amount needed to force a referendum under the Swiss direct democracy system.
The opponents say the law is unconstitutional and a waste of taxpayer money.
“Medias financed by the state prevents public debate and destroys freedom of expression. It’s poisonous for democracy,” said former Liberal Radical (centre-right) parliamentarian Peter Weigelt, president of the committee.
The law passed in June outlines a range of measures to support

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Farmers make hay in 2020 but brace themselves for grim 2021

15 days ago

The weather was favourable for Swiss farmers last year Keystone / Sigi Tischler
Covid, the weather and the pig market were kind to farmers in 2020, with income increasing 6.7% compared with 2019. But this year is looking much bleaker.
The average income last year was CHF79,200 ($85,500) per farm, CHF5,000 more than the year before, Agroscope, the Swiss federal body for agriculture research, said on TuesdayExternal link. Given that there are an average of 1.35 family workers per farm, this means a full-time wage of CHF58,600.
One reason for this increase was the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to higher demand for local products, especially direct from the farm. The weather was also favourable to agriculture in 2020: vegetables, fruit, rapeseed and cereals had better

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Credit Suisse offices raided over Greensill funds

16 days ago

Credit Suisse says police raids were not targeted at the bank itself. Keystone-sda-ats Ag Switzerland
Swiss police have raided the offices of Credit Suisse and seized documents relating to the collapse of its $10bn fund range linked to Greensill Capital.
The police searches were conducted at the request of Zürich’s cantonal public prosecutor earlier this week.
The prosecutor has opened a criminal investigation into Greensill’s activities and the way in which Credit Suisse funds that financed the British firm’s contentious lending schemes were managed and marketed, according to two people familiar with the probe.
Credit Suisse confirmed its offices had been raided, but said the bank itself was not currently a party to the investigation.
“In the course of an

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‘Pandora Papers’ shed more light on activities of Swiss financial advisors

17 days ago

Tax havens link up with a network of financial advisors and banks in numerous countries to funnel assets around the world. Copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
A new set of leaked documents, dubbed the Pandora Papers, has again exposed the role of Swiss lawyers, accountants and consultants in managing the wealth of powerful clients.
The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) has revealed the contents of 11.9 million tax haven documents relating to the financial affairs of political leaders and other figures.
The leaked documents include details of how vast sums of money circulate around the world, including Switzerland, via opaque financial structures.
For example, one lawyer in central Switzerland tended to over 60

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Innovative Switzerland rolls out red carpet at Expo 2020 Dubai

19 days ago

The Swiss Pavilion has a mirrored front and a 700-square-metre red carpet to welcome visitors Keystone / Sebstien Crettaz
After eight years of planning and billions of dollars in spending, the Middle East’s first World Fair has opened in Dubai. Switzerland is participating at Expo 2020 with its own pavilion.
This offers visitors “a memorable experience and showcases our country in all its diversity: from the beauty of the Swiss Alps to Switzerland’s role as a leading innovation hotspot”, said Presence Switzerland, a foreign ministry unit responsible for Switzerland’s image abroad, in a statementExternal link.
Costing CHF16.5 million ($17.7 million) and made possible with partners from business, science and politics – including SWI swissinfo.ch – the pavilion will

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Solidarity vital to overcome crises, Swiss president tells UN

28 days ago

Parmelin struck a personal note in his speech at the UN in New York and mentioned his professional background as a wine-grower. 2021 Getty Images
Guy Parmelin, who holds the rotating Swiss presidency this year, has called for solidarity to tackle global environmental and trade issues.
Addressing the United Nations general assembly in New York, Parmelin said the Covid pandemic had entrenched protectionist policies and laid open the vulnerability of global production and delivery chains.
He appealed for anti-Covid vaccinations to be made available to everybody and highlighted Switzerland’s contribution to the international Covax initiative.
Parmelin also called for better access to education for women and children around the world and stressed the contribution of

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Parliament rejects blanket ban on tobacco ads

29 days ago

Poster advertising of tobacco products and e-cigarettes that can be seen from public places – for example, here in Zurich – will be banned. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
The Swiss parliament has agreed new advertising and sponsorship regulations for tobacco products. However, the supporters of a total ban on tobacco advertising are unimpressed.
The long-running debate was heated until the end, with the political left trying in vain to push through a more restrictive approach to tobacco products.
Poster advertising of tobacco products and e-cigarettes that can be seen from public places, as well as advertising in cinemas, on public transport, in buildings and on sports fields, will be banned. Sponsorship is to be prohibited for events in Switzerland if they have an

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Swiss won’t vote on arms export ban proposal

September 17, 2021

The decision by the House of Representatives is considered a political upset. Earlier this year, the house refused to restrict the powers of the government. © Keystone/Christian Beutler
Campaigners seeking a ban on Swiss arms exports have withdrawn their initiative that aimed to stop weapons exports to countries in conflict.
The broad allianceExternal link of political parties and non-governmental groups behind the proposal says it is pleased that parliament has agreed a compromise.
“This is a great day for a credible Swiss peace policy,” the alliance declared. ”We therefore withdraw the initiative.”
The announcement came after a slim majority in the House of Representatives on Wednesday refused to grant the government the right to decide on exceptions to a ban.

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Swiss won’t vote on arms export ban proposal

September 17, 2021

The decision by the House of Representatives is considered a political upset. Earlier this year, the house refused to restrict the powers of the government. © Keystone/Christian Beutler
Campaigners seeking a ban on Swiss arms exports have withdrawn their initiative that aimed to stop weapons exports to countries in conflict.
The broad allianceExternal link of political parties and non-governmental groups behind the proposal says it is pleased that parliament has agreed a compromise.
“This is a great day for a credible Swiss peace policy,” the alliance declared. ”We therefore withdraw the initiative.”
The announcement came after a slim majority in the House of Representatives on Wednesday refused to grant the government the right to decide on exceptions to a ban.

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Commodity giants race to clean up mineral supply chains amid green energy boom

September 16, 2021

Massive nickel mining projects are underway on New Caledonia. Last year, plans to sell a major nickel mine to a foreign consortium led by Trafigura faced major local opposition. © Biosphoto / Thibaut Vergoz – Droit Géré – Oeuvre Protégée Par Copyright – – – –
Electric car manufacturers and other green energy companies are trying to get a grip on their mineral supply chains. In doing so, they are bringing commodity traders out from the shadows.
To meet global climate change targets, demand for minerals and metals like cobalt, copper, and nickel used in green technologies like rechargeable batteries is expected to rise exponentially. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that more than six times more mineral input will be needed to achieve net-zero

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Commodity giants race to clean up mineral supply chains amid green energy boom

September 16, 2021

Massive nickel mining projects are underway on New Caledonia. Last year, plans to sell a major nickel mine to a foreign consortium led by Trafigura faced major local opposition. © Biosphoto / Thibaut Vergoz – Droit Géré – Oeuvre Protégée Par Copyright – – – –
Electric car manufacturers and other green energy companies are trying to get a grip on their mineral supply chains. In doing so, they are bringing commodity traders out from the shadows.
To meet global climate change targets, demand for minerals and metals like cobalt, copper, and nickel used in green technologies like rechargeable batteries is expected to rise exponentially. The International Energy Agency (IEA) estimates that more than six times more mineral input will be needed to achieve net-zero

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Corruption trackers flag increased global money laundering risks

September 14, 2021

Keystone / Mast Irham
The global community is slipping in its efforts to tackle money laundering and terrorist finance, a Swiss corruption watchdog warned on Monday.
The Basel Institute on Governance said the global risk score increased from 5.22 to 5.3 out of 10 (highest risk score) in its Anti-Money Laundering Index.
In 2021, Switzerland scored 4.89 in the independent annual ranking that examines the risk of money laundering in 110 jurisdictions. That marks an increase relative to 2020 when it scored 4.74. It now ranks 43rd
Even countries that made progress, the report observed, only made minimal, marginal gains.
+ Switzerland commits to greater financial transparency
The 10th edition of the Basel AML Index report stresses that a stronger response is needed to

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Property sole inflationary concern for Swiss central bank

September 13, 2021

The Swiss property market continues to heat up during the pandemic. Keystone / Christof Schuerpf
The risk of a housing bubble has increased in the last three months, but the Swiss National Bank (SNB) is unconcerned about a general inflationary threat.
In an interview with the SonntagsZeitung newspaper on Sunday, SNB vice-chairman Fritz Zurbrügg said that housing market had heated further since June. “We cannot sit back and relax,” he said.
“But we have also always pointed out that most banks should have sufficient capital buffers to absorb impending losses. And even if the risks increase, that does not mean that a serious crisis will occur.”
Last month, the SNB said that property prices have risen around 80% in the last 15 years, mortgage debt has grown to 150% of

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‘Serious failings’ at online vaccination registry, says federal commissioner

September 12, 2021

The voluntary site allowed people to register their vaccinations online, but the probe found their data was not secure. Keystone / Gaetan Bally
A federal investigator has found “serious” technical failures at voluntary vaccination registry mesvaccins.ch, which was closed in May following data security concerns.
“The technical failures were indeed very serious, affecting all services of the platform,” Federal Data Protection Commissioner Adrian Lobsiger told Swiss public radio SRFExternal link on Friday.
He opened an investigation in May after a report that 450,000 vaccination data, including those of 240,000 people vaccinated against Covid-19, were openly accessible and vulnerable to manipulation. Lobsiger has now produced a final report.
Users should be able to

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Swiss DLT stock exchange wins long-awaited license to operate

September 11, 2021

SIX group has backed its new DLT exchange to enhance the way stocks and bonds are traded worldwide. © Keystone / Ennio Leanza
A new Swiss stock exchange has been awarded a license to trade digital assets using distributed ledger technology (DLT).
On Friday, the SIX Digital Exchange (SDX) was given the go-ahead by the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA) to operate as a stock exchange and central securities depositoryExternal link.
The licensing milestone means that SDX can now trade securities, such as company shares and bonds, on a digital platform that is similar to blockchain. SDX is backing the new technology to reduce trading delays and save on costs.
SDX’s parent company is SIX Group, which is owned by several Swiss banks and already operates

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Using Swiss technology to store CO2 in Iceland

September 10, 2021

The Orca plant in Climeworks, Iceland, intends to extract 4,000 tonnes of CO2 per year from the air. Climeworks
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.
What if, after decades of steady rise, global greenhouse gas emissions finally started to drop?
Such is the hope of Climeworks, world leader in the technology for removing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere (known as direct air capture, or DAC). After launching the first industrial plant for the capture and use of CO2 in 2017, the company is now setting a new milestone on the path to climate neutrality.

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