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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

Work to begin on Swiss backup power plant

2 days ago

The Swiss government has given the green light to begin the construction of a temporary reserve power plant due to be operational from February next year.
The executive body signed off on two decisions on Friday to speed up the approval of planning regulations for the eight-turbine plant in Birr, in the north of the country.
The government had already signed a contract with the GE Gas Power company earlier this month for the CHF470 million ($480 million) project; Friday’s decision means work can begin almost immediately on preparing the temporary plant, which will be available until spring 2026 as back-up in case of energy emergencies.
The turbines, which can be powered by gas, oil or hydrogen, are meant to supplement Switzerland’s hydropower reserve – also

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Wealthy echelons thrive amid economic volatility

3 days ago

The world’s richest people saw their wealth expand last year as stock markets and real estate gained in value, according to Swiss bank Credit Suisse.

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 DepartmentMatthew Allen

Total global wealth increased by 9.8% to $463.6 trillion (CHF447.7 trillion) as the world’s millionaires and billionaires grabbed an increasing slice of available assets. By the end of 2021, 45.5% of global wealth was in the hands of just 1% of the population, compared to 43.9% in 2020.
With 1,152 millionaires (an increase of 113 in

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Energy worries likely to slow Swiss growth, say experts

4 days ago

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent worries about energy sources make the economic outlook uncertain. (c) Copyright 2022, Dpa (www.dpa.de). Alle Rechte Vorbehalten

Swiss economic growth forecasts for 2022 and 2023 have been revised significantly downwards, amid uncertainty over energy supply and inflation.
A government expert group has downgraded its expectations for GDP growth to 2% in 2022, compared with the 2.6% it predicted in June. For 2023, its forecast has been revised down from 1.9% to 1.1%, according to a government press release on Tuesday.
After a positive first half of the year 2022, the Swiss economy now faces a deteriorating outlook, say the experts. “A tense energy situation and sharp price increases are weighing on economic

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Swiss electricity data reaches government with major delays

6 days ago

The government plans to examine concrete and binding measures to save electricity in the coming weeks. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

The Swiss government lacks up-to-date information on national electricity production and consumption, according to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. This is due to the lack of digitalisation of the electricity companies. The lack of information was a focal point of Sunday news report amid rising concerns over an energy crunch in Europe as Russia’s war in Ukraine drags on.
Electricity consumption data reaches the government with a delay of several months, with the latest concrete figures available corresponding to May; in addition to an extrapolation for June, according to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy. The inability to

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Competition authorities probe Novartis over suspected patent abuse

7 days ago

The Swiss competition commission (COMCO) has opened an investigation into suspected unlawful use of a patent to reduce competitive pressure by Swiss pharmaceutical giant Novartis.
The probe, which is in collaboration with the European Commission, is looking into whether the company used unlawful means to ward off competition for its own dermatological treatments. COMCO conducted an early morning raid at the company’s Basel headquarters on September 13 in connection with the probe.“The company allegedly attempted to protect its drug for the treatment of skin diseases against competing products by using one of its patents to initiate litigation proceedings,” COMCO said in a statement, which didn’t mention the company by name.
The investigation seeks to determine

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Swiss car importer pledges to end petrol vehicle sales

8 days ago

The proportion of electric cars is increasing on Swiss roads. © Keystone / Christian Beutler
Switzerland’s largest car importer, AMAG, plans to sell purely electric powered vehicles from 2040 and is diversifying into solar systems and heat pumps.
AMAG, which imports cars and sells them to dealerships, said on Tuesday that it will acquire Swiss photovoltaic pioneer Helion to help its conversion to a renewable energy business.
The takeover will create a new Energy & Mobility division within AMAG. “We want to increasingly produce the electricity that operates the electric vehicles we sell to our partners,” said AMAG CEO Helmut Ruhl.
The company has a long-term plan to use car electric batteries to store solar power and help stabilise the national power grid by

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Switzerland braces for winter energy crunch

9 days ago

Despite being one of the world’s richest countries, Switzerland also faces the threat of an energy shortage in the coming months. The authorities are scrambling to prepare.
SWI swissinfo.ch has gathered answers to some of the most pressing questions on electricity supply, Switzerland’s dependence on Russian gas, and measures being taken to get the country through the winter.
Is Switzerland self-sufficient in meeting its energy needs?
No. Domestic electricity production covers only around 25% of the country’s energy needs. The remaining 75% is imported in the form of crude oil, petroleum products, gas and coal.
Compared with other European countries, Switzerland is one of the least self-sufficient in terms of energy production..
Where does the electricity used in

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Swiss parliament okays purchase of F-35 jets from US

9 days ago

Switzerland’s House of Representatives has approved the purchase of new F-35 fighter jets from the United States. The decision clears the path for Bern to sign the purchase contract, even though an initiative to prevent the deal has not been voted on by Swiss voters.
Keystone-SDA news agency reported on Thursday that the majority was convinced the contract should be signed by the bid closing date: March 30, 2023. The jet purchase is part of the Army’s 2022 budget, with the entire program worth CHF9.552 billion, two-thirds of which is earmarked for the F-35 jets from US firm Lockheed Martin.
One parliamentarian warned of inflation-related additional costs and delays in case of failure to do so because the F-35s are in a production slot. If the Swiss order falls

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Support drops for pension reform and factory farming ban 

10 days ago

A reform of the Swiss old age pension system has lost ground but is still likely to win a majority in a nationwide vote later this month, pollsters say. 

Worked in radio and newspaper journalism, as well as teaching and tourism before joining swissinfo.ch’s predecessor Swiss Radio International in the 1980s. He reports from parliament, and focuses on direct democracy issues.
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| English DepartmentUrs Geiser

Support for a proposed ban on factory farming has also fallen slightly and the initiative isn’t expected to have the upper hand on September 25.
Ahead of next year’s parliamentary elections, the political left could be heading for a multiple defeat in ten days’ time if voters approve a planned reform of the withholding tax as the

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Swiss price watchdog lays out options for slashing electricity costs

10 days ago

Cutting down on fees for the grid connection could save consumers around CHF350 million ($365 million), according to Meierhans. © Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi
By reducing grid connection fees and municipal duties, the federal government could help to keep electricity bills down, Stefan Meierhans told Le Matin Dimanche newspaper.
Meierhans said it is possible for the government to change the framework conditions that would allow a lowering of fees for using the grid. Such a move, which he has already recommended to the cabinet, could save consumers around CHF350 million ($365 million), he said in an interview published on Sunday.
The price watchdog also said he regularly recommends to the authorities that they abolish concession duties. Together these two measures

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Former UBS CEO sees no need for two big Swiss banks

11 days ago

Ermotti also called into question the need for 24 cantonal banks. Keystone / Elia Bianchi
Having two big players like UBS and Credit Suisse provides no “compelling” economic benefit for Switzerland, Sergio Ermotti has told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper.
“The strength of the country’s financial centre is its diversification, which is much more important than the number of big banks,” the former UBS CEO said in an interview published on Sunday. In the last ten years, cantonal banks have grown both bigger and stronger, as have regional banks like Raiffeisen and some larger private banks.
“The domestic market is not dependent on two big banks,” Ermotti pointed out, adding that their market share in lending and mortgages is no bigger than that of other banks. He also

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Novartis to spend $300m on biotherapeutics drive

11 days ago

Swiss pharmaceuticals giant Novartis is currently restructuring its business. © Keystone / Urs Flueeler
Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis is investing $300 million ($288 million) in biotherapeutics development, which includes a new $100 million biologics hub at its home base in Basel.
A further $110 million will be spent on research and production at a Novartis site in Slovenia and $60 million in Austria, the company announced on Monday.
Biotherapeutics is a growing class of medicaments which are extracted or synthesized from biological material, including proteins, cells and genes to treat such conditions as cancer and autoimmune diseases.
“Across the industry, biotherapeutics account for almost one-half of all recent new drug approvals and have enormous

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How gold mining in Ghana is threatening Swiss chocolate

12 days ago

Swissinfo.ch/Delali Adogla-Bessa
As the world’s second-largest cocoa producer continues to lose swathes of farmland to illegal gold mining, Switzerland’s chocolate makers are waking up to the threat to their raw material supply.

SWI swissinfo.ch special series: An African perspective on cocoa
Native to Central and South America, cocoa cultivation in West Africa was first recorded in 1868. The archives of the Royal Botanic Gardens in Kew refer to a few cocoa trees that were thriving on the property of the Swiss missionary charity Basel Mission in Akropong in what was then known as the British Crown colony of Gold Coast. Today, the West African countries of Ivory Coast and Ghana produce over 60% of the world’s cocoa beans and Switzerland has become synonymous with

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Home ownership remains a mirage for most Swiss

12 days ago

Many Swiss dream of owning a single-family home in the countryside and passing it on to their children. For most, this dream is increasingly unrealistic.

Journalist and deputy head of the swissinfo.ch editorial group for German, French and Italian. Earlier, worked for Teletext and Switzerland’s French-language national broadcaster.
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| French DepartmentSamuel Jaberg

In 2015, before starting a family, Ophélie* and her partner Laurent* wanted to buy a rural property close to their parents’ homes in the Broye region of canton Fribourg, where they both grew up. Although they knew the search would be difficult, they began looking for a house on a large parcel of land.
After scouring the online listings and visiting about ten properties,

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Swiss court gives Nord Stream 2 more time to avoid insolvency

14 days ago

Keystone / Jens Buettner
The Swiss company behind the Russian gas pipeline Nord Stream 2 has received a four-month extension to try to repay its debts.
The Zug cantonal court in Switzerland, where Nord Stream 2 AG is headquartered, granted the company a second extension, according to an entry in the Swiss Official Gazette of Commerce published on Thursday. The firm has until January 10, 2023 to turn things around and avoid bankruptcy proceedings.
In May, the court granted a provisional moratorium against bankruptcy proceedings for the first time, which was valid until September 10. This period has now been extended by another four months.
Nord Stream 2 is a subsidiary of the Russian gas company Gazprom and has its headquarters in the low-tax canton of Zug, located

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Migrant workers head back to Switzerland as Covid-19 restrictions end

15 days ago

Switzerland has returned as a popular destination for foreigners looking for work after two years of Covid-19 restrictions. Over 75,000 people have immigrated to Switzerland so far in 2022, driven largely by an economic boom and unemployment levels falling to a 20-year low.

Alexander Thoele began working for SWI swissinfo.ch in 2002. He is of German and Brazilian origin. He was born in Rio de Janeiro and completed studies in journalism and computer science in Brasilia and Stuttgart.
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| Portuguese DepartmenAlexander Thoele

On March 16, 2020, the almost surreal image of sealed-off Swiss borders marked a sudden break with what had been taken for granted for so long: freedom of movement in Europe.
But two-and-a-half years later, the

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Too soon to say inflation has peaked, says SNB boss

16 days ago

“You cannot say we have passed the zenith and now it is certainly heading lower,” Swiss National Bank President Thomas Jordan told a Finanz and Wirtschaft financial conference on Thursday. © Keystone / Anthony Anex

The president of the Swiss National Bank (SNB), Thomas Jordan, says the inflation outlook is more uncertain than normal and it is premature to say prices have peaked.
“You cannot say we have passed the zenith and now it is certainly heading lower,” Jordan told a Finanz and Wirtschaft financial conference on Thursday.
“If it comes to a power shortage situation, to a complete gas shortage in Europe, then it cannot be excluded that inflation pressure rises again. You have to be very cautious.”
The SNB increased its policy rate in June by half a point

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Social security

16 days ago

© Keystone / Gaetan Bally Switzerland has a social security network that covers risks in many areas – work, health, family and old age. The Swiss social security system cannot be easily compared with that found in other countries, as it comprises a variety of insurance schemes with very different mechanisms. Its funding is characterised …

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Swiss economy slows but stays in the black

18 days ago

Consumer spending continued to rise in the spring, but may dampen as the price of goods picks up. © Keystone / Christian Beutler
Switzerland’s economic output slowed to 0.3% between April and the end of June, compared to the first quarter of the year.
The manufacturing, construction, trade and financial services sectors all showed signs of weakening in the face of energy shortages and rising inflation.
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) reported a slower rate of gross domestic product (GDP) growth than the 0.5% uptick recorded for the first quarter of the year.
The lifting of pandemic restrictions boosted the tourism trade and the hotel, restaurant and transport sectors. Consumer spending also picked up during the spring and early summer as

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Pilot project tests power backup from electric cars

18 days ago

Car sharing firm Mobility is providing 50 Honda electric cars for this innovative project. © Keystone / Christian Beutler
An innovative pilot project testing the potential of electric cars to stabilise the power grid has been launched in Switzerland.
For one year, the power of 50 electric vehicles will be fed back into the grid from their batteries when they are not running, car-sharing company Mobility which leads the project said on Tuesday.
The “V2X Switzerland” project was launched in Bern, bringing together a total seven companies including car maker Honda. It also has support from the Swiss Federal Office of Energy and the Federal Technology Institute Zurich ETH), according to the press release.
Mobility is providing 50 “Honda e” electric cars for this pilot

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Switzerland key to rehabilitating tarnished crypto exchange

19 days ago

The BitMEX cryptocurrency exchange wants to reincorporate from its present location in the Seychelles. Keystone
Troubled cryptocurrency exchange BitMEX is charting its revival in Switzerland after the platform and its three co-founders were prosecuted in the United States.

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.
More from this author
| English DepartmentMatthew Allen

The company has just been given the green light to start operating its new brokerage unit in Switzerland as a self-regulated entity. But BitMEX has grander ambitions in ‘Crypto Nation’ as it strives to distance itself

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Credit Suisse reportedly slashing 5,000 jobs globally

19 days ago

The company has faced a string of scandals and mounting legal costs. It is currently undergoing what it calls a transition phase with a new CEO. © Keystone / Melanie Duchene
Embattled Swiss bank Credit Suisse is planning to cut around 10% of its workforce as part of a major cost cutting drive, according to several media reports.
Reuters reported on Thursday that someone with direct knowledge of the matter indicated that 5,000 positions are expected to be slashed, which is about one in ten positions at the second largest bank in Switzerland.
Credit Suisse declined to respond to Reuters’ requests for confirmation, repeating that it would give an update on its strategy review with its third-quarter earnings next month. Any reporting on outcomes of this review was

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Steel mill applies for reduced working hours due to energy costs

20 days ago

© Keystone / Gaetan Bally High energy prices have forced a steel mill in Switzerland to prepare for short-time working to avoid layoffs. The Stahl Gerlafingen steel plant in the canton of Solothurn has been granted permission to resort to short-time working from October to December as a preventive measure. The mill consumes as much electricity …

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Swiss bank takes plunge into the metaverse

21 days ago

Sygnum bank is extending its reach into Web3 and decentralised services by launching in the Decentraland metaverse. Sygnum
Swiss digital assets bank Sygnum will open a branch in the metaverse to reach more clients seeking blockchain-based financial services.
Sygnum was one of two banks that were awarded licenses in 2019 to connect traditional finance with cryptocurrencies and the blockchain.
Blockchain and other Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) databases provide a home for digital currencies and other assets, such as company shares, collectibles and art.
The decentralised technology aims to transform finance by granting users more control over their assets and direct access to trading partners, rather than through intermediaries.
Blockchains also underpin a new

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Electricity shortage boosts solar energy

22 days ago

Solar energy systems supplied 6.5% of the electricity required in Switzerland in the first half of 2022 © Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott
Fears of an electricity shortage in Switzerland appear to have had a positive effect on the expansion of solar energy. The Swiss Federal Office of Energy (SFOE) expects the market to grow by around 50% in 2022.
New photovoltaic construction in Switzerland rose by 43% to 683 megawatts in 2021, revealed SFOE statistics on solar energy published in July. This year the SFOE expects an increase of 900-1,000 megawatts in solar energy, according to an enquiry by the Swiss News Agency Keystone-SDA. This corresponds to a market growth of around 50%.
The SFOE currently expects production to exceed 1,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per kilowatt

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Inflation continues to bite in Switzerland

23 days ago

The strong franc only goes so far in protecting Switzerland from inflation. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
The cost of goods and services in Switzerland rose 3.5% in August compared to the same month last year, but the inflation rate still remains below that of many other countries.
Prices for imported goods leapt 8.6%, according to the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), while domestic products went up 1.8%.
Rising energy and fuel costs are the main drivers of inflation – the annual rate of inflation was 2% in August when these factors are stripped out.
But the increased cost of hospital care and welfare, along with rental hikes, also contributed to the burden, said the FSO.
The Swiss National Bank, which raised interest rates by 0.5% in June, predicts inflation to

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Swiss population urged to save energy to mitigate winter shortages

24 days ago

Turning down heating in households could help stave off energy rationing, the government says. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
The Swiss government has appealed to the population to save on household energy ahead of anticipated electricity and gas shortages this winter.
On Wednesday, the government launched a campaign entitled “Energy is scare, let’s not waste it” along with the formation of an Energy Saving Alliance. The plans are backed by cantons, business associations, companies and civil society groups.
“We must work together to ensure that we have enough energy in Switzerland,” said Economics Minister Guy Parmelin. “Every kilowatt hour counts.”
Households are asked to turn down heating, use less hot water, switch off unused electrical devices and lights and to use

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Switzerland should get tougher on money-laundering, says report

25 days ago

Refined gold bars have their origins monitored, but purchase of raw materials for smelting can slip through the net. Keystone / Martin Ruetschi
Swiss legislation is lagging behind in the fight against money laundering, and “seldom anticipates developments at international level”, the Swiss Federal Audit Office (SFAO) has warned.
SFAO audits have “revealed weaknesses and, hence, financial and reputational risks for the Swiss authorities,” the office said in a report released on Monday.
The SFAO points particularly to the slowness of courts dealing with economic crimes cases and “the low dissuasive effect of criminal sanctions and legal costs”, since companies pay a maximum amount of CHF5 million ($5.2 million).
It also calls on authorities that detect anomalies to

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Healthcare and pensions top Swiss worry list

26 days ago

Health doesn’t come cheap: and the Swiss are worried about it. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
Healthcare costs, the pension system and climate change are the top three burning issues for the Swiss, according to a survey published by the Tamedia group. Covid has slipped out of sight and mind.
The cost of healthcare was most pressing for over two-thirds (67%) of the 26,000 respondents, while pensions and the climate were cited by 60% and 56% respectively, wrote Tamedia newspapers on Sunday.
This is not surprising: health concerns, and notably the price of insurance premiums, are a perennial bugbear, and this year costs are expected to rise even more than usual; the pension system and its financing (the object of an upcoming national vote) is also a recurring source of

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Swiss electricity boss: energy policy not to blame for shortages

27 days ago

Swiss sockets: currently waiting nervously for the winter ahead. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
The head of the Swiss Federal Electricity Commission (Elcom) reckons a winter energy crisis is virtually unavoidable. However, he said the cause of the problem – war in Ukraine – was also difficult to predict.
Speaking to SRF public radio on Saturday, Werner Luginbühl said the “exorbitant rise in electricity prices” was already putting certain Swiss businesses into existential difficulty.
The Elcom boss added that while “we are doing everything to ensure there will be no electricity shortages this winter”, the risk has not diminished in recent weeks.
On Tuesday, Elcom laid out plans to make hydropower operators hold back more reserves – which would usually be sold on the

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