Friday , January 27 2023
Home / Swissinfo
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 medicine sales to Russia hit 30-year high

2 days ago

Pharmaceutical exports in nominal terms increased by 40% since the Ukraine war began. However, export volume increased only slightly. © Keystone / Christian Beutler
Swiss exports of pharmaceuticals to Russia, which are not subject to sanctions, reached a 30-year record last year, buoyed by high prices.

Roche, Novartis and the other Swiss pharma companies brought in CHF2.1 billion ($2.3 billion) from the export of pharmaceuticals to Russia in 2022.
In 2021 the Swiss pharma industry sold drugs worth CHF1.5 billion to Russia. This means sales increased by 40% since Russia invaded Ukraine. This is based on an analysis by the Swiss News Agency Keystone-SDA of foreign trade data released by the Swiss customs office on Tuesday.
In contrast to sales, export volume of

Read More »

Why can’t the Swiss National Bank go bankrupt?

3 days ago

Reuters
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) will make a loss of CHF132 billion in 2022, and distribution of profits to the confederation and the cantons will be suspended. What does this mean for the stability of the SNB and what would happen if it faces another large loss?
The SNB still has money. However, not quite as much as at the beginning of last year. Because of last year’s loss, its equity capital has fallen from CHF198 billion to CHF66 billion. In the event of another large loss, the SNB is threatened with over-indebtedness.
What would that mean for the SNB? And why, from an economic point of view, could the SNB pay out a profit to the confederation and the cantons again this year? We clarify these questions in the latest Geldcast update.

[embedded content]

Read More »

China-Switzerland flights struggle to resume after three years

4 days ago

The return of Chinese tourists to Switzerland is not expected just yet. Keystone / Mark R. Cristino
Geneva airport was expected to see the return of direct flights from China next week, but the scheduled Air China flights of January 26 and February 2 have been cancelled due to lack of passengers, reports Swiss public broadcaster RTS.

China reopened its borders on January 8 after three years of tough pandemic restrictions. However, there were not enough bookings to maintain the first connections between Beijing and Geneva, the Chinese airline confirmed.
The next Geneva-Beijing flight is scheduled for February 9. Air China says that bookings should allow it to maintain this route.
SWISS International Airlines has not yet decided when it will resume passenger

Read More »

Three Swiss firms ranked among top 100 family businesses

7 days ago

Pharmaceuticals giant Roche, whose towers dominate the Basel skyline, is the top ranked Swiss company in this listing. © Keystone / Michael Buholzer
Swiss pharmaceuticals group Roche, logistics company Kühne+Nagel and luxury goods group Richemont are among the world’s top 100 family businesses, according to a study by EY Switzerland.
Sixteen Swiss-based family businesses are among the world’s top 500, a figure that has remained stable over the past two years, according to the index published on Tuesday by consultancy firm EY Switzerland and the University of St Gallen.
Roche was ranked 16th in the listing, as it was in 2021, while Kühne+Nagel moved up to 45th (2021: 66) and Richemont to 79th place (2021: 101).
The other 13 Swiss firms ranked in the top 500 are:

Read More »

Crypto crash fails to deliver death blow to Swiss ambitions

8 days ago

The crypto sector appears to be suffering an existential crisis, shedding jobs, client funds and credibility. Switzerland looks to have escaped with a glancing blow – if industry data is anything to go by.
The collapse of the Terra stablecoin and the FTX crypto exchange last year sent negative ripples across the globe.
Big name crypto firms such as the Coinbase and Huobi exchanges, Silvergate bank and Genesis are laying off large chunks of staff. That’s to avoid the same fate as the bankrupt FTX, Three Arrows Capital and Voyager.Switzerland, as the self-styled ‘Crypto Nation’, hasn’t seen anything so spectacular, according to the latest research by Zug-based venture capital company CV VC.
Its ‘Top 50’ report says 183 blockchain-related companies went bust last

Read More »

WEF: Oxfam urges windfall tax on food companies

10 days ago

Food and energy are among the industries dominated by a small number of players that have effective oligopolies, and the lack of competition allows them to keep prices high, Oxfam says Keystone / Alessandro Della Bella
Food companies making big profits as inflation has surged should face windfall taxes to help cut global inequality, anti-poverty group Oxfam said on Monday as the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) gets underway in the Swiss mountain resort of Davos.

That’s one of the ideas in a report, Survival of the Richest, by Oxfam International, which has sought for a decade to highlight at WEF inequality.
The report, which aims to provoke discussions on panels featuring corporate and government leaders this week, said the world has been beset

Read More »

UBS eyes US and China expansion

11 days ago

Kelleher spent 30 years at US bank Morgan Stanley before joining the UBS board in April 2022. Keystone/gaetan Bally
UBS chairman Colm Kelleher says Switzerland’s largest bank needs to expand its wealth management business in the US to compete with the big Wall Street banks.
“Wealthy Americans like to be with a bank like UBS,” Kelleher told the Neue Zürcher Zeitung in an interview. “UBS has a phenomenal reputation in wealth management.” Kelleher was elected UBS chairman in April 2022 after some 30 years at US bank Morgan Stanley.
A key priority for the bank, said Kelleher, is boosting its wealth management business, specifically with ultra-high-net-worth clients, and institutional investors in the US.
“Unlike 25 years ago, it’s not about becoming American to beat

Read More »

Switzerland and US sign deal on pharmaceutical supply chain

12 days ago

The agreement comes as the complexities in global pharmaceutical supply chains increase, making them more burdensome to monitor. Keystone / Martin Ruetschi
US and Swiss authorities have agreed to share inspection documents on pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities in a move to improve efficiency and safety in the drug supply chain.
According to the Office of the US Trade Representative, the Good Manufacturing Practice Mutual Recognition Agreement signed on Thursday allows authorities from both countries to share documents from their routine inspections of pharmaceutical manufacturing facilities, which will reduce unnecessary costs and duplication of efforts.
This agreement comes as the complexities of foreign production and sourcing in supply chains for medicine

Read More »

Rents rise by almost 3% in Switzerland

15 days ago

Apartment buildings and other accommodation in St Moritz, canton Graubünden. The canton registered the biggest rent increases last year (6.7%). Keystone / Gian Ehrenzeller
Rents in Switzerland rose by an average of 2.8% last year, the largest annual increase in 14 years. Switzerland is unique in Europe with the majority of residents living in rented accommodation.
The 2022 increase is the biggest since the annual rent survey began in 2009, according to the Homegate rent index, produced in collaboration with Zurich Cantonal Bank.
“This sharp rise is the result of a growing shortage in the rental housing market coupled with rising heating and service charges,” the authors said on Tuesday.
Annual increases were observed across the country. Canton Graubünden

Read More »

Inflation, extreme weather and wars identified as top global risks

15 days ago

The escalating cost of food and other goods is putting an increasing strain on many societies. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Global stability is most threatened by rising food and energy costs, climate-related disasters and the risk of further military conflict, according to 1,200 experts canvassed by the World Economic Forum (WEF).
The WEF Global Risks Report 2023 reflects the concerns of political and business leaders around the world.
The soaring cost of living has been tagged as the most pressing concern within the next two years, followed by natural disasters and ‘Geoeconomic confrontation’ – or warfare.
The list of short-term risks has changed from the last report, issued in January 2022, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the impact this has had on

Read More »

‘Playful’ Swiss cheese marks record sales

16 days ago

Switzerland’s Tête de Moine (Monk’s Head) cheese broke all-time sales and production records last year, due particularly to its “conviviality”, according to the sector’s president.
Tête de Moine sold 3,300 tons sold worldwide in 2022, up 3.7% on the previous year, despite a difficult economic climate marked by the strong Swiss franc and war in Ukraine. The main export markets are Germany and France, sector president Jacques Gygax said on Monday.
Gygax put this down particularly to good marketing. He said producers were particularly proud of the fact that it had become part of people’s customs in Germany.
But Gygax said it was also because of the “playful and convivial aspect” of this cheese, which is traditionally served in rosettes scraped off with a special

Read More »

Swiss jobless rate sinks as unions demand more pay

17 days ago

The rate of unemployment in Switzerland fell to 2.2% last year, the lowest rate in 20 years, according to official statistics.
At the same time, trade unions complained that wages were too low for many workers and demanded more pay.
On Monday, the State Secretariat for Economic affairs (Seco) said the jobless rate fell from 3% in 2021 to 2.2% last year.
This corresponds to 99,577 people registered as out of work on average each month. The number of jobless people and those already in employment seeking a new position also decreased to 175,549 but there are signs of this rate picking up in January.
The amount of money given out by the state to compensate for shortened working hours was CHF366 million ($394 million) in 2022, significantly down on the CHF4.9

Read More »

Swiss central bank posts record CHF132 billion loss for 2022

18 days ago

The Swiss National Bank (SNB) has posted an annual loss of CHF132 billion ($143 billion) for 2022, the biggest in its 115-year history.
“The loss on foreign currency positions amounted to around CHF131 billion and the loss on Swiss franc positions was around CHF1 billion. A valuation gain of CHF400 million was recorded on gold holdings,” the SNB said in a statement on Monday.
The 2022 loss means the SNB will not make its usual payout to the Swiss federal and cantonal governments, it said. Last year it paid out CHF6 billion.
The figures released on Monday are provisional. They mark a reverse from the CHF26 billion profit in 2021. They are also much bigger than the previous record loss of CHF23 billion in 2015.
The loss is unlikely to have an impact on SNB policy.

Read More »

Data centres account for 4 percent of Swiss electricity usage

18 days ago

Data centres are expanding rapidly in Switzerland, with such facilities already accounting for 4% of national energy – more than the farming sector.
The SonntagsZeitung reports that Switzerland is now home to 86 data centres, and only Netherlands has a higher rate per capita in Europe.
The paper cites a 2021 study by the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts estimating that the energy usage of Swiss data centres will double in the next five years, mirroring trends worldwide.
“Politicians generally underestimate this development,” Professor Adrian Altenburger of the Lucerne University told the newspaper. “The energy needs of these centres are going to massively increase in the coming years.”
The International Energy Agency (IEA) meanwhile estimated

Read More »

Davos apartment rental prices spike ahead of WEF

20 days ago

Visitors travelling to the mountain town of Davos for this month’s World Economic Forum (WEF) could face pricey rates, according to Swiss media.
The Schweiz am Wochenende newspaper writes on Saturday that a three-bed studio in the canton Graubünden town costs CHF2,600 ($2,800) per night during the WEF, runs from January 16-20. With service charges and cleaning, this comes to CHF15,000 for the five nights of the event, the paper writes.
In February, the same studio rents for CHF150 a night.
The newspaper also mentions the example of an apartment with two double beds and a sofa bed going for CHF25,000 for the five nights.
Price hikes during WEF week are a recurring phenomenon, and a source of criticism, especially from the WEF organisers – who themselves need

Read More »

Uber side-stepped Swiss rules, says whistleblower

20 days ago

A former top lobbyist for Uber says the firm wilfully ignored regulations when it began operating in Switzerland in 2013. Uber says it has since updated its working model.
By choosing to act first and apologise later in implementing its gig-economy model, Uber “massively undermined” democracy in many countries, including Switzerland, former lobbyist Mark MacGann told Tamedia newspapers on Saturday.
MacGann was Uber’s chief lobbyist in Europe between 2014 and 2016 before leaving and later becoming a whistleblower; last year he was at the source of the large-scale “Uber files” investigation published by The Guardian.
He says Uber knew of the Swiss rules regarding social security and employment law, but chose to “discard them”. The company knew it would only be

Read More »

Swiss examine Covid test obligation for travellers from China

21 days ago

Travellers at Geneva airport in December © Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

While countries around the world impose curbs on travellers from China as Covid-19 cases there surge, the Swiss authorities are still weighing up possible measures.
On Wednesday health experts from the 27 EU member states couldn’t agree on compulsory testing for travellers from China, but they strongly recommended it.
The EU health experts also recommended, among other things, that medical or FFP2 masks be worn on aircraft from China.
The Federal Office of Public Health told the Swiss News Agency Keystone-SDA on Thursday that it acknowledged the results of the meeting and was examining them in the light of epidemiological criteria.
Also on Thursday Germany, Sweden and Belgium ordered

Read More »

Over 50,000 new Swiss companies were founded in 2022

23 days ago

Keystone / Ennio Leanza

A total of 50,015 companies set up in Switzerland last year thanks to a late surge in the last quarter.
The number of new firms entering the marketplace has remained stable. The total corresponds to a drop of 1% compared to 2021 and an increase of 7% compared to 2020, according to data from commercial registers compiled by Help.ch published on Tuesday.
The performance in 2022 is 27% higher than ten years ago, when 39,371 companies were founded in 2012. This is a result that is “positive and reinforces our image of a dynamic and productive Swiss economy” last year and in previous years, the document said.
In December alone, 4,897 new companies were founded, 18% more than in November and 1% less than in the previous year.
However, the

Read More »

Electric cars continue to gain ground in Switzerland

25 days ago

In 2022, 17.3% of all new cars sold in Switzerland were 100% electric, while 8% were plug-in hybrid models, according to Swiss eMobility. Keystone/gaetan Bally
Around one in four new cars purchased last year in Switzerland were either 100% electric or plug-in hybrid models.
The country’s best-selling model was an electric car: the Tesla Model Y, the Swiss eMobility association reported on Monday.
In 2022, 17.3% of all new cars sold were 100% electric, while 8% were plug-in hybrid electric models, which feature electric and fuel engines. This represents a 5% overall increase compared to 2021.
According to the association’s latest figures, around half of all newly registered vehicles still have just combustion engines – 37.8% were petrol-driven, while 11.7% were

Read More »

Switzerland could hit the 9 million population mark

26 days ago

People walking through the city centre of the Swiss capital, Bern © Keystone / Christian Beutler

The Swiss population is set to surpass the 9 million mark in 2023, according to calculations by the SonntagsZeitung.
“If the permanent and non-permanent resident population are added together, Switzerland is likely to exceed the threshold of nine million inhabitants this year,” the newspaper wrote on Sunday.
Since the introduction of the free movement of people with the European Union (EU), the Swiss population has grown twice as fast as that of France or the United Kingdom – and twenty times faster than that of Germany, due to high levels of immigration. The reasons behind this: Switzerland’s high quality of life and flourishing economy, the paper said.
There will

Read More »

Switzerland in 2023: New year, new laws

26 days ago

Legal cases: Passengers can now claim more compensation for delayed or lost luggage Keystone / Alessandro Crinari

From getting a drone licence to paying for Covid tests, here’s a selection of ten legal tweaks that came into force in Switzerland on January 1.
AIRLINES: Passengers can claim more compensation for delayed or lost luggage – up to around CHF1,640 ($1,770). Previously it was CHF1,520. The tedious paperwork hasn’t changed, however.
INHERITANCE LAW: Testators are more free to dispose of their estate as they wish than before. Previously, parents had to leave three-quarters of the legal share of their inheritance to their children; now it’s only half. Going in the other direction, children no longer have to leave a certain amount to their parents.

Read More »

Companies invest more money in R&D in Switzerland

December 20, 2022

Syngenta employees carry out research on corn in Stein, canton Aargau, in November 2021. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
Firms invested CHF16.8 billion ($18 billion) in research and development (R&D) activities in Switzerland last year, a 4% increase compared to 2019.
A survey carried out by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) and the Swiss Business Federation economiesuisse said the pharmaceutical sector was the biggest R&D investor (CHF6.2 billion, or 37% of the total).
The overall CHF1.3 billion rise since 2019 was in line with a recent upward trend, but it is all the more remarkable given the difficult economic situations in 2020 and 2021 caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, the FSO said in a statement on Monday.
Fundamental research fell from around one quarter of

Read More »

Price manipulation to be banned in Swiss energy sector

December 20, 2022

Switzerland plans to enact laws to prevent price manipulation and insider trading in its domestic energy markets.
Energy Minister Simonetta Sommaruga unveiled the plans on Friday, saying the reforms are needed to secure Switzerland’s energy security.
The proposed reforms would force energy companies to open their books to the energy regulator Elcom to give the authorities early warnings of supply problems.
Insider trading and price manipulations are currently allowed in the Swiss energy market, but these practices will be prohibited in future.
The move comes after the government approved measures to grant energy companies bridging loans to overcome financial difficulties.
In return, companies must submit to tighter regulatory scrutiny, Sommaruga said.
This would

Read More »

Growth forecasts for Switzerland lowered further

December 20, 2022

Buildings near Kyiv destroyed by a Russian airstrike on December 14. The war in Ukraine is one factor weighing down the Swiss economy. Keystone / Oleg Petrasyuk
Growth forecasts for Switzerland have been revised downwards for the current year and 2023 by the KOF Swiss Economic Institute, amid fears of a global recession and the war in Ukraine. The economists also changed their predictions for inflation.
The KOF Consensus Forecast expects gross domestic product (GDP) to grow by 1.9% this year, compared with the figure of 2.2% it gave in October. For 2023, GDP should grow by 0.7%, down from the previous prediction of 1%, the research centre of the federal technology institute ETH Zurich said in a statement on Monday.
Inflation is expected to be 2.9% in 2022 and 2.3%

Read More »

Swiss defy inflation to splash out on Christmas gifts

December 19, 2022

Christmas shoppers on Zurich’s Bahnhofstrasse © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Swiss consumers have budgeted more for Christmas presents this year despite the growing spectre of inflation.
The average shopper plans to splash out CHF343 ($367) on presents, up CHF9 from the average spend in 2021.
The cost of consumer goods has risen around 3% in recent months, which is well below the inflation rate of other countries but still above the 2% target set by the Swiss National Bank (SNB).
The SNB has raised interest rates three times this year in an effort to curb inflation, most recently on December 15. The central bank expects annual inflation to weigh in at 2.9% by the year’s end.
However, a survey by consultancy group EY shows that this is having little impact on

Read More »

How the Swiss extract gold from rubbish

December 16, 2022

Switzerland is the global leader in metal recycling, a lucrative business that attracts international interest. We visit a pioneering Swiss waste disposal and recycling plant with a delegation from Japan.

Thomas Kern was born in Switzerland in 1965. Trained as a photographer in Zürich, he started working as a photojournalist in 1989. He was a founder of the Swiss photographers agency Lookat Photos in 1990. Thomas Kern has won twice a World Press Award and has been awarded several Swiss national scholarships. His work has been widely exhibited and it is represented in various collections.
More from this author
| Multimedia

Daniel Böni reaches into the container. “There is always something,” he says and pulls out three boule balls. “This one would be too

Read More »

‘Just another cheque’: Saudi National Bank’s move into Credit Suisse

December 15, 2022

When Credit Suisse asked its board member Michael Klein to find capital to help its painful restructuring push, the former Citibank executive with ties in the Middle East ended up in a series of meetings with a powerful Saudi bank little known outside the Gulf.
Klein, who is also taking over Credit Suisse’s spun-off investment bank, walked away with a $1.5 billion (CHF1.4 billion) cheque.
As recessions deepen in the west, some are looking at the investment by the Saudi National Bank as a harbinger of more outlays to come, as oil-rich states echo bailouts during the financial crisis more than 10 years ago.
But a month after the deal with Credit Suisse was announced, the chair of the SNB — whose biggest shareholder is the sovereign Public Investment Fund,

Read More »

Holcim divests cement business in Russia

December 15, 2022

Keystone / Ennio Leanza

Swiss cement giant Holcim said on Wednesday it would leave Russia, adding that the business there would then operate independently under a different brand.
Holcim has signed an agreement to sell its Russian unit to the local management team, it said in a statement on Wednesday.
The sale will have “no significant impact” on the world’s biggest cement maker, as the unit generated less than 1% of the group’s net sales in 2021, it said. Holcim said in March that it employed 1,000 people in Russia with three sites specialising in the production of cement.
The group first deconsolidated its Russian unit and announced it would leave the country in March, following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The company initially kept its operations running,

Read More »

Swiss food giant Nestlé to open new factory in war-torn Ukraine

December 14, 2022

Nestlé plans to create about 1,500 additional jobs in Ukraine. Keystone/Laurent Gillieron

The Swiss multinational Nestlé says it will invest CHF40 million ($42. million) to launch a new production facility in western Ukraine.
The world largest food and beverage company is one of very few international companies to announce new investments in Ukraine since Russia invaded the country in February.
A senior Nestlé manager described it as a important move in a challenging situation for Ukraine.
“We aim to create a food and culinary hub, ensuring incremental jobs and serving the needs of Ukrainians and all European citizens with high quality products,”  said Alessandro Zanelli, Nestlé CEO for the south eastern European markets.
Russia’s invasion has wrecked

Read More »

New Swiss rail timetable expands offer to tourist regions

December 13, 2022

The GoldenPass Express direct line now allows passengers to travel from Montreux on Lake Geneva to Interlaken in the Bernese Oberland without changing trains. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer

Swiss Federal Railways has launched a new timetable, which offers more regional services and direct links between eastern and western Switzerland, and additional connections to popular tourist regions.
From Sunday, trains run every two hours directly between Romanshorn, in canton Thurgau, and Interlaken, in canton Bern. Basel and Olten, in canton Solothurn, also benefit from additional direct connections to canton Valais.
Two direct trains will connect French-speaking Switzerland with Chur in canton Graubünden in southeast Switzerland every weekend. The GoldenPass Express line

Read More »