Wednesday , June 29 2022
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 plans more flight cancellations into autumn

2 days ago

Lufthansa, the German parent company of SWISS international airlines, does not expect operations to return to normal until 2023. © Keystone / Christian Beutler
Additional cancellations of SWISS flights are “unavoidable” because of staff shortages, a company spokesperson told the Keystone-SDA news agency on Sunday.
Scheduled flights between August and October would be affected by the latest announcement, which was originally reported by the news portal blick.ch. It follows news earlier in June that 2% of 18,500 SWISS flights planned for July and August would be cancelled.
“Further cancellations are unfortunately unavoidable in the coming months due to resource constraints and operational challenges across the airline industry,” said the spokesperson. The

Read More »

Switzerland details revenue split for global corporate tax rate

4 days ago

Switzerland, home to many big multinationals, has an average corporation tax rate of just under 15%, but some of its individual low-tax cantons such as Zug (in photo) have lower rates again. Keystone / Alessandro Della Bella
Switzerland will implement from 2024 the minimum tax rate for large multinational firms under a global tax deal. The federal government will get a quarter and regional and local authorities three-quarters of revenue, it said on Thursday, outlining how the deal would be implemented.
“Based on the results of consultations, the Confederation should receive 25% of the receipts from the supplementary tax and use the funds for the benefit of Switzerland as a business location. The remaining 75% will go to the cantons and municipalities,” the finance

Read More »

Alpine rail tunnel and suburban train services to get boost

5 days ago

The first tube of the Lötschberg base railway tunnel was built between 1999 and 2007. Keystone/ Martin Ruetschi
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.
The Lötschberg tunnel, linking the Bernese Oberland and the Valais regions, is part of a major north-south transalpine rail line to Italy. The base tunnel was opened in 2007, but only one tube was completed.
The 35km-tunnel was built primarily to ease heavyweight road transport on Swiss roads, but completion of the second tube was put off for

Read More »

Switzerland to ease exchange of Ukrainian currency in line with EU

6 days ago

Keystone/Georgios Kefalas
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.
The regulation is due to come into force next Monday, according to the State Secretariat for International FinanceExternal link.
The plan to permit the exchange of cash was agreed between the finance ministry, the Swiss National BankExternal link and the two main commercial banks.
A similar programme has been proposed by the European Union and has already been implemented in Germany,

Read More »

Long shadow of Russian money raises tricky questions for Swiss bankers

8 days ago

‘You don’t have dozens and dozens of people employed on your Russia desks if you are not making money in Russia,’ says one senior private banker in Switzerland Keystone / Yuri Kochetkov
January used to be a big month for Swiss bankers and their Russian clients. Many of the Moscow elite had made a tradition of coming to the Alps for the orthodox new year, skiing with their families, then catching up with their financial consiglieri.
In St Moritz, one banker recalls how he would book blocks of rooms for his clients. He would entertain them with snow polo, rolling out the charm as they clinked champagne glasses and watched horses charge across a frozen lake. This year he couldn’t tempt a single one.
For the best part of a decade, Russian money has coursed through the

Read More »

Swiss lower economic growth forecasts due to war and inflation

13 days ago

SECO lowered this year’s GDP growth forecast from 2.8% (in March) to 2.6%. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
The Swiss Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has downgraded its economic growth forecast for 2022 to 2.6% due to the war in Ukraine and uncertainties in China.
“The Swiss economy made a solid start to the year, but prospects for the international environment have waned,” SECO saidExternal link on Wednesday. “In particular, the global economy is at risk from the war in Ukraine and developments in China.”
“The war in Ukraine could have a more severe impact than previously expected,” it added.
SECO lowered this year’s GDP growth forecast from 2.8% (in March) to 2.6%. This was also partly due to rising prices for food and energy, it said.
It also cut its forecast

Read More »

Ukraine war forces Swiss business to make choices on neutrality

13 days ago

Zurich’s Kunsthaus, where the Bührle collection is a reminder of the moral hazards of neutrality. © Keystone / Walter Bieri
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.
It was assembled by Emil Bührle, the Swiss industrialist and arms maker who coined his millions selling weapons. To the Nazis. And to the Allies. Now, of course, the Bührle legacy needs some deft explaining. A museum within the museum – that

Read More »

Foreign suitors for Credit Suisse face high hurdles

14 days ago

State Street denied the Credit Suisse takeover rumours last week. © Keystone / Walter Bieri
Switzerland’s typically liberal mergers and acquisitions market might make an exception for such a national institution.
There are few statues of heroes in downtown Zurich. But of those that exist, by far the grandest is that of Credit Suisse’s founder, Alfred Escher.
It is hard to imagine a foreign acquirer buying such a national institution, though Credit Suisse’s shares rose sharply on Wednesday after a post on the Inside Paradeplatz blog suggested US-based State Street was planning a takeover bid. State Street later denied the story.
On paper, a foreign acquisition of the embattled bank should be possible. “The current set-up is an open market with very limited

Read More »

US tax authority asks Switzerland for client data from 26 institutions

14 days ago

The requests for administrative assistance concern bank accounts of US clients who had not previously given their consent to the handing over of their account data © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
The US tax authority IRS wants further information from the Swiss authorities on account data at 26 financial institutions. The IRS has made numerous requests for information in the past.
The requests for administrative assistance concern bank accounts of US clients who had not previously given their consent to the handing over of their account data by the Swiss institutions to the US authorities, as can be seen from the notices of the Federal Tax AdministrationExternal link published on Tuesday.
The Swiss banks had reported the data of these clients to the IRS only in

Read More »

Trafigura posts record half-year profit as commodities volatility intensifies

15 days ago

A Russian soldier guards an area of the Mariupol Sea Port in eastern Ukraine. Following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, commodity prices have soared and trade flows have been redrawn. Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.
Geneva-based Trafigura reported record half-year profits as volatility and disruption in commodity markets, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine, supercharged earnings for the world’s biggest traders.
The group’s net profit for the six months to the end of March was $2.7 billion (CHF2.68 billion), up 27% from last year, with the company trading a record volume of oil and metals, its two key divisions.
The results offer the first glimpse of how some of the largest commodity traders have fared as a result of soaring

Read More »

Tax on airline tickets wins sky-high public support

16 days ago

Almost half of respondents backed a levy of CHF30 for short-haul flights and CHF120 for long-haul flights Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi
Almost three-quarters (72%) of respondents to a Swiss survey are in favour of increasing the price of airline tickets for climate reasons.
In the event of an introduction, 42% of respondents back a levy of CHF30 ($30.40) for short-haul flights and CHF120 for long-haul flights; 50% agreed with higher charges. Younger people were more sceptical, with most tending towards the lowest possible tax.
The representative survey was conducted among roughly 1,000 people by market research institute GfS Zurich and published by the NZZ am Sonntag newspaperExternal link. It was commissioned by the environmental organisation Umverkehr.
It found

Read More »

Hotel booking platforms to face legal restrictions

17 days ago

Booking.com says it levies a 12% fee on reservations made over its online platform for a variety of services including promotion. © Keystone/Gaetan Bally
Parliament has approved restrictions on online reservation platforms to protect the Swiss hotel sector.
Senators on Wednesday came out in favour of a legal reform to fight unfair competition.
In line with the House of Representatives, the Senate approved proposals to allow hotel websites to undercut prices and other conditions offered by booking platforms.
Supporters said the reform would help smaller hotels in Switzerland against increasing international competitors, including the market leader, booking.com.
Opponents tried to thwart the amendment, saying the restrictions were not justified and hampered

Read More »

Credit Suisse pushed for spyware sales at NSO despite US blacklisting

18 days ago

The United States blacklisted NSO in November 2021 over the abuse of the powerful Pegasus cyberweapon by its clients. Keystone / Atef Safadi
Credit Suisse pushed for NSO Group to keep selling its Pegasus spyware to new customers just weeks after the US blacklisted the Israeli cyberweapon manufacturer, saying authoritarian regimes had used its hacking tool to silence dissent.
The request was made in a December letter by lawyers representing the Swiss bank and some of its fellow NSO creditors including the hedge fund Senator, as well as the US investment bank Jefferies in its capacity as the overseer of a loan to NSO.
It came after revelations about how Pegasus had been used to hack the phones of journalists, activists and even the estranged wife of Dubai’s

Read More »

Switzerland wants to play key role in rebuilding Ukraine

19 days ago

Swiss President Ignazio Cassis at the 51st annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, WEF, in Davos, Switzerland, on May 24, 2022. © Keystone / Laurent Gillieron
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.
International support for the reform process in Ukraine predates the war. In recent years partner countries have come together and taken turns hosting regular conferences to review developments in a range of areas, from banking to digital transformation, triggered by the 2013 Maidan Revolution.
The 5th Ukraine Reform

Read More »

Sustainable investments boom in Switzerland

20 days ago

The most important sustainable themes in 2021 were energy, social concerns and environmental issues. Keystone / Laurent Gillieron
The volume of sustainable investments in Switzerland increased by almost a third last year, reaching an all-time high of CHF1.98 trillion ($2 trillion).
This continuing growth – the rate is almost the same as last year – is mainly due to the increased use of sustainable investment approaches and the overall positive market development in 2021, according to the authors of the latest market studyExternal link published on Thursday by Swiss Sustainable Finance (SSF). The study was conducted in cooperation with the University of Zurich.
According to the study, at CHF799.5 billion, sustainable funds account for just over half of the total

Read More »

Oerlikon to sell Russia business to local owners

24 days ago

Swiss industrial firm Oerlikon has announced that it will hand over ownership of its business in Russia to local management.
In a brief statementExternal link 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.
On March 4, the Swiss firm ceased all international cross-border business activities with Russia following its invasion of Ukraine. It called the sale the “final step” in ceasing all business activities within Russia.
The company employs 48 people in Russia at six sites. The cost of the transaction has not been disclosed. Last year, Oerlikon’s sales in the country

Read More »

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

25 days ago

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.
There’s no denying that the world is gripped by multiple crises. There’s also no denying that not everyone is affected by these crises in the same way. “There is a growing divergence between those who have the capacity to deal with problems and those who don’t,” said International Monetary Fund chief Kristalina Georgieva on a panel in Davos.
This divergence was on display in Davos. For all

Read More »

Swiss set aside CHF100 million in Ukraine development funding

26 days ago

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.
On top of this, various other ministries have sent development aid to the region directly or indirectly, the Keystone-SDA news agency reports: Swiss migration authorities contributed CHF6 million to help refugees in Poland, while the economics ministry has given CHF20 million to multilateral projects coordinated by the World Bank.
As for the SDC, Danzi said that the

Read More »

Swiss block re-export of armoured vehicles to Ukraine

27 days ago

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.
SECO said the ban was in line with Switzerland’s policy of neutrality of not supplying arms to conflict zones, according to SRF.
Neutral Switzerland requires foreign countries that buy Swiss arms to seek permission to re-export them.
In April it vetoed the re-export of Swiss-made ammunition used in anti-aircraft tanks that Germany is sending to Ukraine.
Pressure
However, the government is facing increasing pressure to review its policy. Politicians

Read More »

China stalling on trade talks with Switzerland, say papers

29 days ago

Switzerland wants to update its 2014 free trade agreement with China, but Beijing refuses to talk, owing to criticism of its human rights record, report the NZZ am Sonntag and SonntagsBlick newspapers.
Bern wants to reduce customs duties for more Swiss products and introduce sustainability aspects into the agreement, but Beijing has been refusing to talk since 2018, writes the NZZ am Sonntag. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) confirmed to the paper that Beijing has refused to talk even about a joint list of topics.
This is bad news for Swiss industry, as China is Switzerland’s third largest market for its exports after Germany and the US, it writes.
Experts say the Chinese stalling is a response to growing criticism of its human rights record in

Read More »

Swiss supermarket products for children have too much sugar

May 30, 2022

The overwhelming majority of products with packaging designed to appeal to children contain too much sugar, salt or fat, report Le Matin Dimanche and SonntagsZeitung newspapers.
This is according to a survey conducted around Easter by the consumer organisation Fédération romande de consommateurs (FRC) and its counterparts in the German and Italian-speaking parts of Switzerland.
These consumer groups analysed 344 goods targeting children aged over three years sold in supermarkets Coop, Migros, Aldi and Lidl. Chocolate bunnies and chicks were not included.
They found that 94% of the products surveyed did not meet World Health Organization (WHO) norms, mostly because of too much sugar (277 products).
“We know that sweets contain sugar, but many packets have nice

Read More »

Ukraine war hits supplies of food packaging material

May 30, 2022

Switzerland is considering emergency stockpiling of plastic packaging as the Ukraine war brings a world shortage of packaging material, reports the NZZ am Sonntag.
Up to now the government has only stockpiled plastic to be able to produce disinfectant bottles. “With the experiences from the pandemic as well as the changed availabilities and strong price developments, the needs are being reviewed,” the Federal Office for National Economic SupplyExternal link confirmed to the paper.
The Ukraine war is causing a meteoric rise in prices for aluminium, tinplate and various types of plastic, reports the NZZ am Sonntag. Switzerland is highly dependent on foreign countries for packaging, and this is a problem in an emergency because unpackaged products can spoil before

Read More »

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

May 27, 2022

In canton Zug in central Switzerland, the richest 10% earn almost half of all income and provide 88% of all cantonal tax revenue. Keystone / Urs Flueeler
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.
What level of social inequality is acceptable? When does this become a risk for society? For years politicians, economists and sociologists around the world have been asking these same questions – without any clear answers.
In Switzerland, the political left has repeatedly attempted to impose higher

Read More »

Swiss seek cooperation with US on cyber security defence

May 16, 2022

A major conference on cyber security took place in Switzerland last month with participants from the US government. © Keystone/Anthony Anex
Defence Minister Viola Amherd has held talks with United States government representatives on international security cooperation.
Amherd said the Russian invasions of Ukraine made it clear that Switzerland should seek closer cooperation, including the US, she told a news conference in Washington on Friday.
But she reiterated that neutral Switzerland had not plans of joining the 28-member NATO alliance.
She was addressing the media following a meeting with the US deputy defence minister, Kathleen Hicks.
The talks also covered security concerns caused by climate change and promoting participation of women in the armed forces.

Read More »

Swiss remain divided over 5G rollout

May 13, 2022

The Swiss government is committed to the rapid expansion of a 5G network. © Keystone / Peter Klaunzer
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.
Some 42.5% of adults support this strategy, but 41.7% are against, suggests a survey of 1,023 people commissioned by price comparison website Comparis.
The divided nature of public opinion on this contentious subject is largely unchanged from a previous survey last yearExternal link by the Federal Institute of Technology ETH Zurich.
Opponents fear that radiation leaking from

Read More »

Stop organic farming to help future food crisis, says Syngenta boss

May 9, 2022

Organic farming yields can be up to 50% lower than non-organic farming, depending on the product, claimed the Syngenta CEO. © Keystone / Peter Schneider
Erik Fyrwald, the CEO of the Swiss agrochemicals group Syngenta, has called for an end to organic farming to avoid a worsening food crisis. The president of the Swiss Small Farmers’ Association meanwhile dismissed his arguments as “grotesque”.
Rich countries should increase their agricultural production in order to prevent a global food crisis, Fyrwald told the NZZ am Sonntag newspaper in an interview on Sunday. Organic farming yields can be up to 50% lower than non-organic farming, depending on the product, he claimed.
“The indirect consequence is that people are starving in Africa because we are eating more and

Read More »

Swiss central bank rejects ‘creative’ demands to change course

May 6, 2022

The Swiss National Bank is not prepared to release any further reserves. Keystone / Martin Ruetschi
The Swiss National Bank (SNB) continues to beat off demands to fight inflation by raising interest rates and to distribute more reserves to cantons and other causes.
SNB president Barbara Janom Steiner showed signs of frustration in a speech on Friday that defended the policies of the central bank.
“There are ever more varied proposals – and indeed, increasingly, demands – for potential uses to which the SNB’s assets or profits might be put,” she saidExternal link. “There is understandably no limit to the creativity exhibited by the authors of such proposals. I believe, however, that it would be anything but a good idea to meet these demands.”
At present, the Swiss

Read More »

Historians trace Elon Musk’s Swiss roots to Emmental

May 5, 2022

Elon Musk’s maternal side of the family can be traced back to villages in the Emmental region of Switzerland. Keystone / Patrick Pleul
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.
There are few images as quintessentially Swiss as the green pastures, farmhouses and distinctive holey cheese in the Emmental region in Canton Bern. According to researchExternal link by the SonntagsZeitung, the ancestors of the world’s richest man, Elon Musk, come from this area.
Maye Musk, Elon Musk’s mother, was born Maye Haldeman on April 19, 1948 in Canada. In her

Read More »

Covid loan claims fuel rise in suspected fraud cases

May 4, 2022

There have been some 1,700 cases of suspected Covid-19 loan frauds reported since the start of the pandemic. © Keystone / Ennio Leanza
The number of reported suspicious financial transactions continued to rise in Switzerland in 2021, but at a lower rate than in the first year of the pandemic.
Switzerland’s Money Laundering Reporting Office (MROS) saw a 12% increase of suspicious activity reports last year to reach 5,962.
For the second year in a row, a significant number of these detailed suspected fraudulent claims for loans offered to businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic.
MROS said on Monday that it had received 1,700 such reports, involving CHF230 million ($236 million) of claims, since the start of the pandemic. Several thousand more suspected coronavirus

Read More »

Rising prices put pressure on Swiss consumers and industry

May 3, 2022

“Households are feeling the strain as prices continue to rise,” SECO said on Monday. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally
Consumers in Switzerland are much more pessimistic about the general economic situation, with households feeling the strain as prices continue to rise, a new survey shows.
April data published by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) on Monday shows that overall consumer sentiment has deteriorated “significantly” in recent months.
The consumer sentiment index for last month fell by 27 points, from -3.8 points in January, marking the biggest decline since the onset of the pandemic in the spring of 2020, SECO said.
“Households are feeling the strain as prices continue to rise,” SECO said. Swiss households are particularly pessimistic about how

Read More »