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‘Over 99% of business companies are SMEs in Switzerland’Free larbor market, excellent infrastructure, world’s 6th highest integrity rating

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of its founding, The Korea Post Media (publisher of English and Korean Internet and print publications) in the New Year, it publishes the national plan of each country in both the English and Korean Internet dailies as well as in its English print monthly. Switzerland is a target of envy among many Koreans for its high transparency rating in the world and the concomitant high per-capital GNI. She is the sixth highest in transparency in the world and fifth in per-capital GNI with US$84,000. Here are details a New Year interview with Ambassador Joerg AloisReding of Switzerland in Seoul.?Ed.

▲President Simonetta Sommaruga of the Swiss Confederation (photo: FDJP, Sebastian Magnani)

Question: What is estimated economic growth of your country for 2015?
Answer:
2.1%.Relatively favorable economic prospects in a risky environment. The Swiss economy continued to grow during 2014. Nevertheless, over the recent months sentiment indicators have been signaling increased uncertainty about further economic prospects. Assuming that the Euro Zone continues its gradual recovery, the Federal Government’s Expert Group on Economic Forecasts expects for 2015/16 a slight pick-up in growth from 1.8% in 2014 to 2.1% in 2015 and 2.4% in 2016.
The improvement in the economy should also extend to the labor market, enabling the unemployment rate to fall from an annual average of 3.2% in 2014 to 3.0% in 2015 and 2.8% in 2016.
However, there are still considerable risks to this economic outlook. Both the risk of setbacks in the recovery of some regions and the uncertainty surrounding the relation between Switzerland and the EU could have negative effects on the outlook for 2015 and 2016.

Q: Which industrial areas are expected to be most active?
A: All.

Q: What are your main exports to Korea?
A:Machines, pharmaceuticals, chemical products, medical equipment and watches.

Q: Do you have any important economic development plan?
A:As a small country, Switzerland is an export-oriented country with a very diversified economy covering multiple sectors in the merchandise industry and in the service segments.
The Swiss industry is dominated by small and medium size enterprises that represent more than 99% of the total number of companies. Switzerland is also recognized as one of the most advanced and innovative countries where leading world industries choose to set up their business headquarters in Europe. By doing so they can benefit from the excellent infrastructure, skills of the highly educated labor force and a liberal labor framework.
Swiss exports mainly consist of chemical and pharmaceutical products, machines and precision machinery as well as wristwatches. In 2013 total exports to Korea amounted to about USD 2.5 billion while imports were approximately USD 650 million. The Free Trade Agreement concluded in 2006 between Korea and EFTA (including Switzerland) has also benefitted the two countries’ bilateral trade relations.

Q: Which industries are best fit for the prospective Korean businesses to invest in Switzerland?
A:Benefitting from an ideal investment environment, over one thousand international companies did set up in Switzerland their European or even World Headquarter. They cover all segments in the industrial or service sectors.

▲Photo shows President Park Geun-hye in red coat with the then President Didier Burkhalter of Switzerland on her left and Ambassador Joerg Alois Reding of Switzerland on the right on the occasion of her state visit to Switzerland in January 2014.

Q: Who are the Swiss companies actively operating in Korea?
A:More than 100 Swiss companies are currently active in the Republic of Korea mainly by exporting their products but many of the large Swiss companies have also established factories in Korea. Some of these larger companies include: ABB in the power and machinery sector, Roche and Novartis in the pharmaceutical industry, Syngenta in the agricultural sector and Nestle in the foods sector. Also, the service industry is well represented in Korea with its major banks (UBS, Credit Suisse) or insurance companies (SwissRe).
In 2010 Switzerland Global Enterprise (a similar organization to KOTRA in Korea) opened a Swiss Business Hub (SBH), which is integrated with the Swiss Embassy in Seoul. The main task of the SBH is to provide support to Swiss companies that wish to enter or to expand their activities in the Korean market. The SBH also provides to Korean companies with general information on the Swiss economy. It offers information on the Swiss investment environment and supports Korean companies interested in setting up European headquarters or R&D centers in Switzerland. The Swiss Embassy also incorporates a Science & technology Office; it is the knowledge hub linking Swiss and Korean universities, research institutes, companies and start-ups. It also supports the creation of networks, partnership and collaboration efforts between Swiss and Korean scientists, researchers, entrepreneurs and students. Furthermore the Science & Technology department assists Swiss universities, research institutes, companies and start-ups in building-up R&D and educational partnerships with Korean institutions. These organizations can be reached with the following e-mail addresses:Swiss Business Hub Korea: seosbh@eda.admin.ch. Science & technology Office: seo.science@eda.admin.ch

Q: Who are the Korean small-medium enterprises presently active in your country?
A:Korean companies are successfully operating from Switzerland, for example in the chemical or IT sectors. More and more companies are now evaluating the possibility of setting up in Switzerland a legal entity from which they can steer their European operations.

Q: Do you have economic-business delegations scheduled to visit to Korea in the New Year?
A:Every year a number of Swiss delegations visit Korea to learn about the business environment and to look for potential business opportunities. Also in 2015 some are considering fact-finding missions in various sectors.

Q: Any cultural events in Korea?
A: Yes. The schedules are as follows:
Symphony Orchestra Basel, Tongyeong International Music Festival: 27/28 March 2015
Das Neue Z?rcher Orchester, tour of Korea: April/May 2015
Gwangju Summer Universiade, cultural event ? inauguration: 2-14July 2015
Youth Symphony Orchestra Z?rich, tour of Korea: 3-17 Oct. 2015
Partnership Ballet Basel & Seoul Ballet Theatre: Oct. 2015

Q: Please briefly introduce your Head of Government.
A:The Swiss Government (Executive) consists of the seven members of the Federal Council.
The President of the Swiss Confederation is elected for a one-year term, during which she or he is considered as being ?primus inter pares?, i.e., the first among equals. The President chairs the meetings of the Federal Council and assumes special representational duties. In 2015, the office of President is being held by Ms. Simonetta Sommaruga.
Ms. Sommaruga was born in a hospital in Zug on 14 May 1960. She grew up in Sins in Freiamt, a region in the southeast of the canton of Aargau. After obtaining her high school leaving certificate, she attended the Lucerne Academy of Music where she studied to become a concert pianist. After travelling widely across the world, she continued her pianist and educational career at the Fribourg Academy of Music.
Simonetta Sommaruga was manager of the Swiss Consumer Protection Foundation from 1993 to 1999 and president of the foundation from 2000 to 2010. She served as a local councillor to the municipal government of K?niz from 1997 to 2005, heading the fire brigade and civil protection departments.In 1999, Simonetta Sommaruga was elected to the National Council of Switzerland and in 2003 to the Council of States where she represented the canton of Bern until 2010. She was on the Council of States Committee for Economic Affairs and Taxes, on the Committee for Social Security and Health, and served as vice-president of the Committee for Environment, Spatial Planning and Energy. She was also vice-president of the Swiss Delegation to the Committee of Members of Parliament of the EFTA Countries and for Relations with the European Parliament (DelEFTA/EP).The United Federal Assembly elected Simonetta Sommaruga as federal councillor on 22 September 2010. She has been head of the Federal Department of Justice and Police since 1 November 2010.On 3 December 2014, the Federal Assembly elected Simonetta Sommaruga as President of the Swiss Confederation for 2015.Mrs. Sommaruga is married to the writer Lukas Hartmann. In the winter she devotes her free moments to playing the piano and reading books of fiction. In summer, she loves spending time in her garden and hiking in the mountains.

Q: What is the view of your Head of Government concerning Korea?
A:Since the establishment of diplomatic relations over 50 years ago,the Swiss and the Korean Government have maintained excellent relations in many fields; these relations have been enhanced through the State Visit of President Park in Switzerland in 2014.

About Ambassador J?rgAloisReding of Switzerland:
Ambassador J?rgAloisReding, a Swiss citizen, was born in 1951 and grew up in the central part ofSwitzerland (Zug and Schwyz). His formal education took place in Switzerland, Canada and Brazil.
Hegraduated with degrees in economics from the University of St.Gallen, Switzerland and from SimonFraser University, Vancouver, Canada.
Prior to joining the Swiss Administration as a foreign trade diplomat in 1981, he was an editor oneconomic issues for a Swiss daily newspaper, worked for a manufacturing and trading company inThailand and went through military officer-training in the Swiss army.
During his over 30 years career for the Swiss Administration his main activities have been on trade andeconomic development issues. As Ambassador-at-large from 1999 until his appointment as Ambassador
to Singapore in September 2008, he was delegate of the Swiss Government for Trade Agreements,Governor for the Asian Development Bank, African Development Bank, Inter-American DevelopmentBank and MIGA/World Bank and Chairman of Switzerland’s bilateral economic commissions.
Since fall2012 he serves as Swiss Ambassador to the Republic of South Korea.
Outside of Switzerland he has lived and worked for many years in Brazil, Canada, Thailand, the Ivory Coast, South Africa, Singapore and Korea; he has travelled and led trade missions to over 130 countrieson all continents. He speaks German, French, English and Portuguese

이경식 기자  edt@koreapost.com

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