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Swiss President seeks closer finance and trade ties under China’s BRI
By:Wang Jiaye  |  From:english.eastday.com  |  2019-04-26 10:05

Swiss President Ueli Maurer arrived in Shanghai on April 23 on the first stop of his week-long China tour, accompanied by a finance and business delegation.

At the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping, Mr. Maurer will pay a state visit on April 28 and 29, during which China and Switzerland will sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on cooperation with third markets under the Belt and Road Initiative. Maurer will also attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing.

In 2017, Maurer visited China as Head of the Swiss Federal Department of Finance. Daniela Stoffel, State Secretariat for International Finance, Federal Department of Finance, said, “It is time to harvest what he sowed two years ago.”

Swiss President Ueli Maurer (Center) attended the media conference in Shanghai on the evening of April 23. (Photo provided by the Consulate General of Switzerland in Shanghai)

Switzerland expects to be a field test for Chinese enterprises to enter western markets

Switzerland was one of the first western states to recognize the then newly founded People’s Republic of China. Next year will thus mark the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Switzerland.

President Maurer summed up the purpose of his trip as “meeting friends and deepening cooperation” at the media conference.

“We welcome the measures China has taken to open up to the outside world and hope that cooperation between China and Switzerland in the economic, trade and financial fields will be further strengthened”, he stated, noting that “Switzerland expects to become a field test and pioneer station for Chinese enterprises to enter the western market.”

Maurer delivers a speech at the media conference. (Photo provided by the Consulate General of Switzerland in Shanghai)

Switzerland was the first country in continental Europe to conclude a free trade agreement with China. China is Switzerland’s largest trade partner after the EU and the USA. In 2016, the two sides agreed to define their bilateral relations as an “Innovative Strategic Partnership”. Chinese President Xi Jinping paid a state visit to Switzerland at the beginning of 2017.

Herbert Julius Scheidt, President of the Swiss Banking Association, said that China's rapid development in the financial sector has been astonishing, especially in financial technology and asset management, where Switzerland is very glad to cooperate with China.

China and Switzerland have different advantages. Switzerland is excellent in quality, safety and stability while China performs well in new technologies and data analysis, said Scheidt, expressing the hope to cooperate with Chinese banks and technology companies to provide customers with diversified products through financial technology.

Financial cooperation in the spotlight during Shanghai tour

President Maurer began his hectic schedule in Shanghai without a single halt after landing at 8 a.m. on April 23. The media conference scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. was slightly delayed. The president explained in good humor, “I’m sorry we are late, and well, this happens to be Swatch, a watchmaker.” (The conference was held at the Swatch Art Peace Hotel.)

Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang meets Swiss President Ueli Maureron April 23. (Photo by Shanghai Fabu, the Wechat account of the Information Office of Shanghai Municipal)

Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang met President Maureron his first day. Li invited Swiss enterprises to take an active part in the second China International Import Expo in Shanghai and showcase a wide range of excellent Swiss products and services.

Maurer also witnessed the signing of a MoU for cooperation between the Shanghai Stock Exchange and its counterpart in Switzerland, the SIX Swiss Exchange.

Romeo Lacher, President of SIX Group AG, said that the two sides have been engaged in discussions on the possibility that companies listed in either bourse would be allowed to be traded on the other.

The signing ceremony of the MoU between the Shanghai Stock Exchange and Six Swiss Exchange (Photo by Shanghai Stock Exchange)

Also on the schedule, Maurer and the delegation visited China Pacific Insurance Group (CPIC) and Shanghai Pudong Development Bank (SPDB), and attended a financial technology forum in Shanghai.

MoU on closer third-market BRI ties to be signed

President Maurer will also attend the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation in Beijing on April 26 and 27. Switzerland will be represented at the Belt and Road Forum for the second time and is thereby supporting the effort made by the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to develop relations between Asia and Europe.

A Memorandum of Understanding is expected to be signed during Maurer’s state visit. Its aim is for both parties to intensify cooperation on trade, investment and project financing in third markets along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) routes. The text of the Memorandum will be published after the signing.

Romeo Lacher explained that Switzerland attaches importance to the sustainability of resources and the environment. The MoU will mainly coordinate the norms for the two sides in cooperation in the third markets along the BRI.