Sino-Swiss Business News
Switzerland has the most environmentally sound tourism record, according to a global comparison study by the World Economic Forum (WEF). The study ranks the alpine country as the 10th most “competitive” holiday location overall against a broad range of criteria. The WEF ‘Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report’, conducted every two years, ranks 140 countries on their relative strengths in global tourism and travel. In 2018, it found Switzerland’s attention to environmental standards in the sector to be top of class. The study makes specific mention of Switzerland’s waste water treatment system and the country’s impressive record in the category “environmental regulatory enforcement and stringency”. Switzerland is also rated as one of the safest places in the world to visit and achieves high marks for its competitive business environment, low taxes and wealth of highly skilled workforce.
Swiss Bühler Group and Premier Tech from Canada, announced the formation of a strategic cooperation for industrial flexible packaging solutions. Both companies agreed to build a design and manufacturing center in China. “Combining the portfolio and expertise of Premier Tech and Bühler will enable future packaging solutions which are significantly more efficient, accurate and food safe by using automation technologies”, says Johannes Wick, CEO of Bühler’s Grains & Food business. “The two companies are complementing each other in a perfect way with Bühler’s strong footprint and market position in China and Premier Tech’s recognized know-how in the field of automated packaging technologies,” says André Noreau, CEO of Premier Tech’s Systems and Automation business.
Switzerland has won 16 medals, including five gold, at the WorldSkills competition – a kind of Olympics for trade skills – in Kazan in western Russia. The Swiss team, known as SwissSkills, captured five gold, five silver and six bronze medals at the event, which wrapped up on Tuesday night in the Kazan Arena. The five gold medals went to the following participants: restaurant service specialist Martina Wick (who had to highest score of all Swiss; see video below), baker/confectioner Sonja Durrer, wall and floor tiler Renato Meier, electrician Florian Baumgartner and the landscape gardening team of Mario Enz and Fabian Hodel. The full result list with trainer names can be found here. Only China and Korea earned more medals than SwissSkills, the top European team. The team’s aim had been to come in among the top three nations, following on from its best ever performance at the last WorldSkills competition in Abu Dhabi in 2017.
Switzerland’s Federal Council, during its meeting on August 14th, confirmed that Switzerland will exchange financial account information with 33 more reviewed partner countries for the first time in September. The list comprises Andorra, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Brazil, Chile, China, Colombia, Cook Island, Costa Rica, Curaçao, Faroe Islands, Greenland, India, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mexico, Monaco, Montserrat, New Zealand, Russia, Saint-Kitts and Nevis, Saint Martin, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Sainte-Lucia, Saudi Arabia, Seychelles, Singapore, South Africa, and Uruguay. The Federal Council decided to commence the automatic exchange of financial account information (AEOI) based on the positive feedback by the economic affairs and taxation committees of both parliamentary chambers.
Interroll Group, a Swiss manufacturer of products for material handling logistics and automation, such as rollers and sorters, said it remains confident on the huge growth potential in China and will continue to increase investments, triggered by robust demand from the express delivery market in the country. Later this year, the technology center of Interroll at Suzhou, Jiangsu province, will introduce a new German microelectronic roller assembly line and some advanced processing equipment for electric roller pipes, the company said. Besides, the Swiss firm will also set up a new office in Beijing, in addition to its current one in Shanghai, to provide more direct services to its customers in North China and Northeast China, to cater to the growing demand.
Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceutical company, plans to submit 50 new drug applications in China over the next few years, as it projects faster Chinese drug approvals which could see the country overtake Europe to become its second-largest market. China’s pharmaceutical market is undergoing a shake-up as approvals for new drugs accelerate while the government forces lower prices for off-patent branded drugs which have accounted for most of multinationals’ sales in the country. Novartis expects to submit 50 new drug applications in China by 2023, which will be split roughly evenly between innovative and off-patent drugs, the company’s head of global drug development John Tsai said in an interview. The company has had 24 drugs approved in China in the past two years, most recently the multiple sclerosis treatment Gilenya in June. “We absolutely think China will be the number two market for us,” said Tsai.
The cash-strapped Baoshida Swissmetal company has been taken over by a group of Swiss investors six years after it was sold to a Chinese group. The newly-founded Swissmetal Industries, backed by two private investors, said it had acquired the firm, which employs about 160 people at two factories in the small towns of Dornach and Reconvilier. The near-bankrupt copper alloy manufacturer went into provisional receivership, but a plan for a debt-restructuring moratorium was delayed several times pending a legal case. The main creditor, the Chinese Development Bank, gave a EUR 15 million (CHF16.4 million) loan to Baoshida Swissmetal in 2016 and has accused the administrator of providing insufficient information about the financial situation of the manufacturer. In May, the Chinese Development Bank refused an offer of CHF 9 million by Swiss Team for the company. The Chinese chief executive of Baoshida Swissmetal was dismissed in 2018 and was given a suspended prison sentence by a Swiss court for unlawful business practices last year. On Tuesday, the new owners of Swissmetal announced plans to restructure the company in the near future and limit its production to one factory.
China moved up three places to 14th among the world’s most innovative countries this year, according to a report by the World Intellectual Property Organization on July 24th. The Global Innovation Index (GII) 2019 ranked 129 economies based on 80 indicators, including traditional measurements such as research and development investments, international patent and trademark applications, as well as newer indicators such as mobile phone app creation and hi-tech exports. China remained in first place in quality of innovation among middle-income economies for the seventh consecutive year, according to the report, and achieved the top spot in patents, utility models, trademarks and industrial designs by origin, as well as hi-tech and creative goods exports. The country also ranked second only to the US in 18 of the top 100 science and technology clusters. This year’s report named Switzerland as the world’s most innovative country, followed by Sweden, the US, the Netherlands and the UK.
Belimo increased its sales by 9.3% to CHF 355.2 million in the first half-year 2019. On a currency-adjusted basis, this corresponds to a growth of 9.9%. Operating income before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose to CHF 67.1 million (2018: CHF 59.5 million) resulting in an EBIT margin of 18.9% (18.3%). Advantageous currency effects among the factors contributed to this margin increase. A net income of CHF 53.4 million (CHF 47.6 million) and earnings per share of CHF 86.85 (CHF 77.40) resulted. Belimo generated a free cash flow of CHF 26.0 million (CHF 49.6 million). The investment of CHF 10 million as a short-term fixed cash deposit as well as higher capital expenditure, among others for the purchase of the building for the new service and logistics center near Dresden, reduced the free cash flow in the reporting period. Net liquidity was CHF 113.6 million at the end of June and the equity ratio was 77.9%. Sales in the Asia Pacific market region grew by 9.0%, in currency-adjusted terms by 10.5%. China in particular, the largest market in the region, made an important contribution to sales growth thanks to the consistent implementation of the growth strategy. One positive highlight in the Chinese market is the good development of the OEM business. However, uncertainties arising in China from the US-China trade dispute have become increasingly noticeable among market participants. Furthermore, the remaining markets in the Asia Pacific region did not develop as expected.
A Chinese university signed an agreement with the team of the Blue Brain Project, an attempt by Swiss scientists to create synthetic brains, to conduct brain science research together. Southeast University in Nanjing, capital of east China’s Jiangsu Province, and the European team will jointly build a database of cranial nerves accessible to global brain scientists for research of brain neurons and related medicine development, according to the deal they inked. Sean Hill, member of the Blue Brain Project, said Southeast University, which is the first academic institute they have cooperated with in China, is well-equipped with the neuromorphic reconstruction technology they need. Researchers of both sides will try to realize large-scale reconstruction of brain neurons through technologies like machine vision and virtual reality in a bid to explore brain and brain-like intelligence, said Peng Hanchuan, a researcher with the university.