Sino-Swiss Business News
A cultural forum on Swiss architecture and art kicked off at Aranya, a trendy artsy tourism-oriented community space in Qinhuangdao, North China’s Hebei Province, as the first chapter in space’s Swiss architecture month that is set to run until mid-August. Collaboratively organized by the Embassy of Switzerland in China and Juanzong Books, the forum invited four ingenious Chinese architects – able to play to their oriental cultural tastes through Western approaches – to share their projects that reflect on the topic of “sustainability,” a pivotal issue in architecture. Adopting rather abstract themes such as “sensitive mountains” and “passive architecture,” the forum discussion focused on how buildings are designed to fit into the mountainous geography commonly seen in both China and Switzerland. Three Chinese architects Liu Kenan, Zhuang Ziyu and Yu Dao engaged the audiences by deductively showing the thought processes behind their projects to allow them to understand how they balanced idealistic vision and well-calculated functionality in their designs.
This year, the Chinese government implemented its domestic-international dual circulation strategy: the country wants to strengthen domestic demand and be less dependent on imports. This policy has huge implications for the life sciences, both in China and abroad. Local policies shall support the establishment of the entire value chain in China, and Chinese companies obtain subsidies for overseas market development. As a result, Swiss startups might benefit from the growing interest of Chinese venture capital funds. On the other hand, multinational companies will face increased competition from domestic firms. Lukas Zuest, Counsel and Head China Desk at the Swiss law firm Vischer, talked about the impact of the domestic-international dual circulation policy on the life science industry in both countries at the online edition of the Swiss Chinese Life Sciences Forum. The fourth edition of the event, organized in collaboration with VISCHER, the Swiss Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Basel Area Business & Innovation, attracted a diverse audience, not only from Switzerland and China, but also from many other European countries and even from India.
Cainiao Network has teamed up with Nestlé to promote a greener supply chain for the leading Swiss food company’s operations across China. Alibaba’s logistics arm said the cooperation is an ‘industry first’ when it comes to achieving sustainable end-to-end supply chain management, which will transform Nestlé’s operations from the production line all the way to warehousing, transfer, distribution and package recycling by end consumers. Both companies have already started working last month on a recycling service on Cainiao’s app and its mini-programs on Alipay and WeChat. Chinese consumers who purchase products from Nestlé’s premium coffee brand Sense Café, for instance, can use a new mobile feature to book a time slot for couriers to pick up the used packaging at their doorsteps for free, which will be delivered to the recycling sites. The move comes as Alibaba steps its effort to reduce its carbon footprint, along with brand partners like Nestlé, with a shared goal of reaching net zero emissions. With consumption reaching new levels in China, there is growing importance to “preempt the transition towards a greener supply chain, with concrete and step-changing sustainability actions,” said Tony Domingo, Nestlé’s senior vice president of supply chain and procurement in the Greater China region.
Zurich has set up a new subsidiary called Zurich Life Insurance (Hong Kong) which has been granted a life insurer’s license by the Hong Kong Insurance Authority. The new licence will allow Zurich Life to deliver products and solutions that are well-tailored to the needs and expectations of customers in the market, it said in a statement. Geoffrey Au, CEO of Life Insurance, Zurich Hong Kong, said, “We see tremendous growth prospects in the local life insurance segment given the strong demand from customers to find solutions for their long-term financial needs. Traditionally, there is a strong savings culture in Hong Kong, but amid a persistent low interest rate environment, people are looking for better ways to safeguard their finances and strengthen their investment portfolio – and many are looking towards life insurance products to fill this gap.” “Zurich Hong Kong has seen strong new business growth in life insurance – recording more than a 50% increase in annualized premium equivalent (“APE”) in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the previous quarter1. My team and I are very excited about this new milestone, which underpins our commitment to the Hong Kong insurance market and our ambition to further grow our business. It’s also particularly exciting that this launch coincides with Zurich Hong Kong’s 60-year anniversary in the market.”
SWISS has revealed it will launch a new premium economy cabin by the end of the year. The cabin has a retro-business feel about it and will be fitted to the entire fleet of Boeing 777 aircraft operated by the airline by the start of next summer. The airline will be placing 24 seats from ZIM in the cabin with a 2-3-2 configuration between the economy and business class cabins. SWISS revealed that it is already selling tickets for the premium economy cabin on flights from April 2022. The airline announced that before this, the cabin would be offered as a paid upgrade for economy passengers, where available, during the introductory phase. The airline’s Boeing 777s are planned to fly to Bangkok, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, Miami, San Francisco, São Paulo, and Singapore.
Around 16,000 tonnes of CO2 has been cut from the supply chain of Honda’s China-based manufacturing division through a road-to-rail transformation in partnership with logistics leader Kuehne+Nagel. The programme was developed through KN Sincero, the joint venture between Swiss headquartered Kuehne+Nagel and Chinese automotive logistics firm Sincero, established in 2018. KN Sincero worked with Honda China to develop an integrated solution to convert much of its domestic long-haul trucking to train lines, using regional hubs to improve supply chain performance and further reduce carbon emissions. The programme delivered consolidations as well as value-added services, including sorting, scanning, repackaging, GPS track and trace, and recyclable container management. “Kuehne+Nagel has always been a supply chain partner that we can rely on, to help us improve our supply chain performance whilst also achieving our environmental goals,” said Mr. Jiang Hui and Mr. Takuji Kitamura, Joint General Manager of Wuhan Dong Hon, the logistics affiliate of Dongfong Honda Automotive. After six months of shifting to the road-to-rail model, new supply chain reliability and efficiencies are expected to eradicate 16,000 tonnes of carbon emissions annually. The carbon savings represent an enormous 70% reduction in total.
On June 18, 2021, the House of the Swiss Army Knives (Schweizer Messer）was officially open to the public for free with more than 3000 collections. Ms. Conny Camenzind, Swiss Consul General in Chengdu, Mr. Xing Jun, member of the Party Committee, Deputy Director of Chongqing Municipal Commission of Culture and Tourism Development, and Mr. Martin Mueller, National Chairman of Swiss Chinese Chamber of Commerce, attended the event and delivered welcome speeches. About fifty enthusiasts from all over the country also gathered in Chongqing to witness this grand opening of sabers and craftsmanship of the Swiss Army Knife. As an important platform for Sino-Swiss cultural exchanges, Sino-Swiss Techno Park (SSTP) in Chongqing Liangjiang New Area initially introduced the House of Swiss Army Knives project in Asia in December 2020. This project was created by the private collector Mr. Yang Haoran, a collector who owns more than 3,000 pieces with a spanning history of hundreds of years and covering the entire range of Swiss Army Knives. This private museum is currently the largest in Asia with the richest collections. Yang Haoran was selected by Victorinox Swiss Army Knife company as one of the seven Greatest Swiss Army Knife Collectors in the world. He is also the only non-European and non-American collector. He has been invited to visit the Swiss Army Knife Headquarters factory for times and has been on media in China and aboard.
The recent ITMA Asia + CITME exhibition was marked by a strong showing from Swiss Textile Machinery members, in what was the sector’s first major face-to-face showcase since the pandemic restrictions. With an attendance comprised of 99% Chinese visitors, the show still proved a satisfactory venture, the Swiss companies reported. There was real product innovation, and meaningful customer interest, prompting a genuine mood of optimism among exhibitors. The event was held from June 12-16 in Shanghai, with 18 Swiss exhibitors, of whom 13 were Swiss Textile Machinery member companies. “Our members were first of all delighted to be able to meet their customers in person again,” says Cornelia Buchwalder, secretary general of Swiss Textile Machinery. “And the feedback was extremely positive regarding the post-pandemic future market situation. From an admittedly low base in recent times, we see a real revival in investment. “Despite the lack of many show visitors from other countries, it is still the case that China itself is a pre-eminent market for textile machinery – so it is the ideal place to restart our exhibition campaign.”
Switzerland has come top for the first time in the 33-year history of IMD’s World Competitiveness Ranking, in a year that reflected the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on economic competitiveness. Sweden came second (up from 6th last year) with Denmark in third spot (2nd in 2020) in a shakeup that saw European economies weather the health crisis better than most other regions. Completing the top five were the Netherlands (also 4th last year) followed by Singapore. Singapore took a tumble from the number one spot it had held for the previous two years. China comes 16th, up from 20th last year. The IMD World Competitiveness Ranking ranks 64 economies and assesses the extent to which a country promotes the prosperity of its people by measuring economic well-being through hard data and survey responses from executives. This year the rankings expose the economic impact of the pandemic across the globe. The report finds that qualities such as investment in innovation, digitalization, welfare benefits and leadership resulting in social cohesion have helped economies better weather the crisis, allowing them to rank higher in competitiveness.
Innovation parks in Switzerland and China are seeking to cooperate closely. In so doing, high-tech firms in China would look to set up subsidiaries in Switzerland. At the same time, new opportunities would be opened up for innovative Swiss companies in China. Plans have been drawn up for innovation parks in Switzerland and China to cooperate in future. The relevant Memorandum of Understanding has been signed by Switzerland Innovation and the Torch Center of the Ministry of Science and Technology of the People’s Republic of China, details of which can be found in a press release. The Torch Center is the Chinese counterpart of Switzerland Innovation, helping to coordinate around 170 “High-Tech Development Zones” across the country. These are innovation parks designed to attract high-tech companies and capital in addition to establishing innovation networks. The overarching aim of the collaboration is to promote exchanges between the innovation parks in Switzerland and China. According to Switzerland Innovation, some of the high-tech Chinese firms will also set up subsidiaries in Switzerland, where they will then have the opportunity to drive forward innovation projects together with Swiss universities and companies. At the same time, the collaboration will also open up new opportunities for Swiss firms seeking to establish a presence in the Chinese market.