Interview: Swiss Businesses Look to Benefit from Flourishing EU-China Trade, Says SCCC President

The president of the Swiss-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (SCCC) said that Swiss companies would stand to benefit from China becoming the European Union’s (EU) top trading partner. “With 2021 being the year of the coronavirus pandemic recovery, I expect some statistics to change again,” Felix Sutter, who has been the chamber’s president since 2015, told Xinhua. “In 2020 the personal protective equipment (PPE) industry had an impact on statistics. In 2021 the pharmaceutical industries will have an oversized impact as well,” Sutter said, “Furthermore, many affected SME’s (small and medium-sized enterprises) and MNC’s (multinational companies) began to address supply chain challenges and may start to source regionally rather than from far away places.” China overtook the United States to become the EU’s top trading partner for the first time last year, the EU’s statistical office Eurostat said. Sutter said that Switzerland would be ideally positioned economically and geographically as “a landing place for Chinese organizations.” Since 2010, China has been Switzerland’s biggest trading partner in Asia and its third largest globally after the EU and the U.S. The two countries signed a free trade agreement (FTA) that entered into force on July 1, 2014.

Bühler Weathers Challenging Year

Bühler on February 13 reported EBIT of CHF 146 million (USD 163.6 million) for 2020 compared to CHF 248 million a year ago. Turnover was CHF 2.7 billion, down 17.0% from CHF 3.3 billion. The 2020 figures are impacted by the development of currency exchange rates, specifically of the Chinese yuan, euro, and US dollar against the Swiss franc. The Group gained financial strength, with equity ratio reaching 44.2% (+1.4 percentage points) and net liquidity soaring to CHF 749 million (+66.8%). Turnover was CHF 2.7 billion (-17.0%), with order intake amounting to CHF 2.6 billion (-16.7%). Along with the divergent course of Bühler’s businesses, there was also a shift in regional development towards Asia. While all markets reported lower volumes, Bühler Asia managed to be stable driven by the strong growth of Bühler’s business in China. Order intake in China rose sharply by 15% for the full year. Regarding turnover, Asia now makes up 35% (previous year: 31%), Europe 30% (30%), North America 16% (16%), Middle East & Africa 11% (14%), South America 5% (6%), and South Asia 3% (3%). Despite the challenging environment, Bühler continued to execute its innovation roadmap, launching 86 new products and solutions.

Clariant and Harbin Hulan Sino-Dan Jianye Bio-Energy Announce License Agreement for Sunliquid® Cellulosic Ethanol Technology in China

Clariant, a focused, sustainable and innovative specialty chemical company, announced that it has signed a license agreement with Harbin Hulan Sino-Dan Jianye Bio-Energy, a Chinese green energy company for its sunliquid® cellulosic ethanol technology. Harbin Hulan Sino-Dan Jianye Bio-Energy, a subsidiary of the Sino-Dan Jianye Group was formed in the early 2010s and has been involved in the second generation (2G) biofuels business and research for almost a decade making them one of the frontrunners in this field in China. The project development and plant operation will be performed by Harbin Hulan Sino-Dan Jianye Bio-Energy at a corn-rich greenfield site near Harbin City in the Heilongjiang Province, in Northeast China, utilizing available land and existing infrastructure owned by the Sino-Dan Jianye Group. The annual production capacity is planned to be 25,000 tons of cellulosic ethanol, processing more than 125,000 tons of locally sourced corn stover, making it one of the first 2G biofuel plants to be built in the Heilongjiang Province so far. The project is comprised of a license for a basic sunliquid® engineering package, the provision of technical services, as well as the supply of starter cultures from Clariant’s proprietary enzyme and yeast platform to process Harbin Hulan Sino-Dan Jianye Bio-Energy’s feedstock into cellulosic ethanol. Detailed project evaluations and preparations for the engineering phase are well underway.

Bally’s Strategy Drives Growth In China Despite COVID-19

From architect Le Corbusier to designer Ueli Berger, Switzerland has historically been synonymous with intelligent, stylish design. As one of the rare birds that marries a storied heritage, artisanal craft, and contemporary concerns like environmental sustainability, the Swiss luxury house Bally continues the country’s long tradition. Whether it’s the application of its iconic Bally Stripe designs, which date back to its origin as a ribbon-maker in the 1840’s, or the way it drives digital innovation today, Bally is sure to bring its valuable combination of heritage and imagination into 2021. This combination works well with China’s consumers, too, as it’s currently the house’s largest market worldwide. With the same spirit that Carl Franz Bally pioneered the mechanization of shoemaking when he founded the company in 1851, Bally blazed a trail into the China region in the early 1980s with a strategy rooted in physical stores. Yet, creating an integrated shopping experience to engage customers in the digital space became a priority, even before COVID-19. And since 2019, e-commerce channels like Tmall’s Luxury Pavilion have helped the company drive double-digit growth. According to Bally CEO Nicolas Girotto, these initiatives have been executed with vital input from its local teams on the ground, enabling the brand to navigate China’s cultural nuances with confidence. Now, as Bally enters 2021, Jing Daily talks to Girotto about what’s next in China, communication strategies, and retaining its important inbound Chinese consumers.

President Xi Jinping’s Speech at Davos Agenda is Historic Opportunity for Collaboration

Chinese President Xi Jinping called for both greater global efforts in the fight against an unprecedented public health crisis and a renewed commitment to multilateral cooperation, in a special address on Monday to business, government and civil society leaders taking part in the World Economic Forum’s virtual event, The Davos Agenda. “The pandemic is far from over and the recent resurgence in COVID cases reminds us that we must carry on the fight,” Xi said. “There is no doubt that humanity will prevail over the virus and emerge even stronger from this disaster.” “We should stay committed to keeping up with the times instead of rejecting change. Now is the time for major development and major transformation.” Xi outlined several objectives required for a better future. They include the need to work together to achieve strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth, to close the gap between developing and developed countries as a prerequisite for global prosperity, and to strengthen global cooperation in addressing the big common challenges, namely COVID-19 and climate change.

Swiss Renminbi Hub Has 13 Partner Banks

China Construction Bank (CCB) officially opened its Zurich branch on January 14, 2016. In the five years since then, the institution has supported companies from Switzerland and China in establishing and expanding their business activities in the respective countries. On behalf of the Central Bank of the People’s Republic of China (PBoC), CCB has also established the renminbi hub in Switzerland since 2016 and has since been developing cross-border business with the Chinese currency in Switzerland as a clearing bank for the renminbi. Since its opening, the hub has recorded a transaction volume of CNY 4,300 billion yuan (about CHF 590 billion), of which around CNY 2,600 billion was accounted for in 2020 alone, the institution said. The hub today has 13 Swiss partner banks. As a Chinese bank in Switzerland, CCB’s Zurich branch focuses on providing first-class financial services to Swiss companies operating in China, Swiss import and export companies, Chinese companies operating in Switzerland, and Swiss and international financial institutions.

UBS Aims to Double China Investment Banking Staff for Growth

UBS Group AG aims to double staff at its China investment banking business in 3-5 years, seeking to capture growth opportunities unleashed by Beijing’s capital market reforms, a senior executive said on Monday. Eugene Qian, chairman of UBS’ China brokerage venture, also said there’s a price to pay for not investing in China, describing the Trump administration’s measures to restrict investment toward China as “unnecessary.” “As China continues to open up its capital markets, more foreign capital is coming in, making talents in China scarce,” said Qian, chairman of UBS Securities Co Ltd. The brokerage venture currently employs over 200 people in investment banking,brokerage and research roles – excluding back office and other support staff – and aims to double that number. “No global investor can ignore China. If you don’t invest in China, you would underperform those who do,” he said in an interview on the sidelines of the UBS Greater China Conference in Shanghai. In addition to investment banking, UBS Group also plans to aggressively expand its wealth management and asset management business in China. Having more than doubled total China staff to nearly 1,300 since 2015, the Swiss group will continue to make “strategic hirings”, Qian said.

Dufry and HDH to open new duty-free stores in Hainan, China

Dufry and Hainan Development Holdings (HDH), a fully state-owned company of the Hainan Provincial Government, have signed a strategic cooperation agreement to develop opportunities in Hainan’s travel retail market. The first step of this collaboration will focus on the development of new duty-free operations at the Mova Mall in Haikou, the capital of the island. Mova Mall is a major tourism and shopping destination in the city center of Haikou, featuring a vast leisure offer of shopping, dining and entertainment facilities, as well as over 2,500 luxury hotel rooms in walking distance. The Mova Mall complex welcomed 22 million visitors in 2019 and visitors from mainland China are allowed to buy duty-free items up to an amount of 100.000 RMB (approx. USD 14,000) per year. The new downtown duty-free shop will span over 38,920 m2 across two buildings of the Mova Mall, in three phases and the first phase is expected to be opening before the Chinese Spring Festival, at the end of February 2021.

Overseas Companies Hail Expanded Opening-up

President Xi presented his vision for the country’s reform and opening-up on a number of occasions last year. In a speech delivered via video link to the Global Trade in Services Summit at the China International Fair for Trade in Services in September, he said Beijing would remain steadfast in opening up wider to the world and would continue to work on a negative list system for managing cross-border services trade. “We will further ease market access for the services sector and will take greater initiative to increase imports of quality services,” he said. In Shenzhen, Guangdong province,-the country’s first special economic zone that celebrated its 40th anniversary in October-Xi said reform and opening-up must be moved forward at a higher level and new advances must be made on all fronts in such zones. Martin Mueller, chairman of the Swiss Chinese Chamber of Commerce, said he welcomed Xi’s policy statement about China’s opening-up. “We appreciate China’s commitment to multilateralism and its continued opening-up to more foreign trade and investment. China is now a very big factory for the whole world, and if it maintains this direction, the whole world will benefit,” he said. He added that the chamber welcomes every step taken toward opening-up and leveling the playing field for foreign businesses in China. “There were important improvements over the past year and we hope this can continue in coming years,” he said.

Nestlé Launches Plant-Based Harvest Gourmet Brand in China

Nestlé launched its plant-based Harvest Gourmet brand in China, moving into the country’s meat substitute industry that has seen a surge of interest from investors and brands over the past year. The Swiss food and drink giant said the brand, which is available in Australia, would offer burgers, sausages, nuggets and mince, and will also sell dishes aimed to appeal to Chinese taste-buds, such as kung pao chicken, braised meatballs and pork belly. Demand for alternatives to regular meat is surging due to concerns about health, animal welfare and the environment. Entrants to China’s meat substitute market in recent months have ranged from domestic firms Zhenmeat and Starfield to U.S. firm Beyond Meat Inc, which has collaborations with Starbucks and Yum China’s KFC chain. Harvest Gourmet products sold in China will be produced by Nestlé’s faux-meat factory in Tianjin, its first in Asia. The brand will open an online store on Alibaba Group’s Tmall marketplace this month, and will gradually start offering products for sale from Alibaba’s Hema supermarket chain by the end of 2020, Nestlé said. “We see China leading the trend towards a new generation of plant-based food in Asia, as people look for options that are good for them and good for the planet,” Rashid Qureshi, chief executive of Nestlé Greater China, said in a statement.


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