The 100 Safest Countries in The World for COVID-19

Switzerland is the safest country in the world right now for COVID-19. South Sudan is, according to a massive 250-page report, the most dangerous nation. The report is based on 130 quantitative and qualitative parameters and over 11,400 data points in categories like quarantine efficiency, monitoring and detection, health readiness, and government efficiency. It’s by the Deep Knowledge Group, a consortium of companies and nonprofits owned by Deep Knowledge Ventures, an investment firm founded in 2014 in Hong Kong. “Switzerland and Germany achieve the #1 and #2 positions in this new special case study specifically because of their economy’s resilience, and due to the careful ways in which they are attempting to relax lockdown and economic freezing mandates in a fact and science-based manner, without sacrificing public health and safety,” the study says. China ranked 7th in the list.

Credit Suisse Wins Control Over Chinese Securities Joint Venture

Credit Suisse has taken a majority stake in its Chinese securities joint venture, granting it control for the first time over its business with the troubled Founder Group conglomerate. The Swiss bank joins a handful of other financial institutions taking advantage of an expedited opening of China’s financial markets, after years of slow, frustrating developments. Under pressure from the US to allow more foreign participation in domestic investment banking, asset management and insurance, China’s regulators have sped up reforms over the past two and a half years. Since then, UBS, Nomura, JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley have secured majority stakes in Chinese securities joint ventures, or the regulatory permission to do so. Credit Suisse said on Monday that it had increased its shareholding in Credit Suisse Founder Securities from 33.3% to 51%, after receiving regulatory approval in April. The bank is injecting capital into CSFS, diluting Founder Securities’ stake.

ABB Sees China Among Top Options for Foreign Investment

Swiss industrial giant ABB established its first manufacturing joint venture in China in 1992. Since then, it has invested more than 2.4 billion U.S. dollars in the country. Zhang Zhiqiang, managing director of ABB China told CGTN that the coronavirus pandemic hasn’t shaken up the company’s confidence in China, and it will continue its investment. Zhang said that China is among the most favorable markets for foreign investment. He revealed that China serves as ABB’s second biggest market, where more than 90 percent of sales come from local production. Zhang talks about the Foreign Investment Law, and elaborates on ABB’s take on industrial chain restructuring in the post-epidemic era in the interview.

Foreign Diplomats Experience Reopening of Beijing’s Water Town

It’s a chance to finally get out of the city and to see things gradually getting back to normal. The diplomats’ visit comes just as northern Beijing’s Gubei Water Town makes a new debut after closing down during the COVID-19 outbreak. The scenic spot invited several diplomats to its reopening ceremony over the weekend, including Consul General of the Embassy of Switzerland in China Christian Gobet, Consul General of the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in China Marija Haramija and World Health Organization representative Dr. Robert Kezaala. “It’s been a difficult period of time for a lot of industries, especially tourism. So for them to reopen now, I think that the public is obviously thrilled,” said Noah Fraser, managing director of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Beijing. “The recovery in Beijing is doing quite well. Slowly but surely, it’s going back to normal,” said Gobet. Gubei Water Town is located about 150 kilometers away from central Beijing. It’s modeled on southern China’s famous water town of Wuzhen with rivers running through it and traditional Chinese-style architecture.

Digital Banking: Swiss Financial Giant UBS has Applied for a Virtual Bank License in Mainland China

Switzerland-based UBS Group AG, a global investment bank and financial services firm with around USD 1 trillion in assets, recently confirmed that it is planning to launch a digital banking platform that would reduce operational costs and stimulate growth. However, UBS said its plan depends on whether or not it can secure a digital bank license in mainland China. Edmund Koh, head of UBS’ Asia-Pacific division, says China’s framework digital banking guidelines should be available by June or July of this year. As reported by the SCMP, Koh is hoping that UBS’ virtual bank application (for a countrywide, majority-owned digital bank license) will be approved or at least move forward in some way. If UBS’ application is successful, then it will be joining Chinese tech giant Tencent Holdings’ and Alibaba Group Holding’s banking units in offering cost-effective digital financial services throughout China. Koh, who is planning to incubate the initiative in China and then launch globally, remarked “We need scale, and I’m going to get that scale for UBS, working together with the Chinese authorities.” Private banking has been a highly profitable sector of the financial services industry; however, cost-to-income ratios continue to remain relatively high (around 70-80%) as well.

Nestlé Launches Personalized Healthy Drink Series

World-leading food and beverage giant Nestlé on Tuesday launched NESQINO – a series of healthy drinks made from 100 percent natural ingredients to tap into the health-food market and attract health-conscious consumers. The product has been developed by Nestlé Dairy Research & Development in less than 18 months, emphasizing healthy and balanced ingredients and aiming to differentiate itself from diet meal replacements. Its target consumers are aged 25-35 and interested in healthy lifestyles. Chinese consumers have shown a rising interest in health and well-being since the emergence of the COVID-19 epidemic, said Jason Yu, general manager of Kantar Worldpanel China. This offers more market potential for products related to health and well-being, he said. Rashid Qureshi, chairman and CEO of Nestlé China, said: “Chinese consumers have rigorous requirements for their health, and they are increasingly looking for solutions for their individual health needs. In response, Nestlé has brought together its global R&D resources and creative nutritionists to develop NESQINO, a smart and simple solution for making personalized healthy and tasty drinks.”

Swiss Giant Wins China Nod

Credit Suisse achieved a key milestone for its Chinese activities. The Swiss bank won regulatory approval to take a majority stake in Founders Securities, a joint venture it maintains in China, it said in a statement in Friday. Credit Suisse is the latest bank to rush in following the lifting of restrictions. “Credit Suisse will work closely with Founder Securities to make the necessary arrangements to complete the planned capital injection and related procedures,” the bank said. With the move, Credit Suisse’s holding will increase to 51 percent, from one-third currently. Last year, Chinese authorities said it will remove foreign ownership limits for securities, insurance, and fund management companies next year – one year earlier than planned. For Credit Suisse, this means developing onshore capabilities, the bank said. “We intend to continue to invest in this important market to bring our integrated capabilities and our comprehensive range of financial products and services to both domestic and international clients in China,” Asia head Helman Sitohang said.

China Calls on Switzerland to Increase Medical Supply Production

China calls for Switzerland to increase production of medical supplies and work with China to guarantee the materials needed in combating the COVID-19 and ensure the stability of global industrial and supply chains, a senior official said. State Councilor and Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks in a telephone conversation with Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis. China is speeding up production of ventilators, which are the most urgently-needed equipment, Wang said. He said China hopes Switzerland, one of the world’s major suppliers of ventilators parts, will increase production to meet the pressing demands of the world. China also would like to cooperate with Switzerland in researching and developing drugs and vaccines, Wang added. The State Councilor noted China has established a green channel to facilitate the transportation of supplies for pandemic prevention. China appreciated Switzerland for supporting the country in the fight against the novel coronavirus, he said, adding that the Swiss embassy and consulates in China lowered flags to half-mast as China mourned those sacrificed and succumbed to the COVID-19 on Tomb Sweeping Day, which showed the friendship of Swiss people to the Chinese people.

Protective Medical Gear from China Arrives in Switzerland

China is sending protective material to Switzerland with a first batch of “urgently needed” gowns delivered to Zurich hospitals on April 6th, Keystone-SDA news agency reported, citing cantonal authorities. Another flight arrived in Geneva and more are expected in the coming days. The personal protective gear arrived at Zurich Airport on Sunday evening from Shanghai. The supplies will be distributed to 34 healthcare institutions in the cantons of Zurich and Schwyz. Another flight landed on Monday in Geneva carrying 92 tonnes of protective medical equipment including masks made in China, Reuters reported. That flight contained 2.5 million surgical masks, 10 million gloves as well as goggles and thermometers. The equipment will be distributed to 13 Swiss hospitals and pharmaceutical associations. Additional protective materials such as masks, gloves and safety glasses are expected to arrive in the coming days, according to SWISS International Airlines.

Rail Transport Alternative: Schweizerzug and RTSB Connect Switzerland and China

Beginning April 1st, 2020, Schweizerzug and RTSB will connect Switzerland and China by rail once a week. This offer for maritime containers on the iron silk road includes Frenkendorf near Basel and Niederglatt near Zurich and serves both Xian in the Shaanxi province and Hefei in the Anhui province. The new service offers a fast and reliable alternative to ocean and air freight, which are both currently severely restricted due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. To carry out this service offer, Schweizerzug AG, based in Frenkendorf, and RTSB Schweiz AG, headquartered in Gams, formed a joint venture. Schweizerzug AG is a Swiss service provider for intermodal container transport by rail, and RTSB Schweiz AG belongs to the international RTSB group, a transport company focused on transmodal connections between Europe and the CIS, Mongolia and China. The transit time for this new connection between Switzerland and China is approximately 15 days to Xian and 18 days to Hefei. Compared to sea transport on the Rotterdam – Shanghai route, the new product from Schweizerzug and RTSB is about twice as fast.

 

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