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CH-8032 Zurich
Switzerland

Phone: +41 41 620 66 83
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Artikel in Deutsch

 

This year's SwissCham Annual General Meeting took place at the Marriott Hotel, Budapest, Hungary on May 26 and 27. Expertly hosted by Swisscham Hungary, the local bilateral chamber that is managed by Dr. Csilla Halasz, the event was a particularly memorable one. Not only did the venue, located on the banks of the Danube with a breathtaking view of the Buda hill from every window, delight. The guest speakers featured political and economic leaders from both Switzerland and Hungary. To top off the experience, seven chambers were voted in as members – a record number for a single year. SwissCham now has 53 members that span Switzerland and the globe, 37 full members and 16 associate (corresponding) members.

The event attended by 21 bilateral chambers of commerce from as far away as Australia and Argentina, and a total of 69 people including speakers and guests, was expertly moderated by Jürg Schweri, SwissCham President. Proceedings on May 26 began with a word of welcome from Schweri and Dr. Istvan Béres, President of Swisscham Hungary. Dr. Abel Garamhegyi, Deputy State Secretary of Economy and Transport, treated the audience to an illuminating account of Hungary's stunning economic progress over recent years, as well as the inevitable challenges that the country faces. Participants were inspired to learn about the measures that the Hungarian government is taking to ensure optimal conditions for trade and investment, conveyed by Dr. Garamhegyi in a style that was refreshingly open and direct.

As in previous years, the issue of cooperation between the bilateral chambers and the network of business promotion instruments and organizations was on the agenda. Stephan Oetiker, Head of Consultancy & Information, Osec discussed new developments at Osec in the area of consulting, trade fairs and the "Dritte Trägerschaft" project. Dr. Rolf Jeker, President of the Osec Board, examined the cooperation between Osec and the bilateral chambers.

The value of chamber cooperation with a broader network to benefit clients and partners alike was a leitmotif of numerous presentations. Lukas Briner, Director, Zurich Chamber of Commerce (ZHK) elucidated ways that his chamber worked with local organizations and other chambers to optimize the service provided to clients. Dr. Halasz gave an account of how in very few years, her bilateral chamber was able to build up a palette of services and contacts that enables it to actively contribute to Hungarian-Swiss business cooperation.

In his presentation on the Pool of Experts, a joint project of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, Osec, Fargate and Flare, Martin Naville, Amcham CEO, showed concretely how, through the collaboration of various organizations, a matchmaking database of Swiss business consultants was created. On a similar note, Naville described the dynamic role that his chamber had played between the key actors trying to bring a free trade agreement between Switzerland and the USA to fruition. He observed that the role of the chamber in this process was, "coach, catalyser, fan, go-between," and emphasized the critical importance of its lobbying function.

The conference on the first day culminated with a presentation by State Secretary Jean-Daniel Gerber who praised Hungary for its excellent economic progress and said that EU Enlargement was a great success from the Swiss perspective. On a more local note he discussed possible scenarios for restructuring the numerous Swiss economic promotion instruments, but said that no final decision had been reached.

Other members of the SwissCham board gave an overview of different activities that the Association and its members had undertaken in 2005. Schweri discussed possible ways to organize the smaller chamber secretariats. Susan Horváth reviewed the current status of the fund to support training for chamber employees. She reported that 5 chambers had requested financing in the approximate amount of CHF 20,000. Jean-Luc Peyrot discussed SwissCham's involvement in the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), while Beat Kälin gave an overview of the new Swiss export risk guarantee (SERV).

A gala dinner was held at the Budapest Historical Museum where guests enjoyed a colorful journey through the unfolding history of the Hungarian capital as presented by Istvàn Schneller, Chief Architect of Budapest. This was preceded by cocktails with Minister of Economics and Transportation, Dr. Janos Koka, as the honored guest. Despite being renamed Economics Minister in the new government just a few hours before, Minister Koka graced the SwissCham guests with his presence and offered them his vision for the country's economic future against the evocative backdrop of the Danube and the city's rooftops.

At the AGM on June 27, a number of exciting developments took place. Seven new chambers were voted in as SwissCham members. New full members are the Arab-Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry Wirtschaftskammer Schweiz-Bulgarien, and the Swiss-Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Estonia (SBCC). New associate (corresponding) members are the Polish-Swiss Industry and Trade Chamber, the Bulgarian-Swiss Chamber of Commerce, Swiss-Republic of Slovakia Chamber of Commerce and the Swiss-Swedish Business Forum. The Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce, an associate member of SwissCham was also approved as a full member.  Sushil Premchand will join Walter Diggelmann as the SwissCham auditor. He replaces Michael Eggenschwiler.

To round off the event, Swiss Ambassador to Hungary, Dr. Marc-André Salamin made a presentation on the significance of Central Europe for Switzerland. Dr. Andreas Oplatka, NZZ correspondent in Central and Eastern Europe from 1968 to 2004 concluded with a discussion of the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 from a Swiss perspective. With poignant images and prose, Dr. Oplatka recalled the fateful events of 1956 and the safe haven that Switzerland offered 14,000 Hungarian refugees, of whom he himself was one. This was a fitting note on which to end the meeting, a clear acknowledgment of the close collaboration between Switzerland and Hungary, both past and present.

After hearing so much about the country, the SwissCham group had a chance to sample the cultural and gourmet delights with a guided tour of Budapest, followed by dinner in the traditional Hungarian Restaurant Karpatia. Echoing the theme of collaboration which had threaded its way through the presentations and discussion of the AGM, members toasted not only their generous hosts, but also one another in recognition of how from working relations between chambers scattered throughout the world, enduring friendships can grow. By Dorit Probst-Sallis

Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer Spacer Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer
State Secretary Jean-Daniel Gerber (center) with members of SwissCham.   Jürg Schweri, SwissCham President, opens the Annual General Meeting.
Spacer    
Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer   Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer
Corinne Schirmer, Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Peru (left) and Norma Alemann, Chamber of Commerce Switzerland-Argentina.   Left to right: Peter Jenelten, Max Steiner and Roger Unterberger, Swiss-Central Europe Chamber of Commerce (SEC).
     
Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer   Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer

Dr. Abel Garamhegyi, Deputy State Secretary, makes a presentation on Hungarian economic development.

  Left to right: Martin Naville, Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, Csilla Halasz, Swisscham Hungary and Lukas Briner, Zurich Chamber of Commerce.
     
Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer   Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer

Ralf Bopp, German-Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Susan Horváth, Swiss-Chinese Chamber of Commerce. Both are on the SwissCham board.

  Charles Kaufmann-Sampaio, Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Portugal listens to Alejandro Campos Fischer, Asociacion Economica Hispano Suiza.
     
Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer   Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer

Beat Kälin, member of the SwissCham board and the Swiss-Central Europe Chamber of Commerce (SEC) makes a presentation on SERV.

  Michael Mayer, SECO (left) and Charles Kaufmann-Sampaio, Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Portugal.
     
Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer   Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer

Left to right: Max Steiner, SEC, Jürg Würtenberg, Swiss-Baltic Chamber of Commerce in Estonia and Urs Schmid, Swiss Embassy in Hungary.

  Jean-Luc Perot, member of the SwissCham board and the Chambre de Commerce Suisse en France, makes a presentation on the International Chamber of Commerce. .
     
Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer   Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer

Left to right: Alessandra Modenese Kauffmann, Camera di Commercio Svizzera in Italia, Dorit Probst-Sallis, SwissCham, and Benita Funke, Swiss-Swedish Business Council.

  Left to right: Csilla Halasz, Swisscham Hungary, Attila Becsek, SEC, and Barbara Möckli-Schneider, Swiss-Asian Chamber of Commerce for ASEAN and Korea (SACC).
     
Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer   Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer

Dr. Marc-André Salamin, Swiss Ambassador to Hungary (left), talks to Ralf Bopp, German-Swiss Chamber of Commerce.

 

"...und der Fisch war so gross!"

Jürg Schweri (right) makes a point to Rolf Jeker, Osec.

     
Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer   Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer

State Secretary Jean-Daniel Gerber makes a presentation.

  Left to right: Jürg Würtenberg, Diana Würtenberg and Jürg Schweri.
     
Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer   Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer

Left to right: State Secretary Gerber, Hungarian Minister of the Economy Janos Kóka and Jürg Schweri.

  Gentiana Bulau, Chamber of Commerce Switzerland-Romania (left) and Katarina Somogyi, Switzerland-Republic of Slovakia Chamber of Commerce.
     
Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer   Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer

Alessandra Modenese Kauffman and Fabrizio Rindi, Camera di Commercio Svizzera in Italia talk to Csilla Halasz.

  Jane Achermann, SwissCham, at the gala dinner.
     
Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer   Rolf Jecker, Corinne Schirmer

Dean Storchenegger, Swiss Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, and Norma Alemann, Swiss-Argentina Chamber of Commerce.

  Left to right: Rolf Jeker, Corinne Schirmer, Elisabeth Gerber, State Secretary Jean-Daniel Gerber.




SwissCham, the Association of Swiss Foreign Trade Chambers since 1935, promotes Swiss exports and a Swiss economic presence abroad through its global network of member chambers.