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May 6 – 7, 2005

SwissCham held its seventieth annual meeting on May 6 and 7, 2005 in Lugano, Switzerland. The event brought together 25 member chambers from Switzerland and abroad, as well as representatives of seco, EDA and local Ticinese economic and municipal structures (70 participants altogether). The meeting slogan "molto vivace" or "very lively" set the tone for an energetic debate of issues regarding the chambers, their cooperation with other state instruments and ways that they can optimize their services in the interest of promoting Swiss business internationally.

The proceedings on May 6 opened with a welcome statement from Jürg Schweri, SwissCham President. The first day was devoted to the role of the Swiss foreign chambers of commerce in promoting Swiss exports, and forms of collaboration between the chambers and the Osec hubs. Jürg Schweri, who moderated the entire program, began with a presentation on the current status of Swiss export and directions for the future.

Mr. Schweri observed that progress in the area of export promotion had been made including a more open culture of dialogue, service agreements with Osec, inclusion of chamber representatives in Osec training programs, improved cooperation between SwissCham and LocationSwitzerland, the legal institutionalization of bilateral chambers as export partners and a new training program for SwissCham launched. At the same time he noted that there was room for additional improvement. In this respect the government "must realize that its goals can be more effectively achieved through the deployment of private sector instruments."

Ambassador Eric Martin, EDA, discussed how EDA views the collaboration with Swiss chambers of commerce abroad. He stated that good cooperation between EDA representatives abroad and chambers is teneted on "each understanding and accepting its role in the export promotion landscape, avoiding competition, engaging in a regular exchange of information, and integrating the chambers in Osec's training program."

In laying out seco's strategy for foreign economic policy and country promotion Ambassador Eric Scheidegger noted that SwissCham's role in his view is to function as a partner for the Osec business hubs abroad. He also discussed strengthening SwissCham's collaboration with Location: Switzerland, a project currently in the pipeline.

An important focus of the event was current and upcoming SwissCham projects. Two of these are driven by the ethos of collaboration between economic promotion instruments. The Events Coordination Systemn (ECS), presented by Dorit Sallis, is an information platform that consolidates all events focusing on Swiss trade and investment conducted by Osec, SOFI, SIPPO and erg. It is an excellent vehicle for the chambers to not only inform the public about the events they are organizing, but also to cooperate more systematically with the afore-mentioned instruments on joint events. One such event that is in its fifth year is the Forum der Schweizer Aussenwirtschaft 2005, presented by Susan Horvath, where SwissCham is a network partner. This will provide a venue for bilateral chambers to advertise their services as well as to network with business representatives.

The general assembly that took place on May 7, 2005, entailed a review of SwissCham's activities in 2004. Five new chambers were voted in as SwissCham members - Asociacion Economica Hispano-Suica, Chamber of Commerce Switzerland-Romania, the Italian Chamber of Commerce for Switzerland, the Swiss-Canadian Association and the Switzerland-Israel Chamber of Commerce, bringing the total number of members to 47.

The SwissCham assembly elected two new board members, Martin Naville, Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce and Ralf Bopp, Germany-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce. Ralf Bopp replaces Martin Theurer, who is retiring as Managing Director of the Germany-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce. Jürg Schweri thanked Martin Theurer for the valuable and dedicated service he gave to the association throughout his tenure. The members were also informed about two new Vice Presidents, Susan Horvath and Beat Kälin, recently elected by the SwissCham board.

As always, participants had ample opportunity to network with old and new colleagues, this time in the sunny, Mediterranean environment of Lugano. The festive dinner held at Restaurant Perla di Lago with its breathtaking view of the lake on Friday evening, and the boat trip and dinner on Saturday evening offered an informal context for members to discuss new ideas, exchange thoughts, share experiences, and simply enjoy being with good friends.

May 2006 will bring with it the chance for the chambers to do so once again, this time in the historical splendor of Budapest where the next SwissCham annual meeting will be held. By Dorit Sallis

Jürg Schweri, SwissCham, opens the Annual Meeting. The audience. Forefront: Franz Probst (left) and Sushil Premchand, Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce. Second row: Hans Graf, The Swiss-Baltic Chamber of Commerce (left) and Jean-Luc Peyrot, Swiss Chamber of Commerce in France.

Ambassador Eric Scheidegger, seco. Ambassador Eric Martin, Abteilung EDA.

Left to right: Ambassador Martin,

Jürg Schweri and Ambassador Scheidegger.

Forefront: Walter Diggelmann, Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce. Second row: Max Steiner (left) and Roger Unterberger, Swiss-Central Europe Chamber of Commerce (SEC).

Daniel Küng, Osec.

Left to right: Ursula Bardorf, Swisscam Brasil, Martin Theurer, Chamber of Commerce Germany-Switzerland, Claudio Camponovo, Ticino Chamber of Commerce.

Corinne Schirmer, Chamber of Commerce Switzerland-Peru. Left to right: Arnoldo Coduri, Economics and Finance Department of Canton Tessin, Fabrizio Rindi, Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Italy, Giorgio Pagani and Guido Casparis, Premec.

Fabrizio Rindi, Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Italy. Sushil Premchand, Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce.

Left to right: Gülin Arican, Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Turkey, Barbara Möckli-Schneider, Swiss-South East Asia Chamber of Commerce, Ursula Bardorf, Swisscam Brasil. Susan Horvath, Swiss-Chinese Chamber of Commerce makes a presentation on the Forum der Schweizer Aussenwirtschaft 2005.

Bettina Rutschi, seco, makes a presentation on the Project Commission.

Susan Horvath, Swiss-Chinese Chamber of Commerce.

The audience listens attentively. Jean-Luc Peyrot, Swiss Chamber of Commerce in France, discusses the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC).

Dorit Sallis, SwissCham, makes a presentation on the Events Coordination System (ECS). Walter Diggelman, Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce (left) chats with Ernesto Moeri, Swisscam Brasil.

Me Maja Respini-Wetterwald (left) and Karl Schlumpf, Chamber of Commerce Switzerland-Central and Western Africa. Alex Becher, Chamber of Commerce Switzerland-, Austria and Liechtenstein (left) and Robert Oehler, SwissCham Southern Africa.

Left to right: Vivianne Küng, Bruno Lehmann, Swiss Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Portugal, Bettina Rutschi, seco and Jane Achermann, SOFI. Charles Kaufmann-Sampaio (left) talks to Diana Würtenberg, Swiss-Baltic Chamber of Commerce.

Jürg Schweri chats with Mrs. Etter. Left to right: Franz Probst, Swiss-Indian Chamber of Commerce, Christin Silberschmidt and Martin Herb, Swiss-Japanese Chamber of Commerce.


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.