SwissCham was once again an organizer of the Swiss International
Business Forum, a leading international business event
in Switzerland. On November 9 and 10, 2005 approximately
350 people from the world of economics and politics
gathered at Zurich Hallenstadion’s new conference
center to learn about recent developments in international
business and to exchange ideas. SwissCham was joined
by the partners of Business Network Switzerland, an
alliance of expert organizations equipped to answer
all questions pertaining to international business,
including erg, Osec, SIPPO and the Swiss Organisation
for Facilitating Investments (SOFI).
This year the Swiss International Business Forum focused
on ways of financing international business. China,
was the guest country this year. The Swiss-Chinese Chamber
of Commerce (SCCC) played an important role in supporting
the second day of the forum, which was devoted to doing
business in China. Susan Horvath, SCCC Managing Director,
was on the Forum steering committee, and lent her expertise
to program development and organization. In honor of
the SCCC's 25 anniversary, Jörg Wolle, the President
made a commemorative speech at the networking dinner
on November 9. Chinese Vice Minister of Commerce Xiaozhun
Yi and a high-level mission of business men including
Chen Jian Cheng, President and CEO of the Wolong Group
Shanghai, an electrical engineering firm that is among
China’s top 500 companies, attended the Forum
and offered first-hand information on government policy
and business conditions in the country.
In his welcome address on the first day Federal Councillor
Deiss emphasized that China is a good partner for many
Swiss companies. "In my discussions in Shanghai
and Beijing I learnt that China takes Switzerland seriously!
And Swiss entrepreneurs take the Chinese market seriously."
Federal Councillor Deiss stressed the importance of
this market for Swiss entrepreneurs. He stated that
he wants to ensure workplaces in Switzerland, and views
a Swiss presence in burgeoning markets such as China
as a way to ensure the continuous growth of the Swiss
economy and associated employment opportunities.
Dr. Niklaus Blattner, Vice Chairman of the Governing
Board of the Swiss National Bank, said that about 5
000 Swiss firms have stakes abroad. This is 2% of the
approximately 300 000 companies in our country. Small
and medium size enterprises constitute 95% of all direct
investment. In absolute terms SME involvement is relatively
modest, while it is the large enterprises that leave
their stamp on foreign capital and human resource development
Dr. Hans F.
Vögeli, CEO of Zurich Cantonal Bank, main sponsor
of the Swiss International Business Forum for the fifth
year in a row, observed that "Zurich’s economy
earns every second franc abroad – a growing tendency."
He added that "in the meantime about 300 Swiss
firms with over 55 000 employees are represented in
Managing Director of the Greater China Office, McKinsey
& Company, China, reiterated this fact, noting that
"foreign enterprises in China are drivers of China’s
export successes today." Despite the challenges,
he believes that the risks of doing business in China
are manageable and that firms could benefit from the
lower cost structure.
with track records in China elaborated ways of overcoming
these risks. Christian Mosbeck, Oertli Induflame AG,
highlighted the importance of building good relations
with local authorities. Dominique Lauener, Lauener SA,
who benefited from a seco Start-up Fund credit and support
from SOFI in China, said it is essential to find a trusted
local partner and to rely on the resources of an experienced
local intermediary agency to identify and build a relationship
with an appropriate partner.
Opinions vary on whether China is the optimal target
market for Swiss exports due to fierce local competition
and the financial and operational costs of doing business
in this unfamiliar environment. Still, there is no doubt,
that the Chinese market represents tremendous untapped
potential for Swiss companies, especially in regions
away from the metropolis of Beijing and Shanghai, such
as Western China. CEO of Nestlé China Josef M.
Müller pointed out that "by having changed
itself, China is changing the world." The challenge
now for Swiss SMEs is to see whether and, if so, how
to ride this wave of change.
Aside from valuable information, the event offered SwissCham
members an opportunity to reconnect and exchange views.
In addition to SwissCham President Jürg Schweri,
a number of chamber representatives attended, including
Corinne Schirmer, Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Peru,
Max Steiner, Chamber of Commerce Switzerland –
Central Europe, Martin Naville, Swiss-American Chamber
of Commerce, Gérard Salzmann, Swiss Chamber of
Commerce in Morocco and Michael Enderele, Swiss-Indian
Chamber of Commerce. SwissCham had a stand where the
chambers documentation was displayed, and members could
network with each other and other forum participants.
By Dorit Probst-Sallis
|Left to right: H.E. E.
Astete Rodrigues, Ambassador of Peru in Switzerland,
Rolf Jecker, Osec President, and Corinne Schirmer,
Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Peru
||Jürg Schweri; SwissCham
President, talks to Ambassador Eric Scheidegger,
seco (right) and Hans-Peter Achermann, SOFI.
Salzmann, Swiss Chamber of Commerce in Morocco,
proudly displays the most recent edition of his
chamber's bulletin, "CCS Information".
|At the SwissCham stand,
(left to right), Max Steiner, SEC, Dorit Probst-Sallis
and Jürg Schweri, SwissCham.