Interview: Swiss technology industry optimistic on business in China: Swissmem president

By Martina Fuchs (Xinhua) 13:16, May 19, 2023

GENEVA, May 18 (Xinhua) -- The outlook of Switzerland's mechanical and electrical engineering sector for doing business in China is "generally very positive in the long term," Martin Hirzel, president of Swissmem, told Xinhua recently.

"Trade between Switzerland and China has been a success story," said Hirzel, who has since 2021 been president of the leading association for the Swiss technology industry.

"Over the last 20 years, we have quadrupled our exports to China. Many of our companies have a presence in China. Not only for sales and services but also assembly, manufacturing, and even research and development," he said.

"We encourage Swiss industrial companies to be present in China, to do business in China," and to contribute to benefit China's economy and society, he emphasized.

Founded in 1883 and headquartered in Zurich, Swissmem currently has over 1,350 member companies.

Since 2010, China has been Switzerland's biggest trading partner in Asia and its third largest globally. The two countries signed a free trade agreement (FTA) that entered into force on July 1, 2014.

"Many Swiss industrial companies have a presence in China. They produce in the market for the market," Hirzel said.

"On average, the China business can make up to one-third of the entire business of a Swiss company, that is important," Hirzel said, adding that "Swiss CEOs know China ... and generally, they're very positive on the long term."

According to statistics released by Swissmem in March, the performance of the Swiss technology industry -- mechanical and electrical engineering and related technology sectors -- has improved last year: sales were up by 9.4 percent year-on-year, exports by 5.6 percent, and new orders received by 2.4 percent.

Hirzel said that the Swiss mechanical and electrical engineering industry is very much an export-oriented sector, which depends on its main markets, such as China.

Hirzel noted that while the trade association counts multinational companies such as ABB, Schindler, and Siemens as its members, Swiss semiconductor companies also play an increasingly crucial role.

"It might be unknown that Switzerland does have a semiconductor industry ... some hundred companies are in that ecosystem, in the fields of photonics, optics, equipment manufacturing," he explained, hoping to boost business ties with China in this field.

(Web editor: Zhang Kaiwei, Liang Jun)


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