Switzerland – Latin America: Economic Relations Report 2019 by SECO

Report on the Bilateral Economic Relations between Switzerland and Latin America 2019 published by The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

Click here for the report Link

Linda Walker nominated Vice-President of LATCAM

Linda Walker von Graffenried was nominated Vice-President of the Latin American Chamber of Commerce in Switzerland (Latcam) as of December 1, 2018. Linda Walker has been linked as an active member of the chamber for many years. She is founder and managing partner of Walker von Graffenried Asset Management, and Honorary Consul of Mexico in Zurich. The Board welcomes Linda Walker in her new Position.

Linda Walker replaces Melina von Dungen, Zürcher Kantonalbank who served as Vice-President of the Board since 2016.

The Board thanks Melina von Dungen for the many years she served on the Board of LATCAM and for her very active engagement and continuous support. Melina von Dungen led for various years the Junta Joven Chapter. Melina von Dungen left the Board as she was assigned new responsibilities within Zürcher Kantonalbank.

… to read full note click here

EFTA countries sign free trade agreement with Ecuador

SECO press release (free translation)

Bern, 25.06.2018 – On the occasion of the EFTA Ministerial Meeting in Saudarkrokur, Iceland, Federal Councilor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann and his counterparts from Iceland and Norway as well as the Liechtenstein Minister for Foreign Affairs, Justice and Culture have signed a free trade agreement with Ecuador. On the Ecuadorian side, Foreign Trade Minister Pablo Campana Sáenz signed his agreement. The economic and trade relations between the EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland) and Ecuador should be strengthened thanks to this free trade agreement.

The Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Ecuador covers many sectors. It improves market access and legal certainty for trade in goods (industrial and agricultural products), trade in services, investment and public procurement. It also includes provisions to protect intellectual property, reduce non-tariff barriers to trade, including sanitary and phytosanitary measures, competition, trade facilitation, trade and sustainable development.

The EFTA States benefit from the abolition of customs duties from the entry into force of the FTA or the expiry of transitional periods for all industrial products. In addition, Ecuador will grant reductions or elimination of customs duties on certain agricultural export products of importance to Switzerland.

Ecuador has significant growth potential that Swiss economic operators will be able to exploit thanks to this agreement. In 2017, Ecuador was Switzerland’s sixth largest trading partner in South America.

The agreement with Ecuador allows the EFTA States to strengthen their economic and trade relations with this partner and to avoid any discrimination in the Ecuadorian market as a result of the FTA that entered into force on 1 January 2017 between Ecuador and the EU.

OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (OECD-GL)

SECO supports Swiss companies in their corporate social responsibility (CSR). It draws attention to the new brochure “OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises in Practice“.

The Confederation expects Swiss companies to assume their responsibilities in accordance with internationally recognized CSR standards, such as the OECD-GL, in all their activities both at home and abroad. Through their implementation, companies and their value chains make a positive contribution to economic, ecological and social progress worldwide. The OECD-GL cover the disclosure of information, human rights (based, inter alia, on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights), working conditions, the environment, the fight against corruption, consumer interests, etc.

Using examples from the field, the brochure shows how companies can create business benefits and avoid or minimize the potential negative impact of their activities by applying the OECD-GL. A short self-test allows an assessment of the current implementation of the OECD-GL by a company. The brochure also presents the National Contact Point for the OECD-GL, a dialogue platform and out-of-court dispute resolution body whose secretariat is located in the SECO. It also point out that on 31st May 2018, the OECD published a practice-oriented manual for due diligence on companies which has a broad international scope, within others, supported by the UN.

The German, French and English versions of the brochure can be found on the CSR web portal of the Federal Government: www.csr.admin.ch.