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Ambassador: Swiss ready to contribute in meaningful way to B&R Initiative

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

05-12-2017 09:26 BJT

By Li Shouen, CCTV.com Panview editor-in-chief

The first Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation (BRF) is scheduled to be held this Sunday in Beijing, May 14 to 15. Swiss President Doris Leuthard is expected to attend at the invitation of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Swiss Federal President Doris Leuthard pose next to a panda ice sculpture as they launch the Sino-Swiss year of tourism, on January 17, 2017 on the sideline of the 47th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, in Davos.  Photo provided by the Swiss Embassy in Beijing

Ahead of the BRF, Ambassador of Switzerland to China, Jean-Jacques de Dardel, discussed Switzerland’s participation in the Belt & Road Initiative in an email interview with CCTV.com Panview.

Ambassador of Switzerland to China, Jean-Jacques de Dardel  Photo provided by the Swiss Embassy in Beijing

Panview: The BRF will be held in Beijing this weekend and Swiss President Doris Leuthard is scheduled to attend the summit. Could you please share with us more details? What are your expectations? 

Amb. de Dardel: Swiss President Doris Leuthard was invited to attend the Belt and Road Forum by Chinese President Xi Jinping during his state visit to Switzerland in January. I believe our president is among the first heads of state to be invited to the forum.

At the forum, President Leuthard will be giving a keynote speech and attending the Leaders Roundtable discussions. On the sideline of the forum, our two presidents will also be meeting for a bilateral meeting.

In addition to that, President Leuthard will be participating in a series of activities including a tourism event, the Sino-Swiss Business Awards and the Innofashion event, etc.

The forum will provide an opportunity for various countries to meet in a whole new setting. We hope that this bears the chance to create a new and positive dynamic, where a community of countries can work together on a common aim: increasing connectivity.

This of course entails more than mere infrastructure. The B&R Initiative has set up five pillars: infrastructure construction, investment and trade cooperation, financial cooperation, policy coordination, promotion of people-to-people exchange.

Due to our longstanding expertise in the different pillars, Switzerland can contribute to the initiative in a meaningful way. Suffice to say, with her attendance at the Forum in May, the President of the Swiss Confederation, Doris Leuthard, expresses our readiness to do so.

Panview: What are the successful experiences of Switzerland in participating in the B&R Initiative so far?

Amb. de Dardel: Our experiences so far have been positive. There are currently no concrete discussions between Switzerland and China on bilateral cooperation within the framework of Belt and Road.

The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is expected to invest in related projects. Switzerland, as one of the founding members of AIIB will thus – in one way or another – be involved in the decision-making process, the financing and perhaps the execution of such projects.

Panview: What are the business opportunities for Swiss companies from the B&R Initiative, especially for companies engaged in infrastructure, financing and insurance?

Amb. de Dardel: Switzerland welcomes the goal of China’s Belt and Road Initiative to strengthen the trade ties between China and Europe (and with the countries within the region). To enhance the connectivity among the countries on the New Silk Road, the improvement of infrastructure is a key priority.

Meanwhile, China is one of Switzerland's most important foreign trade partners, the largest market for Swiss exports in Asia and the third-largest worldwide after the EU and the US.

Therefore, the B&R Initiative offers Western and Swiss companies tremendous opportunities for potential cooperation with Chinese in the fields of infrastructure, financial and professional services, advanced manufacturing as well as transport and logistics.

Swiss banks already deal with Renminbi (RMB) business; insurance companies cooperate with Chinese partners; Swiss industrial companies contribute technologies to Chinese national owned companies; Swiss agricultural experience and know-how could well satisfy the need of converting to new-style professional farmers in China.

Opportunities for agricultural equipment companies are also on the rise, as well as a better outlook for Swiss clean tech companies.

Possible business models for partnerships with Chinese companies could be joint partnerships, technology transfer, investment funding or engineering, procurement and construction.

Panview: Switzerland has been working closely with China for decades and cooperation between the two countries has been widened and deepened in different fields. How will this summit help further advance Sino-Swiss bilateral relations?

Amb. de Dardel: When the Innovative Strategic Partnership between Switzerland and China was established in 2016, it also contained the declared intent to broaden our exchange in the multilateral field.

Understanding each other’s interests in international organizations is an important means to build trust; I would go even further than that, it signals trust.

The Belt and Road Forum is another multilateral stage that provides our two countries with an excellent opportunity for exchange, even potential collaboration, along with other stakeholders. We are thus confident that the summit will aid to further advance our bilateral relations.

Panview: What role do you think the Belt and Road Initiative can play in the fields of global climate change and environmental protection? What are potential cooperative opportunities between the two countries in this regard?

Amb. de Dardel: The B&R Initiative is all about connectivity for the promotion of the economic development in the involved countries.

Thanks to the new progresses in clean technologies and green funding mechanisms, it is possible today to combine sustained economic development on one side and environment preservation and the fight against the global warming on the other side.

The Belt and Road Initiative represents a unique opportunity to put in practices these new approaches in a comprehensive manner and to build up on the experiences and the knowledge of all participating countries.

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com)


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