Switzerland has for the first time been invited to take part in this year’s meetings of the finance ministers and central bank governors of the G20 group of the world’s most economically powerful countries, despite not being a member.
Russia, which took over the G20 presidency in December, extended the invitations to Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf and to Thomas Jordan, chairman of the Swiss National Bank, the finance ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.
"It is important for Switzerland to be involved at this level,” it quoted Widmer-Schlumpf as saying.
“We will make constructive contributions in terms of our know-how as an important financial centre and we will be able to have an increasing influence when weighing up important decisions for the international financial system.”
Switzerland will also participate in technical working groups and preparatory meetings.
The Russian invitation cited Switzerland’s important role in the international financial system and its “positive and fruitful cooperation within the scope of the bilateral financial dialogue with Russia”.
The two countries hold regular meetings to discuss financial issues between them, and to exchange information and know-how, the spokesman of the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters, Mario Tuor, explained to swissinfo.ch.
The first finance ministers’ meeting of 2013 will take place February 15 and 16 in Moscow and will be followed by three more later in the year. Two will be held during the meetings of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in Washington in April and October and the other will be in Moscow in July.
The G20 meetings of finance ministers are different from the annual G20 summit, which involves only member countries and will be held in St. Petersburg in September.
The G20 countries represent 90 per cent of the world’s GDP.