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Washington meetings Swiss finance minister sees ‘clearly improved’ ties with US

G20 finance ministers and central bank governors

G20 finance ministers and central bank governors attending the 2018 World Bank Group/IMF Spring Meetings in Washington on April 20, 2018

(Keystone)

Relations between Switzerland and the United States have improved under the Trump administration, Finance Minister Ueli Maurer told Swiss public radio, SRF, on Saturday.

Maurer is heading a Swiss delegationexternal link, together with Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann and Thomas Jordan, Chairman of the Swiss National Bank, which is attending the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group spring meetingsexternal link in Washington from April 20-22.

Maurer, a member of the conservative right Swiss People's Party, told SRF that “relations with the US have clearly improved” compared to the previous Barack Obama presidency, which was dogged by a long-running tax dispute and fines against Swiss banks.

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Direct and improved contacts are possible between Switzerland and the US, which some people might be surprised about, he added: “The image we get of a rancorous [US] president, for example, does not correspond to reality. It’s quite remarkable and Switzerland benefits from it."

The IMF predicts an ongoing recovery of the world economy, with global growth of 3.9% in 2018. It expects the Swiss economy to be “energized” by the global recovery and reduced status as a financial safe-haven. Swiss gross domestic product should reach 2.25% in 2018 before falling to 1.75% in the mid-termexternal link. The IMF, however, warns against greater protectionism, led by the US.

Maurer said Switzerland’s export-driven economy should be able to resist such pressures thanks to it being highly diversified. "We may be less affected than other states, even if such measures are effective,” he declared.

The Swiss minister sees other problems: "At the moment we are only talking about trade. But this protectionism also applies to services. And that almost worries me more, as we have no access to the European market."

Switzerland participated in a meeting of G-20 finance minister and central bank governors ahead of the IMF and World Bank sessions. This is extremely important, Maurer added.

“I am trying to cultivate personal contacts, because it is always important for Switzerland as a small economy to have good contacts with the big ones,” he declared.

SRF/sb

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