New Swiss negotiator to defend with ‘firmness’

Jacques de Watteville is the new State Secretary for International Financial and Tax Matters Keystone

Switzerland has named a replacement for its top diplomat in ongoing international tax and banking talks: Jacques de Watteville, the current ambassador to China. He replaces Michael Ambühl, who stepped down in August.

This content was published on September 4, 2013 - 15:34 and agencies

De Watteville was appointed State Secretary for International Financial and Tax Matters in the finance ministry on Wednesday.

The 62-year-old succeeds Ambühl, who led lengthy banking and tax evasion talks with the United States and negotiations with the European Union, and who left his post to become a professor at Zurich’s Federal Institute of Technology.

De Watteville has a busy agenda ahead of him: talks with France, Germany, Italy and the European Union are expected, as well as dealing with pressures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the G20 and the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) inter-governmental body.

He told reporters in Bern that he would defend Switzerland’s interests with “determination and firmness”.

Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf described the career diplomat as an “independent-minded” man with clear opinions and loyal.

The search for Ambühl’s successor was coordinated with the foreign ministry. “It is important that the foreign and finance ministries cooperate well,” De Watteville said.

Globe trotter

De Watteville began his diplomatic career in 1982 after obtaining his doctorate in law studies, working as a delegate of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and passing the bar exam.

He has also worked in London, Brussels and Beijing among other places. As head of the Economic and Financial Affairs Division of the foreign ministry between 1997 and 2003, he participated in numerous international negotiations with the EU, the OECD and the United States, and was involved in the development of Switzerland’s international financial and tax policies.

Before being sent to Beijing in September 2012, De Watteville was an ambassador and Head of the Swiss Mission to the European Union in Brussels (2007-2012) and ambassador to Syria (2003-2007).

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