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Swiss aim to boost productivity and foreign trade

Economics Minister Doris Leuthard says productivity needs to be increased to guarantee sustainable growth of the Swiss economy this year.

Leuthard also said regulations in the agricultural as well as electricity, telecom and postal sectors must be reduced to increase the competitive edge on domestic markets.

“We have to continue the pace of reforms and increase productivity. Cutting costs will enable us to achieve higher salaries,” she told a news conference on Wednesday.

She added that free trade negotiations with India, Japan, Indonesia and countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council were on her agenda to secure Switzerland’s position in international markets.

Leuthard came out in favour of an international code of conduct to increase transparency of state funds, amid concern over plans by such a fund in Singapore to take a stake in Switzerland’s largest commercial bank, UBS.

Switzerland is expected to record economic growth of 2.8 per cent in 2007 and increase exports and imports by about 12 per cent. The official unemployment rate last year was 2.8 per cent – the lowest level in five years.

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SWI swissinfo.ch - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR