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Basel builds bridges with Boston

An aerial view of Basel City

The Swiss canton, Basel City, and the US state of Massachusetts have signed an agreement to forge closer links. The authorities will encourage exchanges of investment and manpower, and try to improve commercial co-operation.

Jane Swift, the vice-governor of the US's third richest state, and Ralph Lewin, the head of the cantonal government of Basel, ratified the agreement on Monday at a meeting in the Swiss city.

The "Memorandum of Understanding" between the two will encourage closer links without placing any financial commitments on the local governments.

Samuel Hess, the head of economic and marketing services for Basel City, says the areas in which they would like to co-operate include business, trade, science, education, culture, arts and government services.

The two local governments will operate a reciprocal arrangement advising companies looking for business opportunities. They will also encourage the exchange of students and teachers, and staff from research institutes.

The idea of closer ties was first suggested by the International Economics Institute in Boston, and gained support from group "Friends of Switzerland" in the east coast city.

Ralph Lewin said such organisations would play an increasingly important role in future relations between the two regions and suggested the formation of a similar group in Basel - "Friends of Massachusetts".

The "Memorandum" recognises the parallels between both regions. They have local economies based on new technologies such as telecommunications, and both are recognised as centres of excellence in biomedical and pharmaceutical research.

Basel, with its rich arts life is considered by many to be the cultural centre of Switzerland, and Massachusetts has its own rich cultural mix with large Cambodian, Armenian, Polish and Portuguese communities.

swissinfo with agencies


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