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Cash boost for luring foreign investors

More than 500 foreign businesses set up operations in Switzerland last year

(swissinfo.ch)

Parliament has approved a credit of SFr9.8 million ($7.45 million) for the next two years to encourage foreign investment in Switzerland.

The House of Representatives followed the Senate in approving the budget of Location Switzerland, an organisation run by the economics ministry.

The Senate had already approved the credit unanimously during parliament's autumn session. But it was rejected by the House of Representatives.

The House has now voted in favour of the funding after centre-left Social Democrats were won over by the promise that ecological and social considerations would be taken into account when attracting foreign businesses.

The centre-right Radical Party and Christian Democrats argued in favour of the credit, saying it was necessary if Switzerland was to remain competitive internationally.

Job creation

They said Switzerland needed to promote itself in emerging markets in order to attract foreign firms that could create jobs to replace those that had been lost due to outsourcing.

Location Switzerland was set up in 1996 to assist foreign companies interested in setting up operations in the country.

The organisation's key selling points are Switzerland's central location in Europe, its highly qualified workforce and low corporate taxes. Its support includes providing advice on land acquisition, and work and residency permits.

The credit is limited until 2008 when the government is expected to restructure the various state-controlled organisations promoting Switzerland abroad and place them all under one roof.

swissinfo with agencies

Key facts

In 2004, 526 foreign companies set up offices in Switzerland, creating 2,289 jobs, according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs.
That was 18% more companies than in 2003 and an increase of 9% more jobs.

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