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Couchepin to fly Swiss flag in Hanover

The Hanover industrial fair runs until Saturday.

(www.hannovermesse.de)

The Swiss economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, is to visit the world's largest industrial fair in Hanover on Monday.

The Hanover fair is the international hub of high-tech, cutting-edge industrial technology and is considered a sensitive barometer of underlying business trends.

"The fair is of crucial importance for Switzerland's economy and especially its export sector," explained Stephan Meier, head of public relations at Osec Business Network Switzerland, the organisation which promotes Swiss foreign trade.

"It's the biggest investment goods fair in the world, so the Swiss machinery producers and also companies in the sub-contracting industry are once again present in big numbers," he told swissinfo.

A total of 195 Swiss firms are present at this year's fair, making Switzerland the fourth largest exhibiting nation, after Germany, Italy and France.

Main trading partner

Swiss economic relations with the host country have been close for many years, with Germany ranking as Switzerland's main global trading partner.

Figures published by the Germany-Switzerland Chamber of Commerce in Zurich suggest 2001 was another record year for the exchange of goods between the two countries.

The trade volume between Switzerland and Germany rose last year by 4.3 per cent to SFr71.2 billion ($42.81 billion), while German exports to Switzerland totalled SFr41.9 billion, a figure which represents 32.2 per cent of total Swiss imports.

Switzerland last year increased its exports to Germany to SFr29.3 billion, representing 3.6 per cent of total German imports.

"Switzerland - surprisingly European"

Couchepin will address a special Swiss reception at the Hanover fair on Monday evening, which is taking place under the motto: "Switzerland - surprisingly European".

Meier told swissinfo that the event would focus on how Swiss companies have adapted to the introduction of the euro and would also highlight the advantages of the bilateral accords between Switzerland and the EU.

Balz Hösly, CEO of Osec, has said that Switzerland's exports are performing well on the international market, despite less than perfect conditions that include a weak euro and slower growth in demand.

"The strategy of developing and marketing top-quality specialist products, outstanding supplier loyalty and customer-based services, as well as the bilateral agreements between the EU and Switzerland...offset Switzerland's supposed disadvantage as a non-member of the EU," he said.

The Hanover Fair runs until Saturday.

by Robert Brookes with agencies


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