Swiss companies are largely staying tight-lipped over the impact on travel plans for their employees following a partial ban on arrivals into the United States. Speaking to Swiss public television SRF, Martin Naville, CEO of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, said the situation is “still total chaos”.
The US travel ban on citizens from seven Muslim countries at the weekend has been met with widespread incredulity and confusion across the world. Switzerland has condemned the move as “discriminatory”.
“Currently there is still total chaos,” Naville told SRF on Monday. “On Saturday, even holders of visas and green cards, those who legally lived in the United States, are likely to never return to America.”
“It's a huge mess that Donald Trump has, probably not quite unintentionally, created to show his constituents that he is an active and energetic President. It is a very unfortunate chapter in history,” he added. “If the entry ban remains in force, it is the US economy and science that will be the first to suffer.”
However, Naville held out hopes that the US courts would step in to water down, or even quash, the Presidential order. The courts have already acted to temporarily halt the deportation of visa holders. The seven affected countries are Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Yemen and Syria.
“Fortunately, America has a system that can correct itself very quickly,” said Naville. “I hope that America, the country with the strongest separation of powers, will put things right again so that, above all, people who live in the United States can return home, and those who travel to America for good reasons, can do so once again.”
Many Swiss companies are assessing how the Presidential order could potentially affect the movements of their employees.
Engineering firm ABB said it had seen no immediate impact, but was closely following developments – as is UBS bank and pharmaceutical firm Novartis.
Swiss International Air Lines said its business was unaffected, but noted that some passengers had experienced difficulties in getting into the US. Credit Suisse and commodities trading giant Glencore declined to comment to SDA.
Swiss trade with the US has been steadily increasing over the last few years. Swiss exports to the US rose 14.6% last year to a record CHF31.5 billion – the brightest geographical spot for Swiss goods in 2016. Swiss companies employ some 300,000 people in the US.