No extra money for export promotion
The Swiss government has rejected demands to increase funding for the country’s export promotion agency, pending introduction of major reforms.
The cabinet, at its weekly meeting on Wednesday, recommended giving a total of SFr34 million ($29.3 million) to the Osec Business Network Switzerland for the two-year period 2006-2007.
Economics Minister Joseph Deiss said the cabinet had also endorsed recommendations by the finance ministry to improve both the structure and management of Osec.
The ministry wants better coordination, more cost transparency and supervision, and a reduction in the number of companies and institutions that benefit from Osec’s services.
The report by the finance ministry said Osec should avoid competition with private and semi-official export institutions.
No extra money
Business leaders had called for an increase in funding, but the latest cabinet decision is effectively a continuation of funding policy for 2004 to 2005.
It is in line with the will of parliament, which has harshly criticised Osec’s operations.
Parliament will now have to rule on the government proposals.
In 2003, parliament rejected government proposals to give Osec a total of SFr64.2 million for the four-year period 2004-2007.
It said funding should be for more limited periods, to ensure necessary reforms were introduced rapidly.
The state-funded organisation has 1,400 members and runs a network of 14 Swiss business hubs in China, Japan, India, Russia, Brazil, as well as in European Union countries.
Osec opened its latest business hub on Tuesday, in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, to help Swiss companies doing business in the region.
Another office is due to open in Singapore in April.
swissinfo with agencies
Switzerland exported goods and services worth SFr140 billion ($120.5 billion) last year.
Exports outweighed imports by SFr9.3 billion last year, compared with SFr6.9 billion in 2003.
The main exporters are the chemical and pharmaceutical companies, the engineering industry and the watch making industry.
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