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Swiss back Russian move to stimulate growth

Finance Minister Widmer-Schlumpf (front row, third from left) amidst her colleagues from G20 member states Keystone

Finance Minister Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf has called for structural reforms and the consolidation of public finances to boost competitiveness. Switzerland took part for the first time this year in a high-level meeting of the G20 group, presided by Russia.

“Only more competition and not the portioning of markets will return the global economy to growth,” she told a news conference in Moscow on Saturday.

She added that efficient financial market regulation, such as the Basel III rules – a global regulatory standard on bank capital adequacy, stress testing and market liquidity risk – would lead to a more stable financial system, to more trust and investment.

Widmer-Schlumpf also stressed the need to take into account the financial contributions of member states when considering a governance reform of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), according to a statement by the finance ministry.

Switzerland supported Russia’s initiative for the sustainable management of and a reduction in public debts.

However, the statement does not mention a pledge by the finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s most powerful countries to crack down on tax avoidance by multinational companies.

At the news conference, Widmer-Schlumpf said any new measures should not focus exclusively on the fiscal aspects but also consider state subsidies granted to many multinational firms.

First time

At the invitation of Russia, Switzerland is taking part in this year’s major G20 meetings as well as in preparatory meetings and working groups on financial and monetary issues.

“This participation underlines Switzerland’s good bilateral relations with Russia and its position in the international financial and monetary system,” the finance ministry said.

Switzerland is not a member of the G20, but it has the 19th highest GDP according to a ranking of the World Bank from 2011.

On the fringes of the G20 conference, Widmer-Schlumpf also held talks with her Russian and German counterparts, Anton Siluanov and Wolfgang Schäuble.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR