Despite opposition from business associations, the Swiss cabinet approved the “Swissness legislation” on Wednesday that aims to tighten rules over the use of the “Made in Switzerland” designation as well as the Swiss cross.
Arguments from Swiss businesses that it would hurt competitiveness of their products because of the strong franc did not stop the cabinet from approving the Swissness legislation passed by parliament on June 13, 2013. The legislation which comes into force from January 1, 2017 clearly spells out the conditions under which businesses can claim their products as being Swiss made.
Agricultural produce of plant and animal origin (including milk and milk products) need to be 100% domestic in order to use the Swiss label while for food products 80% of the raw material must be sourced within Switzerland. The legislation also allows exceptions in certain cases where raw material is sourced from the border zones of Pays de Gex and the Haute Savoie region. Other border zones will count only if they have been managed by Swiss farmers since January 2014.
Water was a bone of contention, as the government did not want a scenario where companies could simply add Swiss water to their recipe and call the final product Swiss. However, Swiss brewers would not be in a position to produce “Swiss beer” if water is not taken into account. As a compromise, it was decided that Swiss water would count towards Swissness only if it confers essential characteristics of the product and is not used for dilution.
Special provisions have also been made for products like coffee and dark chocolate where the ingredients are not available in Switzerland. For such products, companies will be allowed to claim Swiss origin provided they are completely processed in Switzerland. Milk chocolate on the other hand must fulfill conditions for indigenous raw materials (Swiss milk) to claim Swiss origin.
Industrial goods can claim to be made in Switzerland if at least 60% of the production costs are realised in the country. There will also be the possibility of registering non-agricultural “geographical indications of source” in a new register such as “Genève” for watches or “Valais” for mineral water.
Swiss businesses are not obliged to adopt the made in Switzerland label but those that do must meet the conditions laid down by the new legislation.
The Swiss cabinet is also examining a proposal submitted by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry to tighten rules regarding the use of the word “Swiss” by watch brands. The watch industry association doesn’t just want 60% of the production costs to be realised in the country but is also demanding that the technical development of the watch and the watch movement must also be done in Switzerland to merit a Swiss label.
swissinfo.ch and agencies