The business week in review

A landmark trade deal, a comforting forecast for the economy and a welcome surprise from one of the country's biggest insurance companies marked the past week.

This content was published on September 30, 2000 minutes

On Tuesday, Switzerland and China finally reached agreement on a trade deal necessary for Beijing's accession to the Geneva-based World Trade Organisation.

Under the terms of the agreement, Swiss insurance firms will get three licences to operate in China. One, for non-life insurance, will go to Zurich Financial Services before China joins the WTO.

The other two will be granted shortly after China's accession. Swiss Life will get a life insurance licence and Swiss Re a re-insurance licence.

Berne also won concessions for the country's watch manufacturers and for the tourism industry.

The Swiss economy is this year set to put in its best performance in a decade according to a report issued by Credit Suisse. Economists at the bank are forecasting growth of 3.3 per cent before it slows down to 2.5 per cent in 2001.

Switzerland's largest life insurer, Swiss Life, surprised the markets on Wednesday with a first half profit increase of 61 per cent over the previous year to SFr372 million.

Gross premium income grew by 18 per cent to SFr11 billion. The company cited capital investments, operational improvements and successful acquisitions as reasons for the performance.

The food giant, Nestlé, is to begin exploratory negotiations in Japan for an extensive alliance with Snow Brands Milk products. The discussions are to centre on how to combine the strong position of Snow Brands in the Japanese market with the technology and marketing expertise of Nestlé.

swissinfo with agencies

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