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Export promotion and investment protection
The federal government supports Swiss companies at home and abroad by promoting exports and protecting investment. The Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), in conjunction with Swiss embassies and consulates, provide a broad range of services. In recent years this has focused increasingly on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Switzerland’s approximately 150 embassies and general-consulates offer Swiss and Liechtenstein-based companies:
- standardised information and advice
- an organisation service for participation in trade fairs
- assistance with establishing contacts and arranging access to official bodies abroad
- representation of the interests of Swiss companies
- interventions with government authorities
In particularly important, traditional and emerging markets, the federal government operates, in collaboration with Switzerland Global Enterprise, Swiss Business Hubs that offer a wide range of services. These hubs currently exist in Austria, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Poland, Russia, Spain, South Africa, Turkey and the USA, as well as in Dubai for the Gulf Cooperation Council GCC and in Singapore for the countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
The services offered by these hubs include:
- arranging introductions to business partners
- promotion of business location Switzerland
With one exception, the Swiss Business Hubs are attached to the official representation network of the FDFA; in Austria it is managed by the bilateral chamber of commerce.
The supreme objective of export promotion is to overcome existing inhibition thresholds. It also facilitates access to all foreign markets by arranging contacts and providing expert advice for Swiss companies that are capable of becoming exporters and interested in doing so, especially SMEs.
Swiss SMEs are currently carrying out more and more investment abroad. Comprehensive investment protection is extremely important to the Swiss economy. To date, Switzerland has concluded over 120 Investment Protection Agreements with countries in Africa, Latin America, Asia and Europe. These govern:
- the treatment of foreign investment by the host state
- the transfer of investment earnings and other payments
- compensation in the event of expropriation
- the resolution of disputes.
Switzerland’s objectives in concluding these agreements are to improve the legal position of investors and to create a climate favourable to capital investment.
They make it possible to rectify shortcomings outside the area of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). Swiss embassies are closely involved in negotiating these agreements.