Camera di Commercio Svizzera - Stati Uniti (it & en)

07.09.2018

Collina d’Oro, 7.09.2018 - Discorso del consigliere federale Ignazio Cassis alla Camera di Commercio Svizzera - Stati Uniti, American School of Switzerland. Check against delivery

Speaker: Head of Department, Ignazio Cassis

Benvenuti in Ticino Signor Presidente, Caro Sergio
Signor Ambasciatore degli Stati Uniti Ed McMullen
Signora Fleming e signor Äschlimann della meravigliosa TASIS
Sehr geehrter CEO der AmCham, lieber Martin (Naville)
Signor Presidente del Ticino Chapter, Franco Polloni
Signore e Signori Benvenuti in Ticino!

Prima di tutto vorrei ringraziare il Presidente Sergio Ermotti per l’invito e per il suo instancabile impegno nel promuovere buone relazioni commerciali tra la Svizzera e gli Stati Uniti. Complimenti quindi per il tuo quarto mandato da Presidente.Un saluto speciale va anche all’Ambasciatore McMullen. I hope you have had a chance to taste some of our excellent Ticino wines between meetings. Some of our Merlots can even hold their own against the finest Tuscan wines you are very familiar with.

I’m particularly glad to be here with you today.

Economic relations CH-US – or strengthening mutual prosperity The American Community Survey shows that more than 1 million Americans have Swiss roots. There are a number of ‘little Switzerlands’ in the USA, there is even one in West Virginia with a population of only about 100 people, still speaking Swiss-German, mostly Bäärndütsch. I’m not going to bore you with the whole ‘sister republics’ speech – you’ve probably heard it many times already. But what’s important to me is to point out that both our countries share similar fundamental values.  We are strong economic partners, sharing a belief in free enterprise and the markets. I’m very pleased that both our economies are faring so well.

Our bilateral trade amounts to 110 billion dollars for goods and services. It has grown significantly in recent years, and is nearly balanced – something that seems to be a bit of a priority for your president.
The USA is Switzerland’s 2nd most important trading partner.

Switzerland is the 6th largest foreign direct investor in the US. Think about that for a second: Switzerland is the 6th largest foreign direct investor in the US – for a country of 8.5 million inhabitants, that’s quite a feat. Indirectly, our companies sustain 1.8 million jobs across all 50 states, and pay the highest average salaries. Switzerland and the USA are among the most innovative and competitive countries in the world. We are ranked 1st and 2nd respectively in the most recent WEF Global Competitiveness Index.

Our close cooperation in fields such as fintech or new technologies, not to mention vocational education, will lead to further trade growth, increased investment and new job opportunities. Free markets and free trade are key for the prosperity of our nations.

A free trade agreement, then, would certainly give additional impetus to both our economies, and we are evaluating very carefully the appropriate way to engage in such negotiations.

Recently, the National Council Economic Affairs and Taxation Committee approved, by 17 votes to 2 and 4 abstentions, a proposal recommending that the Federal Department of Economic Affairs conduct exploratory talks with the US on this matter. But let me just say that, as an open and liberal economy, we very much regret the US’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium products.

As members of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce, you know better than anybody else that Switzerland poses no threat to US national security. It is no secret that we have submitted a request to be exempted from those tariffs. Unfortunately that request has, so far, gone unanswered.

As an export-oriented economy, Switzerland is a strong advocate of respect for international trade rules.
Further escalation of trade defence measures and counter-measures will have serious consequences for the multilateral trading system. Such a scenario must be avoided.  2. CH Foreign Policy priorities Indeed, one of the objectives of our foreign policy is to promote common welfare, and our government also intends to pursue this by strengthening international free trade.

 Of course, the mandate defined in our Federal Constitution is broader than the preservation of our prosperity (Article 2).

The Swiss Confederation shall namely “protect the liberty and rights of the people and safeguard the independence and security of the country”, “promote the common welfare, sustainable development, internal cohesion and cultural diversity of the country”.

It is on the basis of those four key words that we set out our foreign policy: prosperity, security, liberty and independence.

Security issues Ours is an innovative economy. We are among the leading nations in a variety of domains, such as innovation, education and prosperity, and we are even in the top 10 of the happiest countries in the world! Here in Ticino you can certainly feel this ‘dolce vita’.

We are what we are thanks to our cultural diversity and our long tradition of direct democracy, but also because of our liberal spirit and our policy of neutrality.

Being neutral does not mean that we have no military force. Switzerland’s armed forces train for self-defence and internal security. We even have a small navy! We are aware of the challenges in hard security. To this end our partnership with NATO has been reinforced over the years since we joined the Partnership for Peace in 1996. We have provided support to NATO-led operations in the Balkans, especially in Kosovo through Swisscoy, and in Afghanistan, from 2004 to 2007. Of course, our focus remains on humanitarian law and missions, human rights and civil-military cooperation.

We too, are extremely concerned by the growing presence of threats stemming from terrorist organisations and organised crime. Sadly, some of our neighbouring countries have been the target of attacks by jihadist extremists.  Strengthening international cooperation in the fight against terrorism is a priority for the Swiss government. We are directly involved in various European Union instruments, such as Europol and Schengen.

And we have also been a member of the Global Counter-terrorism Forum, alongside the USA, since 2011.
We are convinced that even when applying counter terrorism measures, fundamental human rights should always be respected.

To this end, we are cooperating with the Law School’s Program on International Law and Armed Conflict to produce a legal analysis of potential dilemmas. Another challenge faced by all innovative and advanced economies is how to reconcile the rapid acceleration of digitalisation with the need to protect the public and ensure economic security. We need to acknowledge that criminals are coming up with ever more complex and far-reaching forms of cybercrime. The risk of cyber-attacks poses a serious threat to many businesses and individuals.

We are actively engaged in establishing an open, free and secure cyberspace, in cooperation with other nations.

As such, Switzerland hosted the last Internet Governance Forum in Geneva last December. The main objective was to exchange ideas, share best practices, and identify emerging issues.  3. Multilateralism It is well known that Switzerland is a platform for dialogue ‘par excellence’. Genève Internationale, or as I may say here in Ticino, la Suisse internationale, has long been home to many international organisations and been the venue for countless international conferences. We are a recognised centre of expertise in many areas such as: - Peace and security;

- Humanitarian action and human rights;
- Health;
- Environment and sustainable development.  We are at the forefront of multilateral diplomacy, which is why we recognise the need for this multilateral system to evolve, and adapt, to new challenges. The UN system would benefit from greater transparency and accountability towards the member states, and further steps can certainly be taken to improve efficiency. Switzerland will support the reforms initiated by Secretary-General Guterres in a constructive and practical way.

I cannot help but wonder what role and influence the US will have in this new multilateral order.

China and the BRI On the other hand, we are witnessing an ever stronger presence in the international arena of ‘new’ emerging powers, especially ‘Eastern powers’. During my recent visit to Beijing in April, I had a number of strategic talks on a variety of issues, mainly promoting free trade.

China is determined to become a leading world power, if not the leading power. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is a central element of this ambitious strategy. In this context, the Swiss government has decided to take a constructive approach to support this initiative and to directly try to influence the implementation of labour and environmental standards, in order to keep them to the highest possible level.

CH-EU relations We may be turning our attention to the east, but our priority remains the relationship with our traditional partners. Among them, our neighbours and the European Union. I mentioned earlier that our foreign policy is not only about strengthening prosperity and security, but also about preserving our liberty and independence.

The issue of independence is at the core of all our exchanges with the EU. The Swiss have not traditionally been fond of centralised power. We have never had a royal family – Prince Hans-Adam II of Liechtenstein is as close as we get! – and we are fortunate not to have had any dictators. The very idea of relinquishing some of our sovereignty to a superior entity does not sit comfortably with us.

But we are at the heart of Europe and we are very much European. We are constantly striving to find a balance between preserving our sovereignty and securing access to the Single European Market.  It is no secret that we are seeking to find a solution for an institutional partnership agreement with the EU; an instrument which would ensure the simple and effective implementation of existing and future agreements on sectoral market access. The institutional issues concern the following four areas:
1. Legal developments,
2. Monitoring application of the bilateral agreements,
3. Interpretation of law,
4. Dispute settlement. We are right in the middle of those discussions, as you can read every day in the newspapers. Just what shape the partnership with our neighbours ultimately takes, depends on several factors, many of them closely linked to domestic political considerations.

Whether or not an institutional agreement will be reached depends on the quality of the negotiated agreement. Both outcomes have their price. We remain committed to the goal of those negotiations, but we don’t want an agreement at any cost.

Finale  Stasera abbiamo parlato di Svizzera, Stati Uniti, Cina, Europa … di sfide multilaterali e di pericoli globali. Ognuno di noi, tuttavia, ha prima di tutto una radice. Un luogo dove si sente casa. “At home”. Ebbene, per me è un grande piacere potervi accogliere stasera non solo nel mio Cantone di origine, il Ticino, ma anche nel mio Comune di residenza, Collina d’Oro. Che, guarda caso, è anche il Comune di residenza del vostro Presidente Sergio Ermotti.

So, enjoy the dinner and enjoy your stay in this lovely, lovely place! Buon 30imo compleanno del Ticino Chapter! Grazie per la vostra attenzione.


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