In the winter half-year of 2020/2021, the second wave of the coronavirus will have an adverse effect on the Swiss economy. The Expert Group is therefore revising its GDP forecast for the coming year downwards. If the health situation eases, growth is likely to increase significantly as time goes on, although uncertainty remains extremely high.
Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and the Rt Hon Elizabeth Truss MP, the UK’s Secretary of State for International Trade, signed the Services Mobility Agreement (SMA) on 14 December 2020 in London. The agreement secures reciprocal, facilitated market access for service providers from Switzerland and the United Kingdom from 1 January 2021.
Switzerland's true strength lies in its cohesion! Those were the words of the President of the Swiss Confederation for 2021 as he addressed the Federal Assembly a few minutes after his election. The motto of the newly elected president is clear: We are stronger together. In these particularly turbulent times, cohesion is essential, he said in his acceptance speech. We all face the same challenges.
The Federal Council approved on 4 December 2020 an agreement between Switzerland and the UK on the mobility of service suppliers. The agreement provides reciprocal, facilitated market access for service suppliers to close a looming gap after the agreement on the free movement of persons between Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK) will cease to apply as of 1 January 2021. The conclusion of this agreement is part of the Federal Council's "mind-the-gap" strategy following the UK’s exit from the EU.
On 19 November, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, as the representative of the host state of the World Trade Organization, opened the virtual event to mark the organisation's 25th anniversary. The event, entitled 'WTO at 25: Past, Present and Future', offered an opportunity to discuss the organisation's successes and its ongoing challenges.
The Federal Council intends to increase the amount available for the hardship support programme to CHF 1 billion and to increase the Confederation's share to around two thirds. Furthermore, short-time working compensation payments are to be extended. In sport, professional and semi-professional clubs will receive support in the form of non-repayable contributions.
On 10 November, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, the head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER), held a virtual discussion with the ASEAN Secretary General, six ministers of economic affairs and four vice ministers and state secretaries of ASEAN countries. It was the first time that such an exchange had taken place and was intended to identify possible areas of economic cooperation.
At its meeting on 28 October, the Federal Council decided to nominate Philipp Hildebrand for the post of Secretary-General of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) to succeed Secretary-General Angel Gurría, who will leave office at the end of May 2021.
For the first time, the winners of the two prestigious Swiss science prizes, the Marcel Benoist Swiss Science Prize and the Latsis Prize, are being announced at the same time. In this anniversary year, the Marcel Benoist Swiss Science Prize, often referred to as the Swiss Nobel Prize, goes to Rudolf Aebersold (ETH Zurich/University of Zurich) for his pioneering work in the field of systems biology. The National Latsis Prize, awarded to young researchers under the age of 40, goes to Maryna Viazovska (EPF Lausanne) for her ground-breaking mathematical problem solving. The Swiss science prizes will be presented by Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin at an awards ceremony in Bern on 4 November.
Consumer sentiment in Switzerland has largely recovered from its slump in April. Expectations regarding general economic development have improved, but those regarding the labour market remain very negative. Accordingly, respondents believe that now is not a good time to make major purchases.
The Expert Group for economic forecasting is largely confirming its previous assessment and expecting the sharpest fall in GDP in decades for 2020. The low point is set to be reached in the second quarter. Provided that further waves of the pandemic with severe containment measures do not materialise, the economy should begin to recover from the second half of the year.
Switzerland is to contribute CHF 879 million to the coffers of the International Development Association and of the African Development Fund to help fight poverty, promote sustainable development and deal with the health, social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 crisis on the world’s poorest countries. Switzerland is also contributing CHF 115 million to the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative.
What stresses wild bees? Is it certain plant-protection products, the absence of nutrient-rich foods – or a combination of both factors? Together with research partners throughout Europe, Agroscope, the Swiss center of excellence for agricultural research, is investigating these issues.
Horizon Europe, the EU’s next Framework Programme for Research and Innovation, is due to start in 2021. Along with three other initiatives, Horizon Europe forms the ‘2021–2027 Horizon package’. The Federal Council requests the Parliament to approve CHF 6,154 billion in funding. If the funds are granted, the Federal Council and the EU will be able to renew their bilateral research agreement and secure Switzerland’s continued and uninterrupted participation in the Horizon package as an associated state.
Decision support for car buyers: Researchers at the Paul Scherrer Institute have developed a web tool called the Carculator that can be used to compare the environmental performance of passenger cars in detail. The program determines the environmental balance of vehicles with different size classes and powertrains, and presents the results in comparative graphics. The entire life cycle of the passenger cars is taken into account.
The Federal Council agreed a guarantee scheme to support promising startups encountering liquidity problems caused by the coronavirus. The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs SECO has thus set out the practical criteria for this in consultation with interested cantons and the loan guarantee organizations. Loan guarantee applications can be submitted from 7 May up to 31 Au-gust 2020.
Switzerland intends to contribute CHF 297 million to capital increases at the World Bank Group WBG and the African Development Bank AfDB, They support developing countries by granting loans and providing technical assistance. The Federal Council adopted the relevant dispatch on 19 February 2020.
At the invitation of Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, a group of ministers responsible for World Trade Organization matters and WTO General Director Roberto Azevêdo met in Davos on 24 January to discuss and define their priorities for the 12th WTO ministerial conference to be held from 8 to 11 June 2020 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
Councillors Guy Parmelin and Ueli Maurer – who are, respectively, the head the
Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (EAER) and the
head of the Federal Department of Finance (FDF) – met with China’s First Vice
Premier Han Zheng. The meeting took place in Rüschlikon at the launch of a
capacity-building platform that has been set up as part of China’s Belt and
Road Initiative (BRI).
The consumer price index (CPI) remained stable in December 2019 compared with the previous month, remaining at 101.7 points (December 2015 = 100). Inflation was +0.2% compared with the same month of the previous year. The average annual inflation reached +0.4% in 2019.These are the results of the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).