In association with the EU Delegation to Switzerland, the Center for European Business & Affairs organizes regular meetings of the commercial attachés of all the embassies in Bern.
The number of official diplomatic representations in Switzerland is impressive: 177 states from Albania to the Pacific island state of Tuvalu maintain a presence here. While practically every state is represented in Geneva by a mission to the United Nations Office and the other international organizations, 87 states maintain their bilateral relations with Switzerland through an embassy in Bern.
It may be surprising, therefore, that it has only been for 10 years that Switzerland’s most important economic partner, the European Union, has had its own representation in Bern. The EU Delegation was appointed by Brussels to coordinate the interests of the EU member states and represent them vis-à-vis Switzerland.
Hidden Champions and Export Promoters
Since the summer of 2017, the Center for European Business & Affairs, in association with the EU Delegation, has been organizing regular meetings for the commercial attachés of all the embassies. They are invited to hear speakers who provide them with in-depth insights into the Swiss economy. Peter Dietrich, the CEO of the industry association “Swissmem,” for example, told his audience about the strong export orientation of the Swiss mechanical and electrical engineering industries and the associated opportunities and challenges. Adrian Steiner, the CEO of Thermoplan, explained how he managed to turn his family-run business into a “hidden champion” of the coffee industry whose products are now used in all Starbucks branches around the world. Daniel Küng, the CEO of the Swiss export promotion agency S-GE, talked about how his organization supports Swiss companies in their internationalization efforts. These brief presentations always lead to stimulating discussions among the participants, who are able to contribute exciting comparisons with the situation in other countries all over the world.
Connecting Bern and Winterthur
With its EU Trade Counselors’ Meetings, the Center for European Business & Affairs continues the tradition of maintaining a regular exchange between the ZHAW in Winterthur and the embassies in Bern. Various ambassadors have already been welcomed to Winterthur. Recent events include a presentation on the role of the ASEAN countries , a guest lecture by EU Ambassador Michael Matthiessen on the state of bilateral relations, and an event to celebrate a diplomatic anniversary.The strong links between the two cities are also fostered though continuing education courses, in particular the CAS in Foreign Affairs & Applied Diplomacy.
The next opportunity for students and the interested public to get another glimpse of world affairs is on 27 November 2017: Graeme Maxton, Secretary General of the Club of Rome will discuss the tension between economic growth and growing inequality with the Japanese ambassador to Switzerland, H.E. Etsuro Honda, and the Chief Economist of Avenir Suisse, Patrik Schellenbauer.