According to a press release by the Federal Council, President Ueli Maurer and the Chinese President Xi Jinping have signed a declaration of intent focusing on financial and economic matters related to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI). The initiative, which aims to re-create the former Silk Route, wants to gear the infrastructure in Asia, Eastern Europe and Africa to the needs of the Chinese economy. According to the press release, Maurer recognized the major Chinese project as an opportunity “in terms of economic development, the fight against poverty and peace”.
Switzerland and China want to expand cooperation on trade, investment and finance for projects in third countries along the routes of the new Silk Route. The cooperation is to be supported by various cooperation platforms. Businesses from the two countries will be able to exchange project information and identify shared interests. The two countries also want to create a competence centre in Switzerland where projects relating to the new Silk Route can be undertaken.
During the state visit the topics addressed also included the work on expanding the free trade agreement, China’s steps towards further opening up the financial sector, the bilateral framework for cooperation in this area, and multilateral governance. With a view to the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing, the two sides discussed cooperation between Switzerland and China in winter sports. Appropriately, President Xi was presented with an official gift of a pair of Swiss-made skis.