Swiss President Ueli Maurer meets Chinese President Xi Jinping

Press release, 29.04.2019

On Monday, 29 April, Swiss President Ueli Maurer was received by Chinese President Xi Jinping for a state visit. The official talks focused on ways of further developing the very good relations between Switzerland and China, economic and financial policy matters, and the Belt and Road Initiative.

Swiss President Ueli Maurer meets Chinese President Xi Jinping
Swiss President Ueli Maurer meets Chinese President Xi Jinping © Gabriele Battagalia / RSI

Both sides acknowledged the good bilateral relations that exist between the two countries. President Maurer spoke of a historic high in terms of the frequency of visits and the range of common topics. The two countries are conducting bilateral dialogues in around 30 areas, covering issues such as human rights, science, finance and tax matters.

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. The Swiss delegation advocated that disputes on trade should be resolved in a multilateral framework. With a view to the 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Beijing, the two sides discussed cooperation between Switzerland and China in winter sports, referring to the relevant declaration of intent between Switzerland and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce. Appropriately, President Xi was presented with an official gift of a pair of Swiss-made skis. At the invitation of President Maurer and President Xi, Olympic medalist and world champion Wendy Holdener also attended the state banquet on Monday.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) focusing on financial and economic matters related to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was signed. The aim is for both countries to expand cooperation on trade, investment and finance for projects in third countries along the routes of the BRI. Cooperation will be based on five key principles: private capital for private projects, sustainable handling of debts, consideration of social impacts, environmental protection criteria, and transparency. The MoU contains a catalogue of basic principles for cooperation in line with international standards and legislation in the countries concerned and consistent with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

The MoU will provide support to a variety of cooperation platforms: it aims to facilitate forums and working groups for businesses that aim to exchange project information, identify shared interests and facilitate cooperation between businesses from Switzerland and China in third markets. In order to improve the general conditions in which private cooperation takes place, it is planned to establish a working group involving the authorities concerned. Switzerland and China are also encouraging initiatives to create a ‘BRI Competence-Building Platform’ in Switzerland for the stakeholders from China and countries in which BRI-related projects are carried out. Mr Maurer highlighted the opportunities presented by the BRI in terms of economic development, the fight against poverty and peace.

President Maurer was received by Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Sunday. During his time in China he also met with Vice Prime Minister Liu He, Finance Minister Liu Kun and the Governor of the central bank Yi Gang. The official Swiss delegation included State Secretary Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, the director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), and State Secretary Daniela Stoffel, director of the State Secretariat for International Financial Matters (SIF), who signed the MoU concerning the BRI.