The Business Trends and Outlook:
The major business sector in Switzerland is banking and financial services industries, which drives the country's economy.Although Switzerland has enjoyed high levels of economic prosperity, product market inflexibility and protection of select industries have impaired productivity growth.However, Switzerland has recently instituted reform in the telecommunications, rail and postal industries, which has increased competition and alleviated inflationary pressures.The business outlook looks favorable towards management consultants, as many opportunities currently exist in that area.On the export side of business, Information and Communication Technology look optimistic. Switzerland also has a growing Biotech industry that should lead to long term prospects in that area.
The Trade Agreements
One of the fundamental pillars of economic relations between Switzerland and Western Europe is the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) of 1972. The scope of the FTA covers only industrial goods. Agricultural products are excluded.With WTO negotiations practically at a standstill, northern trading powers are pushing regional free trade agreements with selected countries. In many respects the provisions of such agreements greatly exceed WTO rules and benefit primarily Swiss pharmaceutical and seed companies, as well as insurance and banks.
The Property Rights
In regards to the property rights, under the Swiss Constitution, Article 26 guarantees a right to property.
1. Property is guaranteed.
2. Expropriation and restrictions of ownership equivalent to expropriation are fully compensated.
All matters relating to intellectual property in Switzerland are delegated to the Swiss Federal Institute on Intellectual Property.Incorporated and defined in law, are regulations governing and protecting intangible immaterial property.The Swiss property law extends to industrial property and copyright protection as well.
It is interesting that in the course of my research, the Swiss still recognizes and upholds property rights to include private gun ownership.While the rest of Western Europe has largely abandoned such property rights, the Swiss have imposed few restrictions to date.
The Swiss pride themselves as being clean, honest, and hard working.With this said, in the business world, a firm hand shake with eye contact is expected upon meeting and leaving.The use of last names and professional and academic titles are used.Poor posture is frowned upon.The Swiss are very punctual and business meetings are short and to the point. Business cards are acceptable in this country.
The business attire is conservative, and appearance is always neat and clean with men and women wearing suits and ties.Although, recently women can get away with wearing a business dress, it is not the most common thing to wear.Casual attire is definitely not accepted and is greatly frowned upon.
The Swiss show respect for elderly, do not chew gum, and refrain from putting their hands in their pockets while talking with people.They also address people by putting a "miss, Mrs. or Mr." in front of their name. You will not only see Swiss gentlemen opening the doors for the ladies, but also all of the Swiss people opening the doors for everyone. This is a very courteous world to live in with many high morals and manners.
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