Die Initianten der Selbstbestimmungsinitiative behaupten, dass die Wirtschaft von der Vorlage nicht negativ betroffen sei. Dies kann nicht ohne Widerspruch bleiben. In meiner Tätigkeit für Swiss Re und die Internationale Handelskammer (ICC) erlebe ich tagtäglich, wie wichtig stabile und berechenbare Beziehungen für eine funktionierende internationale Wirtschaft sind.
According to Thomas Wellauer, Chairman of ICC Switzerland and Group COO of Swiss Re, the “Self-Determination Initiative” (SDI) weakens Swiss companies abroad.
An acceptance would be fatal for the Swiss export industry.
Thomas Wellauer, according to SDI supporters, the survival of Swiss democracy is at stake on 25 November. Would you agree?
No. Direct democracy is firmly anchored in Switzerland, nobody questions that. The Swiss people can already vote today on all important foreign policy decisions. The Swiss People’s Party (PP) is concealing what is really at stake in this radical proposal: The success of Switzerland as an export nation. As the Swiss National Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce, we want to ensure that our companies continue to enjoy good conditions for their activities abroad.
Why do you see this framework in danger?
The fact that Swiss companies are so successful on the world market is primarily due to our outstanding products and services. But we also need a reliable legal basis for our activities in other countries. This consists of a dense network of international legal agreements for free trade, investment protection, the protection of intellectual property, etc. With the SDI, we risk weakening this network massively.
The initiators stress that self-determination also strengthens the business location.
The SDI is ignoring the framework. We amend our Federal Constitution several times a year by the means of referenda. Until today, Switzerland is using common sense to seek pragmatic solutions if there is a contradiction in certain aspects. However, the SDI stipulates that the contract must then be renegotiated and, if necessary, terminated. In extreme cases, we would even have to disregard contracts before they are terminated. Putting this to practice, we are signaling that commitments we have made are of little importance to us. Our partners take such signals very seriously.
But other countries also disregard international law.
That may be true - but Switzerland is neither a great power nor a rogue state. Our companies have every interest in ensuring relations with other states run smoothly. For example, we depend on other states not undermining arbitrarily investment protection by discriminatory legislative changes. However, if in case of doubt Switzerland itself no longer wants to comply with its obligations, it cannot demand this kind of protection of its companies of other countries either. In that way we also endanger the investments of our companies. But that is only one side of the problem...
What's the other one?
Today, Switzerland enjoys an excellent reputation as a contractual partner because we stand by our obligations. This makes it possible to conclude advantageous agreements with many countries. Contrary to our European neighbors, we also have a free trade agreement with China. Accepting the SDI, we would place all agreements under a permanent reservation and our reputation would quickly be ruined. And then it will be much more difficult to conclude further agreements.
ICC Switzerland has a co-organized a seminar on «Trust and Arbitration», on which occasion the new 2018 ICC Clause on Trust and Arbitration have been launched. The event took place on 1st November at Bär & Karrer in Zurich.
To stimulate and facilitate the exchange with international organisations and the respective diplomatic representations in Geneva, ICC Switzerland continues its Geneva Business Dialogue with a series of high-ranking roundtables. The third of such discussions, on the topic of extraterritoriality, took place on 1st October 2018.
The topic was based on an ICC issue paper on extraterritoriality which has been adapted in order to put the issue back on the table. Matthias Audit, Chairman of the Working Group, introduced the discussion with the negative Impact of Extraterritorial Application of National Legal Norms on International Business Transactions. His speech was followed by a panel with companies.
In the discussion, a multiplication of extraterritorial and protectionist measures worldwide were ascertained. It is no longer a single appearance. And this is why everyone will learn, since all are now on the receiving side. One member of the panel reminded us to look at history: usually national norms have multiplied first, afterwards bilateral agreements have been negotiated and as a last step a multilateral framework has been created. He is optimistic in view of a possible regulation of extraterritorial norms and is also of the opinion that a large part of the issue is not really Extraterritoriality, but rather a conflict between companies with a global reach due to economic globalization and states that are forcing their diverging views on those companies. It is inevitable that more extraterritorial norms will be issued. But he also thinks that this will lead companies, facing those laws, to push their countries to act on them. Those countries are hopefully going to adopt a more converging solution.
ICC Switzerland would like to thank Matthias Audit and the members of the panel: David Frick, Nestlé, Jean-Yves Art, Microsoft, Eric Seassaud, VINCI Construction Grands Projets and Nikolaus Schultz, ICC International, for the success of this event.
ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR, ICC Switzerland and its Commission on Arbitration and ADR are organizing a seminar on «Trusts and Arbitration», on which occasion the new 2018 ICC Clause on Trust and Arbitration will be launched. The event will take place on 1st November at Bär & Karrer in Zurich.
Dr. h.c. Michael Kohn, Chairman of the ICC Energy Commission 1980 – 1994 passed away in Zurich on September 7, 2018 at the age of 92 years.
The ICC held its first Energy Conference in Lisbon in 1980. One of the conclusions of the conference was that the ICC established an Energy Commission under the chairmanship of Michael Kohn (Switzerland). His long chairmanship lasted 14 years, until he stepped down in 1994. As Honorary Chairman, he then continued as an active member of the Commission for many years representing Switzerland.
During Michael Kohn´s chairmanship many energy and environment related ICC policy papers and statements were prepared and published at relevant fora, e.g. Policy Statement on the Uses of Nuclear Energy and Coal 1981, Study on Energy Conservation in Industry 1985, Policy Paper on Some Principles of Energy Consumer Taxation 1987, ICC Energy Commission Report Nuclear Energy After Chernobyl 1989 and ICC Business Charter for Sustainable Development 1990.
During Michael Kohn´s era cooperation relations were set up with the ICC Commission on Environment , the World Energy Council WEC and UNEP. Strong business delegations were organized for participation and lobbying in the process of sustainable development: e.g. Bergen Conference Action for a Common Future 1990, Second World Industry Conference on Environmental Management WICEM II in Rotterdam 1991, UN Conference on Environment and Development UNCED, Rio 1992 , UN Framework Convention on Climate Change, UN Convention on Biodiversity and UN Commission on Sustainable Development (Agenda 21).