China is a very important market for Swiss exports and investment, attracting large numbers of Swiss small-and medium-sized companies eager to expand their businesses and seek cooperation opportunities, a senior Swiss diplomat said.
China is rapidly developing in terms of innovation and a batch of high tech Chinese companies have emerged, said Yves Morath, counselor and head of the Swiss Business Hub China at the Embassy of Switzerland in China. He emphasized that the nation has become the most significant export market for Switzerland in Asia.
He noted China is opening its market wider to foreign investment, promoted mainly by the introduction of the new Foreign Investment Law and the shortened negative list.
"China has a huge consumer market and the biggest population in the world. The country's dramatically growing middle-income group is showing strong purchasing power, which offers opportunities for Swiss high-level and premium consumer goods," said Morath.
He added that jewelry and watches have been the fastest growing Swiss exports to China in the first half of this year. So far, there are more than 1,000 Swiss companies investing in the Chinese market.
Morath saw huge potential for cooperation in China's healthcare and medical equipment sector, supporting the country's aging population. Also, preparation for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing can draw on Switzerland's abundant experience in logistics and infrastructure.
Swiss firms have ramped up investments in the Chinese market in recent years. Schindler Group, the world's leading manufacturer of elevators and escalators, said it will continue to provide cutting-edge technologies and services to China over the long term.
China and Switzerland have recorded outstanding achievements in the field of innovation. Switzerland signed a free-trade agreement with China in 2013, the first free trade pact forged between China and a country in continental Europe.
The two countries established an innovative strategic partnership in 2016 and pledged to deepen economic and trade cooperation.
Morath said Chinese companies have also invested in Switzerland, mainly in the drone, financial, solar energy and laser sectors. He is bullish on investment prospects going forward.
"Switzerland is very strong in life sciences and can offer a lot of possibilities and opportunities for Chinese companies engaged in chemicals, pharmaceuticals and biotech and medical machinery," he said.
Switzerland has positioned itself as a leading research and innovation hub. Many famous universities in the country have a rich talent pool along with strong research and development capabilities in these fields.
The manufacturing, electrical engineering and metal industries are promising. Information and communication technology are particularly promising opportunities for Chinese internet and artificial intelligence companies in Switzerland, Morath added.
Wang Wei of the China Institute of International Studies said Swiss investments in China mainly concentrate in the fields of electrical, mechanical, pharmaceutical, chemical and food sectors in coastal areas and special economic zones.