Shiny lure of Swiss taxes, labour laws


In the past few years, Switzerland has lured greater numbers of Chinese direct investments. The number of Chinese-controlled companies or branches in Switzerland has jumped from just six in 2004 to 50 in 2010.

We have identified five key factors that we believe make Switzerland a prime choice for Chinese direct investments in Europe:

  • In the heart of Europe, Switzerland is a powerhouse for high-tech manufacturing industries, global traders and financial services, powered by qualified multilingual employees and an expanding global network of treaties and conventions facilitating trade and granting Switzerland in essence a free-trade access to the EU without being a member state.
  • Swiss industry has a long tradition of actively partnering in applied research and development with leading universities such as the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich (ETH) and Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).
  • Switzerland has liberal labour laws, no “strike culture” and one of the highest labour productivity rates in Europe.
  • Swiss corporate tax and value-added tax (VAT) are among the lowest in Europe, embedded in a global network of treaties and conventions that avoid or mitigate double taxation.
  • Switzerland is praised for its political neutrality, political and monetary stability, healthy public finances, low level of bureaucracy and absence of government corruption.

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Felix Egli is a partner and head of the China desk of Vischer. He can be contacted at +41 58 211 34 90 or by e-mail at