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My CIIE Story • Grand Strategy | Swiss products find sweet spot at expo Release date: 2022-07-29    Source:China International Import Expo Bureau

Editor's Note: This year marks the 5th anniversary of the China International Import Expo. The CIIE Bureau and the National Exhibition and Convention Center (Shanghai) launched the "My CIIE Story" activity on June 1 to invite people who were involved in the previous CIIEs to share their stories and have received a large number of warm responses so far. We are going to publish the excellent works of "My CIIE Story" in succession. In July, the stories will center on "grand strategy", which showcases the CIIE's role in promoting key national strategies, diplomatic relationships and international public good. Let's follow the words written by the authors and look back on their wonderful moments from the past five years.

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The booth of Swiss Centers is seen at the CIIE.

This year marks my fourth year as the general manager of Swiss Centers China (SCC).

Over the past 22 years, SCC has helped more than 400 Swiss companies start businesses and make investments in China.

During the inaugural edition of the CIIE in 2018, SCC invited a number of companies, including Novartis, Migros, Fraisa, Schindler and Appenzeller Bier, to the expo. Due to the benefits that the CIIE offers, the third representative office of SCC in Shanghai was established that same year in the Hongqiao International Central Business District, where the expo takes place every year.

The Swiss ambassador to China and Swiss state secretary for economic affairs of the time also attended the launch ceremony for the office. I still remember at that moment I was confident that SCC would offer services to more Swiss companies in China. To date, the office has introduced six companies from Switzerland to Shanghai’s Minhang district.

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Kuno Gschwend presents Swiss products to visitors.

I attended the CIIE for the first time in 2019. We set up two booths that occupied about 310 square meters of space to host 16 food and consumer goods companies. Our food stand attracted many groups of visitors, exhibitors and purchasers.

The year 2020 marked the 70th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Switzerland. As such, we worked with the Swiss consulate general in Shanghai to hold a business dinner on Nov 6 on the sidelines of the third CIIE. Bernardino Regazzoni, the current Swiss ambassador to China, said during the dinner that he had an optimistic outlook for Sino-Swiss relations, and this further enhanced my confidence in the future development of SCC and Swiss companies in China.

We have seen more new companies join us and the number of exhibitors at our booth reached 26 during the fourth CIIE in 2021. Among them was chocolate manufacturer Laderach, biscuit company Kambly, winery Morand and Swiss Wine Promotion, an association that promotes Swiss wine. The CEO of SCC Xiao Zhen also visited the booth.

My colleague Romain Barrabas, who is based in Switzerland and responsible for developing Chinese market, once cooperated with Morand and reporters from China Media Group to make a short video in the Canton of Valais, Switzerland to draw more Swiss brands to China. A segment of the video was later used in a promotional video broadcast at the opening ceremony of the CIIE, which greatly thrilled my colleagues.

The CIIE has delivered huge benefits, such as facilitating the introduction of new products to China and increasing sales revenue, for its participants. SCC will participate in the fifth CIIE this year and hold various activities during the fair.

By Kuno Gschwend

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Kuno Gschwend is the general manager of Swiss Centers China. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration and can speak four languages – German, French, English and Chinese. Before joining SCC, he had worked for the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs and Swiss Federal Railways for seven years.