Strengthening the competitiveness of the financial centre
Attractive regulatory conditions
In the context of financial market policy, Switzerland is committed to providing attractive, internationally competitive and consistent conditions. The Federal Council takes care to ensure that the benefits outweigh the costs in any case. The regulatory framework is continuously being optimised, simplified where possible and regularly checked for effectiveness and efficiency. In doing so, the Federal Council adheres to the tried and tested principles of financial market regulation: risk-based, principles-based, competition-neutral, technology-neutral, proportionate and differentiated. The introduction of an insurance company regime similar to that for small banks, which reduces the complexity of regulation and oversight for small, particularly sound banks, is being considered. The use of technology in regulation is being evaluated. Switzerland should continue to be an attractive location for globally active institutions to site their head office.
The Federal Council will seek more robust strategic steering and close cooperation with the cantons and the business community on Switzerland's attractiveness as a tax location whose design also takes account of the applicable international standards. As regards the financial market, the emphasis is on improving the tax framework for asset management and the capital markets in Switzerland, inter alia through the reform of stamp duty and withholding tax. In connection with the OECD/G20 project on taxing the digitalized economy, the Federal Council will advocate workable solutions that provide the affected companies with legal certainty without hampering innovation and economic growth. For the financial sector, appropriate exceptions are likewise under discussion.
The Federal Council communicates Switzerland's attractiveness as a business location, with its excellent financial conditions for international business activities, to the rest of the world. Special emphasis is placed on Switzerland's ambition as a leading location for sustainable finance. Tools for promoting Switzerland as a business location will be bundled and synergies will be exploited. The FDF takes advantage of opportunities for joint appearances abroad with the financial sector, for instance during visits by the Head of the FDF abroad.
Improving the exportability of financial services
Together with the EU and Switzerland's neighbouring countries, the Federal Council will explore workable market access solutions, including recognition of the equivalence of Swiss regulation and oversight, where this is meaningful from a macroeconomic perspective. As regards the UK, the Federal Council seeks as wide-ranging an agreement as possible on reciprocal recognition of financial market regulation and oversight, combined with close cooperation.
In its contacts with its partner countries, the Federal Council is committed to swift, plannable and results-oriented equivalence procedures and will examine the recognition of foreign legislation where possible and appropriate. The aim is to increase legal and planning certainty for cross-border business. In general, obtaining reciprocal market access is a priority. The FDF is in regular contact with its major partner countries, including the US and emerging markets in Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, and maintains the institutionalised dialogues on financial and tax matters.
The Federal Council monitors developments with regard to foreign financial market players in the Swiss market, particularly with respect to digital cross-border distribution channels. It regularly checks whether the applicable legal conditions are optimal in providing for such business models.
Aptness for international cooperation
To increase coherence and its capacity to act in financial foreign policy, the Federal Council proactively assesses possible courses of action in the area of tax administrative assistance. It examines whether additional measures are required in Switzerland as a result of international developments, and involves Parliament and other interested public groups at an early stage. This allows Switzerland to take up an early strategic position in an area of tension between national and international expectations. As part of a situation analysis, it continuously assesses the areas in which more in-depth cooperation with partner states would be in Switzerland's interest, particularly as regards the country's international reputation and market access, but also the repercussions for privacy and general procedural guarantees.
Tax arrangements with other countries
The Federal Council advocates optimal, non-discriminatory tax conditions abroad. It optimises the existing network of double taxation agreements (DTAs) and monitors compliance with existing agreements. At bilateral and multilateral level, it speaks out against measures that could jeopardise the legal certainty of the global DTA network, and ensures that domestic and foreign withholding tax is refunded swiftly and efficiently. In Switzerland, it promotes domestic capabilities in the negotiation and enforcement of transfer pricing, in particular through better coordination of the competent authorities.
Assisting to shape the international financial system
Stability and openness
At international level, the Federal Council strives to ensure that Swiss market circumstances are taken into consideration. The major guiding principles for this are a measured, risk-based design of regulations, the reduction of complexity and costs, technology neutrality, the establishment of legal certainty, implementability and the avoidance of duplication. The Federal Council is committed to the recognition and dissemination of Swiss regulatory and taxation principles. It is generally in favour of open markets and participates in international initiatives and measures to combat market fragmentation. At international level, it is an advocate of sustainable budget, monetary and financial market policies. Finally, the Federal Council is committed to a pragmatic discussion on new business models and technologies, innovative financial services and infrastructures, and improving and diversifying the international payment system, which takes both opportunities and risks appropriately into consideration.
Implementing international standards
As regards the implementation of international standards, the Federal Council follows a pragmatic and risk-based approach centred on the effects of new regulations. It also advocates the effective implementation of international standards by all states. In regulatory implementation, it takes account of the market conditions specific to Switzerland and the possible impact on other areas, especially access to foreign markets. The FDF examines areas in which a differentiated approach is appropriate, creates added value and makes sense given the conditions in the Swiss market.
Representing interests at international level
The FDF, together with the competent offices, actively promotes Switzerland's interests in the relevant committees and discussions of the IMF, FSB, OECD and FATF, as well as the G20 Finance Track. With a view to achieving the maximum effect of its international commitment, the Federal Council regularly assesses the optimum method of participation in existing and newly created international bodies dealing with finance and taxation. It strives to ensure permanent participation in the G20 on financial matters. The Federal Council observes and anticipates international developments that are of relevance for Switzerland. At an early stage, it identifies potential repercussions for Switzerland, sets priorities accordingly and takes a position. It informs Parliament at an early stage. Where appropriate, the Federal Council seeks to coordinate and align with like-minded countries.
Last modification 22.01.2021