• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Bern blocks Swiss ski lift sale to North Korea

Malcolm Curtis · 19 Aug 2013, 10:21

Published: 19 Aug 2013 10:21 GMT+02:00

Bartholet Machinenbau (BMF), based in Flums, signed a deal with Pyongyang to provide a cable car system for seven million francs ($7.55 million), German-language newspaper SonntagsZeitung reported.

However, last month the Swiss federal government at the last moment nixed the agreement, saying the ski lift qualified as a luxury item that cannot be exported to North Korea because of United Nations sanctions, the newspaper said.

The affected Swiss company is unhappy with the decision.

North Korea wants to boost tourism as a way to generate revenue and is planning to build a ski resort in the eastern part of the country.

The plans call for a ski area with 110 kilometres of trails, lifts, hotels and a heliport.

BMF was to deliver the parts for the cable car which were to be assembled on site by a Chinese partner of the Swiss company.

“The export would have posed no problem,” company chairman Roland Bartholet told SonntagsZeitung.

But the federal government decided to override the sale on the advice of the state secretariat for the economy (Seco), which classified the lift as a luxury product.

UN sanctions against the regime of Kim Jong-un forbid sales of luxury goods to North Korea.

The UN Security Council approved sanctions in March — following North Korea’s underground nuclear test — that impose penalties on North Korean banking, travel and trade.

Seco said the planned luxury ski resort is being built for “prestige and for propaganda” purposes of Kim’s regime.

According to a spokesman from the secretariat, it was inconceivable to imagine an ordinary North Korean citizen using the resort’s facilities.

Kim was exposed to Swiss ski resorts when he attended a private school as a teenager in Bern.

North Korea’s ambassador in Switzerland reportedly expressed his anger at the blocked sale during a meeting with Seco officials.

Story continues below…

But the federal government’s decision has been supported by foreign observers.

The issue comes to light as South Korea and the US begin a joint military exercise with 80,000 soldiers to test defence capabilities against a possible invasion from North Korea.

The exercise, which has angered North Korea, is the second this year, although it comes as tensions between North Korea and South Korea are starting to ease.

North Korea agreed on Sunday to a South Korean proposal to resume a programme next month that allows families separated by the 1950-53 Korean War to be reunited.

Malcolm Curtis (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Van Gogh, Monet paintings seized in Malaysia graft probe
The works were seized following a request from the United States, one of several countries probing alleged massive fraud at the Malaysian state fund 1MDB. Photo: AFP

Switzerland has seized a painting by Vincent Van Gogh and two others by Claude Monet as part of the global investigation into Malaysia's scandal-tainted sovereign wealth fund, an official said on Friday.

IOC reports more doping failures pre-Rio
President Thomas Bach said the retesting showed the IOC's commitment to fight doping. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee reports 45 new doping failures from Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

Swiss pilots: don’t hunt Pokémon from the air
Pokemon hunting has become a world-wide craze. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The Swiss civil aviation office hears reports of people playing the popular new game from helicopters.

‘Nelson’ the black swan found dead in Montreux
File photo: Noel Reynolds

The non-native swan caused a media storm earlier this month.

Zurich school threatened over links to Erdogan opponent
File photo: Aris Messini/AFP

School targeted over claims it is associated with Fethullah Gulen.

Violent storms hit Switzerland as planet heats up (again)
File photo: Benjamin Benson

Globally, June 2016 was the hottest month on record.

Swiss sports court upholds ban on Russian athletes
Russia's Yelena Isinbayeva (centre) is among the athletes affected. Photo: Kirill Kudryavtsev/Wang Zhao/Greg Baker/AFP

The decision by Lausanne's Court of Arbitration for Sport is a "funeral for athletics" said one Russian athlete.

Swiss Post moves to accept debit cards – sometimes
Photo: Swiss Post

By December customers will be able to pay for products (but not their bills) by debit card.

Study: a fifth of Swiss spy on neighbours
22 percent admit to watching their neighbours. File photo: Chase Elliott Clark

And 40 percent of Swiss feel watched in their homes.

Spectacular Valais ‘bisse’ to feature on new banknote
The bisse d'Ayent. Photo: Commune of Ayent/ayent.ch

The canton's historic irrigation channels will take pride of place on the new 100 franc note.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Photo: Grand Tours Project
Features
Why you should get on your bike in Switzerland
Photo: The Local
Society
Swiss village tells landlords: don’t rent homes to refugees
Photo: Rolf Krahl/Christophe G
International
Survey: world willing to pay more for ‘Swissness’
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Photo: The Local
International
Chaos in Como after Swiss send back refugees
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: AFP/The Local
Lifestyle
Nine top celebrity hotspots in Switzerland
Photo: Graubunden police
National
World-class Swiss climber Norbert Joos dies on ‘home mountain’
Photo: Kathleen Waters
Society
Italian ‘ignored’ by Swiss schools in language wars
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Photo: Whitepod
Features
The quirkiest places to stay in Switzerland
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
International
Migrant busted trying to sneak into Switzerland in a suitcase
Photo: Jonathan Kos-Read
National
Basel suffers wettest six months for 150 years
Photo: Georges Gobet/AFP
Technology
Why Swiss science could suffer badly from Brexit fallout
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Photo: Robert Valencia
International
Swiss couple in Nicaragua told to give back adopted daughter
Photo: Zurich cantonal police
National
Police hunt prisoner on the run in Zurich murder case
Photo: Christoph G
Politics
Switzerland sets out law on expelling foreign criminals
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: Bernacqua
Lifestyle
Drone shocks nudists at Swiss waterpark
Photo: Basel Justice and Security Dept
Lifestyle
New signs lay down law and order for Basel prostitutes
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Photo: Daniel Orth
Education
Muslim school kids denied passport for refusing swimming lessons
Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP
Politics
Swiss-EU talks ‘must’ resume this summer, says President
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
File photo: Kochtopf
National
Anger as Swiss council plans non-pork school lunches
File photo: Jen/Flickr
Society
Geneva could get 'café fellatio' by end of year
Features
How Switzerland's scenery inspired some of the world's greatest authors
4,633
jobs available