• Switzerland edition
 
Bern blocks Swiss ski lift sale to North Korea
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visits site of ski resort with entourage. Photo: Korean Central News Agency

Bern blocks Swiss ski lift sale to North Korea

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

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
ETH Zurich remains top uni in Europe: QS list
Building at ETH Zurich. Photo: Roland Fischer/Wikimedia Commons

ETH Zurich remains top uni in Europe: QS list

Switzerland’s two federal institutes of technology, ETH Zurich and EPFL, rate among the world’s top 20 universities in the latest QS (Quacquarelli Symonds) rankings for 2014, published on Tuesday. READ  

Swiss housing vacancy rate rises: new figures
Photo: Theo Iff/Federal Housing Office

Swiss housing vacancy rate rises: new figures

Almost 46,000 homes in Switzerland are empty, a 14 percent increase over last year, as the national vacancy rate rose to more than one percent (1.08 percent), new government figures show. READ  

Football club fires masseuse over sex video
FC Lenzburg team: "We could not fire half the team." Photo: FC Lenzburg

Football club fires masseuse over sex video

The masseuse for the Lenzburg football club, a second division team from the canton of Aargau, was fired following a sex scandal, a newspaper reported on Monday. READ  

Swiss teen Bencic scores upset Tokyo win
Bencic showing winning form in Tokyo. Photo: Toru Yamanaka/AFP

Swiss teen Bencic scores upset Tokyo win

Rising Swiss star Belinda Bencic upset two-time Grand Slam champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 6-0 in the first round of the Pan Pacific Open tennis tournament in Tokyo Monday, maintaining recent impressive form. READ  

US buyout offer bites Nobel Biocare shares
Nobel Biocare's Zurich headquarters. Photo: Nobel Biocare

US buyout offer bites Nobel Biocare shares

US healthcare group Danaher aims to buy Nobel Biocare, the world's biggest dental implant specialist, for $2.2 billion, the companies said on Monday, causing the Swiss company's shares to dip. READ  

Mexican wingsuit flyer dies in Saint Gallen
Hikers walk below the Hinterrugg, the highest peak in the Churfirsten mountain chain. Photo: Switzerland Tourism

Mexican wingsuit flyer dies in Saint Gallen

A 39-year-old Mexican wingsuit flyer is dead following an accident in the canton of Saint Gallen, cantonal police said on Monday. READ  

Village faces tax hikes over family's social costs
Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Village faces tax hikes over family's social costs

A village in the canton of Zurich faces having to raise taxes next year because of social costs amounting to 60,000 francs a month to support a family of refugees, Blick newspaper reported online on Monday. READ  

Two kids suspected in fire that razed church
Photo: Eglise Catholique Romaine-Geneve

Two kids suspected in fire that razed church

Two children under the age of ten are suspected of arson after a catholic church in a suburban area of the canton of Geneva went up in flames at the weekend. READ  

Woman dies in 200-metre Valais mountain fall
Photo: Valais cantonal police

Woman dies in 200-metre Valais mountain fall

A 59-year-old Swiss woman died following a 200-metre fall while hiking on the Grand Muveran mountain in the Bernese Alps, Valais cantonal police said on Sunday. READ  

Swiss head to Davis Cup final after beating Italy
Switzerland's captain Severin Lüthi (left) and Stan Wawrinka carry teammate Roger Federer as they celebrate winning the Davis Cup semifinal between Switzerland and Italy. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

Swiss head to Davis Cup final after beating Italy

France will host Switzerland in the Davis Cup tennis tournament final in November after Roger Federer gave the Swiss the winning point against Italy in Geneva on Sunday. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
National
Geneva police arrest easyJet passenger over hand luggage row
Business & Money
Latest forecasts for Swiss economic growth turn less bullish
Sport
Formula One legend Schumacher to continue treatment at Swiss home
National
Former federal planning official calls for nine Swiss cantons
Features
The Local gets the lowdown on mushroom picking in Switzerland
National
Virgin boss Richard Branson's son rescued from peak of Matterhorn
National
Swiss President Didier Burkhalter's commute turns Twitter sensation
Features
High-tech cameras give dizzy view of Eiger's north face (VIDEO)
Politics
Baden municipal council strips 'nude selfies mayor' of duties
Business & Money
Switzerland stays atop competitiveness table for sixth year
National
Federal parliament secretary agrees to step down over nude selfies
Sponsored Article
Car insurance made easy online with St Bernard
National
Swiss residents pick Swedes as ideal European soul mates: survey
National
Zurich officials call project to move prostitutes to 'sex boxes' a success
National
Swiss gays recognized as parents of child born to surrogate mother
Health
Increase in mountain bike accidents keeps Swiss hospitals busy
National
Swiss policeman belatedly honoured for saving Jews from Holocaust
National
'Suicide tourists' to Switzerland double in three years: study
National
Swiss Post SMS scheme gets stamp of approval after pilot project
Business & Money
American tax evasion crackdown hits Swiss private banks' bottom line
Politics
Woman accuses Swiss politician in nude selfies scandal of lying
National
Villagers in Graubünden valley reject hydro plant to protect vultures
Business & Money
Court rules against appellation for absinthe from Neuchâtel valley
National
Two hundred passengers rescued after landslide derails Swiss train
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Germany

More news from Germany at thelocal.de

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

2,053
jobs available