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Swiss president to talk trade with Trump

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Swiss president to talk trade with Trump
This will be the first phone call between Schneider-Ammann and Trump. Photo: AFP
10:36 CET+01:00
US President-elect Donald Trump will talk with Swiss President Johann Schneider-Ammann on the phone in the coming days, the latter told Swiss broadcaster RTS on Saturday.

Trump wishes to speak “entrepreneur to entrepreneur, and politician to politician”, said Schneider-Ammann, who was head of his family's mechanical engineering business, Ammann Group, from 1988 until his election to the Swiss Federal Council in 2010.

“I'm looking forward to talking to him,” he told RTS.

This will be the first telephone conversation between the pair since Trump's election on November 8th.

Schneider-Ammann congratulated the US president-elect in a written statement the day after the election, but a phone call was not deemed necessary at the time.

Speaking to RTS, the Swiss president said the pair would now speak on the phone. 

According to the Swiss federal government, a person close to Trump's transition team offered to organize the call.

Schneider-Ammann intends to use his chat with Trump to underline the importance of free trade, which the American businessman opposes, wanting to rip up current trade deals and impose tariffs.

Switzerland is in a good place because it is “open and liberal” and that it “fights for the free market,” said Schneider-Ammann.

“We hope that he will share the philosophy of the WTO (World Trade Organization),” he said, adding that he would ask Trump to explain why, despite having the “soul of an entrepreneur”, he opposed it.

Trump's stance on trade is worrying for Switzerland, given the US is its second largest trading partner after the EU.

Following Trump's election Swiss foreign minister Didier Burkhalter said he was ready to work with Trump's administration but that “protectionism is not in our interest”.

NB: This article was amended on Dec 7th to specify that a member of Trump's transition team, not Trump himself, suggested the call, after a Swiss federal government spokesman told The Local President Schneider-Ammann "expressed himself imprecisely on Swiss TV".

"It is a misunderstanding that Donald Trump himself reached out to Switzerland," he said.

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