Swiss finance risks ‘wasting away’: banker

Switzerland must immediately settle its tax rows with countries such as France or its banks will lose many clients, the head of the Swiss Private Bankers Association (SPBA) says.

Swiss finance risks 'wasting away': banker
Private banker Nicolas Pictet sounds warning. Photo: Swiss Private Bankers Association

"We need to quickly find a solution that will not push clients who have put their trust in Swiss banks to seek refuge in other countries," Nicolas Pictet told reporters in Bern on Thursday.
Faced with mounting international criticism that its banking practises enable wide-scale tax evasion in other countries, Switzerland reached
agreements last year with Britain, Austria and Germany to ease its cherished bank secrecy.
The accords with London and Vienna took effect on January 1st, but the German parliament ended up blocking that country's deal last last year.
Under the agreements, foreigners that deposit undeclared funds in Switzerland maintain their anonymity but are taxed by Bern, which in turn
transfers the revenues to the account holder's country of origin.
Switzerland is also in the process of negotiating similar deals with Greece and Italy, but neighbouring France has so far refused to discuss any agreement on regularising undeclared French funds stashed in Swiss banks.
"We have not yet found a modus operandi," Pictet told AFP, stressing the urgent need to clarify the situation.
"For Swiss private banks, the quicker the better," he added.
While bilateral tax deals topped Switzerland's foreign relations agenda in 2012, Pictet stressed Thursday that Bern should now focus more on reaching deals with the EU on financial services.
"Due to the crisis, the countries that surround us are closing in on themselves," he said, pointing to a sharp rise in European directives in this
While acknowledging that the directives aim to protect investors and ensure smooth sailing for the markets, Pictet pointed out that they also often have unstated goals: "to raise barriers to block access to markets by outside operators."
If the situation was not quickly brought under control, Switzerland risked seeing its all-important financial services sector waste away, he cautioned.

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Switzerland and Italy hope to deliver cross-border worker tax deal ‘by 2021’

Switzerland and Italy have pledged to conclude a long-awaited tax arrangement for cross-border workers by the end of the year.

Switzerland and Italy hope to deliver cross-border worker tax deal ‘by 2021’

At a meeting in Rome between Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga and Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte, the two leaders said progress was being made on a cross-border tax arrangement. 

The agreement, originally negotiated in 2015, has as yet not been signed by either state. 

READ: How Switzerland avoided a coronavirus 'catastrophe' by protecting cross-border workers 

A 1974 agreement between the two countries doesn’t define cross-border worker. 

Sommaruga praised Switzerland’s decision to reject an initiative which would have restricted migration from EU countries and perhaps had impacts on cross-border workers. 

“In last Sunday's referendum, the Swiss people once again said that they want the free movement of people. It is a good thing for our country but it is also a good thing for the whole of Europe,” she said. 

“With neighbouring countries, Switzerland has adopted a regional approach excluding border regions and also cross-border workers from the quarantine regime. 

“I hope we can continue like this.”

While Switzerland rejected the migration limitation initiative, Ticino was one of four of Switzerland’s 26 cantons to vote in favour. 

Conte told reporters he hoped a deal was concluded “as soon as possible” and hoped it would be concluded by 2021. 

Conte hailed Italian cross-border workers as essential to the health system in the southern Swiss canton of Ticino, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic. 

READ: How Switzerland's cross-border workers are growing in number 

In the canton of Ticino, one in five healthcare workers lives over the border in Italy – approximately 4,000 people. Ticino’s population swells from approximately 360,000 people to 440,000 during an average work day due to cross-border workers from Italy.

Unlike with Italy, Switzerland has struck a tax deal for cross-border workers from neighbouring France, which was amended during the coronavirus pandemic.