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CRIME

Swiss tighten gun shop security after burglary spree

Gun shops in Switzerland will need to implement a range of tighter security measures, after a series of burglaries across the country.

Guns in a weapon shop in Switzerland
Guns are more popular in Switzerland than anywhere else in Europe, although the country's strong gun rules mean there hasn't been a mass shooting for 20 years. STEFAN WERMUTH / AFP

The new security requirements will come into force from January 1 but gun shops will have five years to upgrade their security systems, the Federal Department of Justice and Police said in a statement released on Thursday. 

Over the past 12 months, several arms shops have been the target of burglaries or attempted break-ins.

The new security requirements cover safety standards for doors and windows, while shops must also have video surveillance.

Gun shops will also have to keep certain weapons such as automatic firearms in a security cabinet with an alarm linked directly to the police or an alarm centre.

EXPLAINED: Understanding Switzerland’s obsession with guns

Guns are popular in Switzerland, which has the highest gun ownership rate of any European country. 

In Switzerland, where shootings are extremely rare, the attachment to arms is rooted in the tradition of militiamen keeping their rifles at home.

Weapons are therefore widespread, though it it difficult to know how many are in civilian hands in the absence of a national register.

According to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey research centre, in 2017 Swiss civilians possessed more than 2.3 million weapons — nearly three for every 10 people, putting Switzerland 16th in the world for the number of weapons per capita.

Gun laws in Switzerland are relatively tight, although politicians on the right side of the spectrum have continually called for the rules to be relaxed, in particular after attacks and terrorist incidents

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POLITICS

World Economic Forum: Globalisation under the spotlight in Switzerland

The question of whether the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine have sounded the death knell for globalisation has dominated the World Economic Forum in Swiss resort Davos.

World Economic Forum: Globalisation under the spotlight in Switzerland

Some believe the crises have unleashed an opportunity for a transformation of international trade and supply chains as the world economy slows down.

Once advocated by anti-globalisation movements, far from the quiet rooms at Davos, talk of “deglobalisation” is back in the face of supply chain disruptions linked to the Ukraine conflict and lockdowns in China.

In the hope of building stronger networks unaffected by crises like war, deglobalisation would mean bringing production back closer to home, thus allowing the movement of goods across shorter distances.

The issue has become acute after Covid-19 and the misery at Shanghai port.

The Chinese city has become a symbol of global supply chain woes after its factories were closed for weeks and containers piled up as China sticks stubbornly to a zero-Covid strategy, causing delivery delays worldwide.

And since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, global food prices have hit an all-time high as the two countries make up a huge share of the globe’s exports in several major commodities, like wheat.

Such snags are leading many, including the world’s biggest companies, to consider what production should look like in the future.

Globalisation is “temporarily pausing”, Loic Tassel, president for Europe at the consumer goods giant Procter & Gamble said during an event at Davos.

“The price to pay or the time to wait is not compatible anymore with our industry,” Tassel said, giving the example of Shanghai, which is the world’s busiest container port.

“We are now bringing into the equation the cost and resilience of the supply chain, it was not in our mind three years ago,” he said. But rather than talk about “deglobalisation”, Pamela Coke-Hamilton, director of the Geneva-based agency International Trade Centre, preferred to speak about diversification and relocalisation — where supply chains are closer and in areas where conflict is far away.

“The change will come by the shifting to near sourcing value chains,” she told AFP.

Clouds gathering 

Sceptics said companies sought the cheapest options despite being aware of the risk of huge dependence on certain regions.

“We never imported so much from China as when we said we should rely on it less,” noted Gilles Moec, chief economist at French insurance giant Axa, on the sidelines of Davos.

“One of the reasons why people are so nervous right now is that if China was unable to meet global demand because of the pandemic, that would be a catastrophe,” he added.

Globalisation’s identity crisis comes at a time when pessimism reigns over the future of the global economy.

“The horizon has darkened,” said International Monetary Fund head Kristalina Georgieva at Davos on Monday.

And while a global growth forecast of 3.6 percent excludes the risk of recession right now, “it doesn’t mean it is out of question” for certain countries.

The clouds are already gathering in developed countries, according to data from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

There was only 0.1 percent growth in the first quarter of 2022, the OECD said Monday, and GDP even fell by 0.1 percent among G7 countries.

The second quarter is likely to be equally sluggish, as the adverse effects of the Ukraine war and China’s lockdowns take root.

After governments spent copiously during the pandemic, “the response to put in place is not obvious and that worries everyone a little,” Axa’s Moec said.

Meanwhile, inflation is pushing central banks, including the US Federal Reserve, to raise interest rates, which will make it costlier for both companies and consumers to borrow and slow economic activity.

The European Central Bank signalled Monday the end of negative rates despite the European Commission’s growth forecast for 2022 last week for the eurozone, from four percent to 2.7 percent.

And figures from China, the global engine of growth, revealed the pain inflicted by Beijing’s strict zero-Covid policy as retail sales and factory production slumped to their lowest in over two years, while unemployment is near record levels.

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