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Swiss Companies, U.S. Jobs, Global Response

June 23, 2020

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Edward T. McMullen, Jr. is the U.S. Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein

A lot has changed in the course of just a few months in 2020. One thing that has not changed: The U.S.-Swiss business relationship remains strong and is a critical part of our overall bilateral ties. In fact, I have been impressed by the innovation and efficiency of Swiss and American companies, working together to find a solution to the pandemic. Switzerland and the United States have a long tradition of cooperation in business and research; we are natural partners, who share common values such as entrepreneurship, the rule of law, freedom, and democracy.

In my nearly three years as Ambassador, I’ve been honored to meet with Swiss companies of all sizes that are supporting jobs in the United States. During the pandemic, I’ve been excited to learn about U.S.-Swiss corporate partnerships working towards vaccines and treatments, Swiss companies that have increased production of critical healthcare equipment, and the companies that have changed their operations to produce resources for the global response. Not only did these companies take swift and decisive action in support of COVID-19, they also increased their U.S. footprint, with operations in many states across the country, thereby providing many more jobs to Americans. The current Administration’s adoption of strong economic growth policies, including low corporate tax rate, and drastic reductions in regulations greatly aided Swiss investors’ pursuit in their U.S. expansions. Our SelectUSA representative and I are in regular contact with these companies and others to assist whenever needed.

For example, Lonza, one of the world’s leading suppliers to the pharmaceutical, biotech and specialty ingredients markets, recently announced a partnership with Massachusetts-based biotechnology firm Moderna to jointly manufacture vaccines to combat the coronavirus. Our Embassy team and SelectUSA have worked with Lonza for several years, and I salute their work in this field. I and SelectUSA Investment Specialist Sandor Galambos visited the Lonza facility in Greenwood, South Carolina in May 2019 to celebrate the progress of a $46 million expansion. The event marked the ceremonial groundbreaking of the project’s second phase. Governor McMaster attended the event as well.

In a fast-track procedure, Swiss multinational healthcare company Roche Diagnostics received emergency approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to sell to labs the first commercially approved test for the coronavirus in the United States. I am grateful that Roche Diagnostics’ top-notch technology has been made available to millions of Americans and people around the world.

As part of my engagement with company principals in Switzerland, I will visit the Hamilton Medical facility in the coming weeks to witness the terrific work the company is doing for humanity. Hamilton Medical ramped up its production of ventilators at its Reno, Nevada, facility to meet the needs of the United States and more than 100 other countries. These efforts are not only beneficial in supporting global health care heroes, but also supporting hundreds of additional jobs in the United States and providing skills training to U.S. workers. President Trump mentioned Hamilton’s role in ventilator supplies at White House press briefings, and Vice President Pence welcomed the delivery of Hamilton ventilators to the national stockpile on April 8.

Firmenich, the world’s largest privately-owned fragrance and taste company, has increased its production capacity to produce hand sanitizer gel for hospitals, as well as for medical and emergency services across the United States. President of Firmenich North America Matthew Furner told me, “We all have an obligation to lead our business responsibly. We at Firmenich are proud that this is always

central to how we do business.” Mr. Furner joined the Swiss delegation to attend the SelectUSA Investment Summit in Washington, D.C., in 2019. He was a featured guest on a panel at the SelectUSA Investment Summit to hear from CEOs on the state of the industry and the myriad opportunities in the United States for potential investors in the food and beverage and agriculture sectors.

These are just a few examples of the many ways the U.S.-Switzerland partnership, led by innovative Swiss and American companies, is helping fight the global pandemic. You can follow our team at @USEmbassyBern to learn about more examples. And when this fight is over, Swiss companies will continue to create jobs and support innovation in the United States, just as so many U.S. firms do in Switzerland.

It is my honor to be a part of those efforts. I salute the entire team at the Embassy and our partners at SelectUSA as we continue to grow this partnership.