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The Federal authorities have given a favourable reception to the principle of strengthening the watch industry’s Swiss made label. It will be examined within the framework of the Swissness project covering all of the country’s economic sectors.

After the FH General Meeting of 28 June last year, the FH filed its project to strengthen the Swiss made ordinance with the Federal authorities. The latter have given a favourable reception to the initiative and have praised the industry’s determination to safeguard the reputation and credibility of the Swiss made label in the watchmaking sector. They pointed out however that the FH project needed to be examined within the wider framework of the Swissness project and, referring to the problem of the European watch industry agreement of 1972, invited the FH to find a solution ensuring the compatibility of its project with the aforementioned agreement without the need for modification or renegotiation of the agreement. In its response to national councillor Didier Berberat on 23 November 2007, the Federal Council confirmed this view by making clear that the FH project would be examined at the end of the consultation procedure put in place for the Swissness project.

On 28 November 2007 the Federal Council effectively launched the consultation procedure for the Swissness project. This seeks to strengthen protection and clarify the use of the name Swiss, of indications of origin in general and of the Federal coat of arms in all economic sectors. The project means that use of the name Swiss will be authorised only for products incorporating a Swiss rate of value of at least 60%. The project also contains other provisions aimed at facilitating defence of the name Swiss. Interested parties, including the FH, have until 31 March 2008 to make their positions known.

The principles outlined in the Swissness project will affect all sectors, watchmaking included. It is therefore up to the FH to study this legislative revision carefully and determine the consequences for its own Swiss made project. It would appear now however that the Swissness project and the FH project run along the same lines, particularly as regards the requirement of a minimum rate of Swiss value. In addition, criteria outlined in the Swissness project may be supplemented by criteria specific to watchmaking in a special ordinance, such as the Swiss made ordinance. The FH therefore anticipated this possibility by filing its own project at the end of June 2007!

Consequently the FH will examine the Swissness project very attentively so that it can make clear its position within the time limit allowed. It will also continue to analyse the compatibility of its project with the 1972 watchmaking agreement with a view to finding a solution. For this purpose, discussions currently under way with representatives of European Union watchmaking associations will continue.

At this stage, it is important to note that matters are proceeding in accordance with objectives laid down to strengthen Swiss made. The European problem had been known for some time; however it was necessary to have an official FH project before discussions could be opened. The matter is being pursued therefore within the normal legislative process.
 

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