Magdalena Martullo is a member of parliament for the Swiss People’s Party, a majority shareholder in EMS-Chemie Holding AG and CEO of the EMS Group. Her advice for Swiss businesses is to specialize and plan ahead; politicians, she says, need to guarantee sovereignty so that Switzerland can hold on to its location advantages.
How can export-oriented companies thrive in international competition?
As a Swiss company with high costs, it is essential to distinguish oneself from the competition and to specialize. That is the secret of many successful Swiss exporters. Ultimately, the business has to pay off.
How can established companies ensure constant renewal and momentum for innovation?
We constantly think ahead for the next ten years. We work closely with the development departments of our customers and introduce ideas that could help their businesses. In the auto industry, reduction in component weight is a continuous and important issue. Based on our experience, we are able to replace metal in critical parts, such as seat shells, with our high performance polymers. The customer saves 50 percent in costs and as much as 70 percent in weight.
Which export markets do you know particularly well and what are the differences?
EMS operates globally, and is well-represented in all industrial regions with 26 production sites in 16 countries. The rate of development varies – in China, innovation can be achieved very quickly. In the U.S., customers are willing to outsource work; in Europe, everything is very carefully reviewed and evaluated.
What are the biggest challenges in trade policy, and how can they be solved?
Ensuring good economic relations, concluding numerous free trade agreements while still maintaining the best framework conditions and sovereignty – this is what politics are about, especially in a small country.
What do politicians have to do to ensure the best conditions for successful exports and companies?
Because of Switzerland’s high wages, we need a lean state and better framework conditions. Direct democracy has guaranteed us this and brought us prosperity. It is important that we now don’t simply adopt foreign laws and lose all our location advantages. In the long term, people make better decisions than bureaucrats and politicians. That’s why I am campaigning for the sovereignty initiative on which we will vote on November 25. Unfortunately, in recent times the Federal Court has given international law precedence over our own.
With which trade partners should Switzerland pursue free trade agreements?
The most important for Switzerland is the U.S. And the doors are open at the moment, so we must seize the opportunity and negotiate!