Swiss central bank opens S'pore office

Swiss central bank opens S'pore office

SINGAPORE - Singapore and Switzerland have much in common, including the challenges facing their central banks, said the head of the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) on Thursday.

Calling the two countries "kindred spirits", Mr Ravi Menon welcomed the opening of the first overseas branch office of the Swiss National Bank (SNB) and said it would help strengthen bilateral relations.

"We are doubly pleased that SNB has chosen to come to Singapore, because our two countries are like kindred spirits," said Mr Menon, who is the managing director of MAS.

Both "are small trading nations, with a shared interest in promoting free trade and maintaining an open, rules-based global economy", he noted.

He said SNB and MAS are confronting similar challenges as central banks in the post-financial crisis world.

"The openness, financial soundness and strong fundamentals of our two countries have made us highly attractive to global capital, with implications for monetary and exchange rate policies, on which we exchange views," he said.

"Our two institutions also have to manage a growing pool of official foreign reserves in a global market that is becoming increasingly uncertain."

Indeed, the need to efficiently manage SNB's Asian assets - which exceed US$50 billion (S$64 billion) in total - is one reason the bank decided to set up an office here, said SNB chairman Thomas Jordan.

Moreover, an Asian presence would enable SNB to trade its assets in the appropriate time zone, and to understand Asian markets better, he said.

Singapore was chosen because of its dominance in Asian bond trading and its role as one of South-east Asia's largest financial marketplaces, he said.

Singapore's "outstanding infrastructure and stable legal environment" were perks, he added.

Switzerland is Singapore's fifth-largest trading partner in Europe, while Singapore is Switzerland's fourth-largest trading partner in Asia, Mr Menon said.

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