China's economic advances praised, political elements criticized

China MapGeneva - China received praise Monday for economic growth, during a Uni

Swiss vote in favour of free movement with Romania and Bulgaria

Geneva  - Swiss voters overwhelmingly supported a government- backed motion to extend cooperation with the European Union in a referendum on Sunday.

Swiss to vote on free movement with Romania and Bulgaria

Swiss to vote on free movement with Romania and Bulgaria Geneva - The Swiss will head to the polls Sunday to vote in a referendum on free movement and access for European Union citizens to their labour market, and will have to decide whether to open up Switzerland to Romania and Bulgaria.

The latest polls indicated that the government backed motion will likely pass and voters will extend the existing deal with 25 European states and allow in the two new EU members, but only by a slim margin.

Aid workers warn of precarious situation in northern Sri Lanka

United Nations' World Food Programme LogoGeneva - The United Nations' World Food Programme said Friday it had very limited access to the conflict zone in northern Sri Lanka and had not been able to deliver aid for weeks.

A four-hour humanitarian "window" was supposed to be opened each Thursday, but the agency has not been able to send in food aid since January 16, said WFP spokeswoman in Geneva, Emilia Casella.

Buffet to invest 3 billion francs in Swiss Re

Swiss-Re LogoGeneva - Swiss Re, the world's second largest re-insurer, said Thursday it would accept a 3 billion-Swiss-franc (2.58 billion dollars)-investment from US financier Warren Buffet, needed in light of losses suffered last year.

The investment, through Buffet's firm Berkshire Hathaway, would be "significant" the company said, and would help it maintain enough capital to keep an AA credit rating.

Last year the company was expected to have suffered losses about 1 billion francs.

The investment needs to be approved by Swiss Re shareholders.

Swiss export record 17 billion francs in watches in 2008

Swiss watchesGeneva - The Swiss set a new record for themselves, exporting in 2008 some 17 billion francs' (14.7 billion dollars) billion francs) worth of watches, a report released Tuesday said.

While this was an increase of over 6 per cent compared to 2007, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry warned that the final months of last year saw a 7.8 per cent decline in exports, as the financial crisis began to be felt across the real economy.

This year, the association said, will begin in the red, continuing the trend, though the highest end timepieces were holding steady through the initial phases of the crisis.