On Oct 24th, European Director of Zurich’s development agency Marc Rudolf wrote a letter to numerous American companies based in Belgium. A few isolated aspects of our economic landscape were described with the goal of giving a bad image of Belgium and pushing companies to move to Switzerland. This marketing technique shocked the Belgian media and regional development agencies reacted.
Philippe Suinen, CEO of AWEX, contacted the Swiss Ambassador in Belgium. He wrote that, given proximity and the commercial links between the two countries, the Agency was very dissapointed about the Greater Zurich marketing technique : « the arguments used by the public entity are shocking. Marc Rudolf clearly started a smear campaign towards Belgium.
Both Swiss Ambassador Benedict de Cerjat and Greater Zurich’s Managing Director Sonja Wollkopf Walt regret the « unfortunate incident ».
Sonja Wollkopf Walt apologized et admitted it was inappropriate and tactless to negatively elaborate on Belgian’s and European’s economic environment : « Our goal was […] to bring the Greater Zurich Area to the attention of international companies. […] We regret this and we will certainly draw our conclusions from this incident. Let me assure that it has never been our intention to affront of offend the Belgian state and its citizens ; we are sorry if our letter has given this impression ».