Italy has blocked trucks at its border and confiscated disinfectants on its way to Switzerland. The Swiss commercial transport association talks about “state theft”, and Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis is reported to have intervened.
Swiss Victory Company, Switzerland imports goods from all over the world. But since last week, Italy has been holding trucks with paid products on the Swiss-Italian border in Domodossola.
Victory Switzerland’s managing director Daniel Gerber told swissinfo.ch that the truck was carrying disinfectant hand gel, which was confiscated by Italian customs officials “on the spot”.
The Italian customs authority confirmed the confiscation of special coronavirus emergency decision authority. According to the documents they gave to the transporters, the items were sent to the civil defense unit based in Domodossola, which distributed them to hospitals and cities as needed.
Victory Switzerland has ordered products from the German company Gifts & Beauty Handels and paid more than CHF 30,000 ($ 30,800) for them three weeks ago. However, they are produced in Italy.
According to Italian authorities, producers or sellers of confiscated products will be compensated. Gerber hopes to claim CHF 30,000 back from the German company. However, he said he had to remove costs for unfinished transportation plus lost profits.
The Swiss victory had experienced the same problem in Hamburg in early March, when German authorities detained 314,000 protective masks on their way to Switzerland from China. After the Swiss intervention, the German government released a shipment two days later.
Theft Theft state ’
The problem with Italy has become a top priority for the Swiss commercial transport association, ASTAG. Its president, Adrian Amstutz, a former senior member of the right-wing Swiss People’s Party, has personally raised the cause of affected Swiss companies and has used its direct route to the federal parliament.
“The Italian-speaking foreign minister, Ignazio Cassis, who is responsible for this, is now dealing with this problem,” he told swissinfo.ch.
Amstutz said he was angry with “the struggle for his neighbor’s medical products which were ordered and paid for by Switzerland”.
“This is state theft,” he said, taking the opportunity to oppose Switzerland bilateral agreement with the European Union.
“This shows the value of this highly touted agreement with the EU. Like Schengen / Dublin, they are fair weather constructions that don’t work, especially in times of crisis when it’s really important. ”
Amstutz explained that the freight carriers were clearly interested in having open borders as possible for shipping traffic, but for this to happen, the countries concerned had to talk directly to each other – as now clear – and not through Brussels.
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) confirmed to swissinfo.ch that they were aware of the case and had contacted Italian authorities.
(Translated from German by Thomas Stephens),
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