July 18, 2018 / 5:20 PM / a month ago

Swiss finance minister says franc 'overvalued' but liveable

SAO PAULO (Reuters) - Switzerland’s Finance Minister Ueli Maurer said in an interview on Wednesday that the Swiss franc was overvalued relative to the euro, but added that the country and its companies “can live with” the current exchange rate.

“We like more 1.20 but at the moment we have 1.16,” he told Reuters in an interview on the sidelines of a conference in Sao Paulo. “That’s still overvalued, but we can live with this, I think.”

The strength of the Swiss franc, which weakened to around 1.20 against the euro in April but has since rebounded, bolstered by its safe-haven status, makes life difficult for Swiss exporters.

Maurer, who in the past has lamented the size of the Swiss National Bank’s balance sheet, which has grown larger than 800 billion Swiss francs ($801 billion), said he believed the bank, which is independent, had “made good policy.”

“Of course with all this intervention, we have a big, big balance sheet, but that’s a result of the policy of the last year and the pressing of the Swiss franc and the weakness of the euro,” he said.

Turning to Switzerland’s row with the European Union over cross-border trading and the broader question of a new bilateral treaty, Maurer said he was optimistic that “some solutions” would be found.

The European Commission has linked extending its recognition of Swiss stock market rules, which let EU investors trade on Swiss bourses, beyond year-end to progress on the treaty - a linkage Switzerland disagrees with.

“We have excellent relations with EU member states but some problems with the European Commission,” he said.

Reporting By Christian Plumb; editing by Jonathan Oatis

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