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Petitioner wants army knife to remain Swiss

July 20, 2007|From Bloomberg News

A retired Swiss Army colonel is petitioning the Defense Ministry to keep the famous pocket knife issued to the Alpine nation's soldiers Swiss after reports that the next batch of 65,000 could be made in China.

Alois Kessler, a lawyer who served as a reserve officer until 2004, began his campaign after hearing that World Trade Organization rules might mean the government has to consider bids from anywhere in the world for its new batch of army knives.

"A Swiss Army knife with a Swiss cross on it, and 'Made in China' on the back, won't be accepted at all well," Kessler said Thursday in an interview from his office in Schwyz, Switzerland. "I have real doubts that China would manage the same standards of quality" as the Swiss product, he said.

Based in nearby Ibach, Victorinox has provided pocket knives since 1909 for the Swiss Army, as well as Pope Benedict XVI and 5.5 million other customers annually.

According to Swiss news reports, the silver-colored Army knife, a more basic version of the iconic red utensil sold to tourists, is getting an upgrade.

"There is a need for a new army knife," said Peter Lyoth, a spokesman for Armasuisse, the Defense Ministry's procurement agency. When asked if the knife could be ordered from China, he declined to comment.

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