Last year, Swiss exports hit a new record: up 3.5% over 2013, they totalled CHF208.3bn, even higher than the previous record of CHF206.3bn achieved in 2008, according to a communiqué released today by the Swiss Federal Administration of Customs. In real terms, this surge was attributable to exports from the pharmaceutical and chemical industries, followed by jewellery, watches, metal products and food/beverages/tobacco as well as textiles, clothing and shoes, plastics. Exports to all continents increased, with the exception of Oceania and Latin America, down 2 per cent each, and with the strongest growth rate having been recorded in North America, up 10 per cent (in large part thanks to pharmaceutical exports). Importantly, with the exception of the second quarter, exports rose in every quarter of 2014.
Screenshot page 2 of the press release of the Swiss Federal Administration of Customs
‘As a result, the trade surplus reached a new record of CHF 30.0 billion, i.e. CHF 6.4 billion more than in 2013’, to quote the Swiss Federal Administration of Customs’ press release.
Unfortunately, this upward trend is unlikely to continue because of the strong Swiss franc, some 15 per cent higher since the Swiss national bank last month decided to abandon the franc’s peg to the euro, which it had put in place in August 2011. With Swiss exports therefore some 15 to 20 per cent (depending on the fluctuations of the euro/Swiss franc exchange rate) more expensive for eurozone importers than they were not even a month ago, there is absolutely no possibility at all that 2015 will see a new record being set for Swiss exports given their geographical breakdown*. On the contrary, some economists are already warning of an economic recession, which is why some companies have already decided to pay their strong contingents of cross-border workers (be they from France, Germany or Italy) no longer in Swiss francs but in euros. Tough times seem to be calling for ‘creative’ solutions, apparently.
*In 2014, the top 20 importing countries of Swiss goods were 1 Germany (18.5%), 2 USA (12.4%), 3 France (7.2%), 4 Italy (6.6%), 5 United Kingdom (4.8%), 6 China (4.2%), 7 Hong Kong (3.4%), 8 Austria (3.0%), 9 Japan (3.0%), 10 Spain (2.8%), 11 Belgium (2.7%), 12 Netherlands (2.4%), 13 Canada (1.6%), 14 Singapore (1.5%), 15 UAE (1.5%), 16 Russia (1.3%), 17 South Korea (1.3%), 18 Saudi Arabia (1.1%), 19 Australia (1.1%), 20 Poland (1.1%). (Source: Swiss Federal Administration of Customs, ‘Foreign trade of Switzerland by economic regions, continents and countries; ranking of countries in 2014’)
- ‘Exports in 2014: new record’, website of the Federal Customs Administration, 3 February 2015
- ‘Straumann asks staff to share strong franc pain’, Swissinfo, 3 February 2015