Business Environment in Switzerland
Switzerland has a highly successful market-based economy. Its standard of living, its industrial productivity, the quality of its education system, and its health-care system are amongst the highest in Europe.
After several years of growth rate above the European average, the Swiss economy contracted sharply in 2009 (-1.9%) due to the international financial crisis. With a growth estimated at 2.9% of the GDP in 2010, the recovery was quick and vigorous, driven by the global recovery, as well as by the quick improvement of domestic demand. The 2011 outlook is marred by the appreciation of the Swiss frank towards the euro (currency of its main trading partners), which will hurt exports, and by the decrease in U.S. demand.
The economic recovery being uncertain, the government continues to pursue its stabilization measures, which concern, among others, supporting employment and promoting exports. In order to comply with the rule of limiting debt, the authorities should also adopt fiscal consolidation measures on the federal level. Special attention will also be paid to inflationary pressures.
In spite of the increase in unemployment due to the recession, Switzerland’s unemployment rate remains very low compared to the EU average. Estimated at 3.6% in 2010, it should recede slowly in 2011-2012.
|GDP (billions USD)||491.92||523.77e||594.22||602.59||610.35|
|GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change)||-1.9||2.6||2.4||1.8e||1.8e|
|GDP per Capita (USD)||63,536||67,246e||75,836e||76,446e||76,968e|
|General Government Balance (in % of GDP)||1.1||0.3||0.1||0.5||0.5|
|Inflation Rate (%)||-0.5||0.7||0.9||1.0e||1.0e|
|Unemployment Rate (% of the Labor Force)||3.6||3.6e||3.4e||3.3e||3.0e|
|Current Account (billions USD)||43.10e||48.87||49.75e||51.64e||-|
|Current Account (in % of GDP)||8.7||9.5e||9.6e||9.8e||-|
Source: IMF - World Economic Outlook Database
Note: (e) Estimated Data
Main Sectors of Industry
Agriculture contributes around 1% to the GDP and employs less than 4% of the active population (only 10% of the land is suitable for cultivation). The primary agricultural products are livestock and dairy products. Swiss authorities grant numerous direct subsidies to farmers in order to meet strict ecological criteria such as soil protection. Organic farming is booming. There are hardly any mineral resources on Swiss soil.
Electricity is generated chiefly from hydraulic and nuclear power. Switzerland is renowned worldwide for the high quality of its manufactured products, which include watches, motors, generators, turbines, and diverse high-technology products. Located in Basel, the chemical and pharmaceutical industry exports all over the world.
The service sector contributes to over 70% of the GDP and employs slightly under three quarters of the active workforce. Well developed and globally competitive sectors such as banking, insurance, freight and transport, contribute substantially to the development of international trade across Switzerland. Tourism, which adds significantly to the economy, helps to balance Switzerland's trade deficit.
|Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector||Agriculture||Industry||Services|
|Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment)||3.9||23.8||72.4|
|Value Added (in % of GDP)||1.2||26.8||72.0|
|Value Added (Annual % Change)||1.4||-4.3||-1.0|
Source: World Bank - Last Available Data.
|Swiss Franc (CHF) - Average Annual Exchange Rate For 1 USD||1.25||1.25||1.20||1.08||1.09|
Source: World Bank
Indicator of Economic Freedom
- World Rank:
- Regional Rank:
Foreign Trade in Figures
Swiss economy is very much open to foreign trade, which represents more than 90% of the country’s GDP. The European Union (EU) is Switzerland's major trade partner, accounting for two-thirds of its total foreign trade. On 1st of June 2002, agreements were signed between the EU and Switzerland regarding seven main trade sectors. Exports account for approximately half of the country’s GDP. Switzerland's two main clients of are the United States and the European Union. Switzerland shows a substantial trade surplus and this trend should continue despite its possible erosion in 2011.
|Foreign Trade Indicators||2006||2007||2008||2009||2010|
|Imports of Goods (million USD)||141,400||161,180||183,574||155,378||176,191|
|Exports of Goods (million USD)||147,856||172,078||200,759||172,474||195,386|
|Imports of Services (million USD)||26,592||31,574||36,400||38,867||38,399|
|Exports of Services (million USD)||53,460||64,255||76,180||72,309||76,300|
|Imports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||6.5||6.1||0.3||-5.4||-|
|Exports of Goods and Services (Annual % Change)||9.9||-||-||-||-|
|Imports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||44.2||46.0||45.1||40.7||-|
|Exports of Goods and Services (in % of GDP)||52.5||56.2||56.5||51.7||-|
|Trade Balance (million USD)||5,008||13,234||13,482||1,391||-|
|Trade Balance (Including Service) (million USD)||33,063||47,284||55,104||-||-|
|Foreign Trade (in % of GDP)||96.7||102.2||101.6||92.4||-|
Source: WTO - World Trade Organization ; World Bank
Main Partner Countries
(% of Exports)
|United Arab Emirates||1.2%|
|Other partnersClose extended list||48.9%|
(% of Imports)
|Other partnersClose extended list||37.0%|
Sources of General Economic Information
Federal Department of Economic Affairs
Federal Department of Finance
Federal Department of Environment, Transport, Energy and Communications
Federal Department of Home Affairs
Federal Department of Defense, Protection of the Population and Sport
Federal Department of Justice and Police
- Statistical Office
Federal Office for Statistics
- Central Bank
Swiss National Bank (SNB)
- Stock Exchange
Switzerland Stock Exchange
- Search Engines
- Economic Portals
- Executive Power
- President is both the chief of the state and head of the government. The post is purely ceremonial and by tradition rotates annually among the seven members of the Federal Council for one-year term.The Federal Council is a seven-member executive council (cabinet) that heads the executive branch, with its members being elected by country’s parliament for a four-year term. Under the constitution of Switzerland the make-up of the government is not determined by parliamentary majority but in accordance with a four-party power-sharing agreement (established in 1959) and known as the "magic formula".
- Legislative Power
- The legislature in Switzerland is bicameral. The parliament called Federal Assembly consists of: Council of States (the upper house) having 46 seats, with 2 members selected from each of the 20 cantons (states/provinces) and 1 from each of the six half-canton to serve four-year terms and the National Council (the lower house) having 200 seats, with its members elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation to serve four-year terms. The executive branch of government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. The federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the parliament.
- Main Political Parties
- Switzerland has a multi-party system, where a single party has little chance of gaining power alone. Thus, parties work with each other to form coalition governments. The major parties in the country are:
SVP (Swiss People's Party) – populist right-wing, with a strong base in German-speaking areas of Switzerland, SP (Social Democratic Party) – centre-left, CVP (Christian Democratic Party) - centre-right, Green Party - left-wing environmentalist, its motto "think globally, act locally."
- Current Political Leaders
- President: Micheline CALMY-REY - PDC (since 1 January 2011)
Vice President: Eveline Widmer-Schlumpf (since 1 January 2011)
- Next Election Dates
- Presidential:December 2011 (conducted on yearly basis)
Council of States: Not available (each canton decides its own election dates)National Council:October 2011
Indicator of Freedom of the Press
- World Rank:
- 4 places up compared to 2008
Indicator of Political Freedom
- Political Freedom:
- Civil Liberties:
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