Discover Switzerland’s economy, main imported & exported goods and the successful Swiss industries to sell to

Switzerland (officially Swiss Confereration) is a country located in the western center of Europe, it is bordered by France, Italy, Germany, Austria and Lichtenstein. Switzerland does not belong to the European Union even if it has many agreements with it.
Switzerland is the second country in the world for gross domestic product (GDP) per capita (in 2015 GDP per capita was around 81’000 USD).
The GDP of Switzerland is split as below: 74% from services, 25% from industry and less than 1% for agriculture.
Export from USA to Switzerland grew by 22.3% from 2015 to 2016 which helped USA being 3rdSwitzerland’s economic partner in imports.

Key Facts

  • Population: 8.5 million
  • Capital: Bern
  • GDP: 659 billion USD
  • GDP growth 2017: ~0.9% (Source: SECO ADMIN)
  • GDP growth 2018: ~2% (Source: SECO ADMIN)
  • Free Trade Agreements with other countries: list on the link
  • Imports: 174 CHF billion / 179 billion USD
  • Exports: 210 CHF billion / 216 billion USD
  • Origin of imported products in Switzerland: Germany (28%), Italy (9,7%) and United States (8,2%)
  • Most imported products in Switzerland: Chemicals & Pharmaceutical products (25%), Machinery & Electronics (16%), Vehicles (11%), Metals (7.5%), Food and Beverages (5.8%), Textiles / Clothes & Shoes (5.5%), Jewellery (5.2%), Precision instruments(4.3), Energy products (3.9%), Plastics (2.3%), Clocks and Watches (2.2%), Paper and art related products (2.2%).
  • Most exported products from Switzerland: Chemicals (40,2%), Tools, watches and clocks, jewellery (22.5% – watches exports value in 2013: 23.6billion USD), Machinery and electronics (16.6%).

Most companies are small or medium-sized companies (less than 250 companies). Swiss exports to the United States amounted 30.5 billion USD in 2015. Key sectors in Switzerland are Life Sciences, Biotech, Chemical and Pharmaceutical industry, Medtech, Mechanical / Electrical and Metal Industry (MEM), Services and Bank /Finance.

Why you should consider exporting to Switzerland?

Switzerland is a very neutral country and in good terms with many economies in the world. As a very small country, it relies a lot on importing goods to consume or produce locally. As a worldwide center of finance, it is easier to local companies to have access to capital which helps them to grow, to invest in their premises or in R&D and to pay international suppliers.

Need support in finding importers / distributors in Switzerland?

Life sciences

Life science industry in Switzerland is very strong, its revenues are mainly generated from exports (98%). The Chemical-pharmaceutical products are the main exported goods of Switzerland with 40% of the total Swiss exports.
There are 253 pharmaceutical companies in Switzerland employing more than 44,000 people. It generates more than 24 billion USD of revenues. Switzerland is the most innovative country in the world in this field (Source: Global Innovation Index, 2016). The country has top notch R&D and learning centers in this field. This industry is constantly growing, as an example we noticed exports grew from 18% of total Swiss exports in 2000 to 38% in 2016.

Medtech

The medtech industry is composed by 1,350 companies employing 54,500 people. It generates nearly 14 billion USD per year. 36% of these companies are suppliers, 26% service providers, 22% are manufacturers and 16% are retailers and sales companies. 41% of medtech companies in Switzerland employed in 2016 ten people or fewer.

Biotech

The biotech sector reunites 281 companies for totaling revenues of 5.8 billion USD. It employs 15,400 persons. It is composed as below (Source: Swiss Biotech Directory, 2017):

  • 35%: Biotechnology healthcare (human + animal)
  • 6%: Biotechnology industry (including food biotech)
  • 1%: Biotechnology agriculture
  • 4%: Biotechnology IT
  • 22%: Suppliers with in-house production (diagnostics, equipment, laboratory equipment, reagents)
  • 17%: Services (platform technologies, research, production, analytics, clinical research)
  • 15%: Consulting/engineering

Machinery, Electrical and Metal Industry

This sector is the Switzerland’s biggest industrial employer (317,000 people) and its 13,803 companies generates nearly 64 billion USD revenues. Almost 80% of the sector’s products are exported, around 60% in the EU. This industry requires many imports in raw materials, machining and ICT technologies to sustain its growth. A program called Industry 2025 initiative has been launched to increase an Industry 4.0 vision and to help Swiss companies digitalizing their businesses in order to create more growth in this sector.
Sub-sectors (Source: Swiss Federal Customs Administration, 2017; Swissmem, Panorama 2017):

  • 33%: mechanical and automotive
  • 24%: precision instruments
  • 19%: metal industry
  • 16%: electrical / electronics
  • 8%: vehicles

Sources:

 

Pic: Unsplash.com_eberhard grossgasteiger