Switzerland’s gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by a lower-than-expected 0.2% in the fourth quarter, a slowdown of growth from the previous quarter, as a decline of chemical and pharmaceutical exports weighed on the trade balance.
The GDP expansion decelerated from 0.5% in the third quarter as the export of goods decreased by 1.7% in the fourth quarter, according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO). The growth was slower than expected by economists at the BAKBasel research consultancy.
At the same time, imports of goods rose by 1.4%, lifted by imports of vehicles, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, engineering and electronics products, SECO reported.
Private consumption, the wholesale sector as well as investments in equipment also had a positive effect in the fourth quarter, SECO said, adding that investments in vehicles, IT services, engineering and construction had increased particularly in the last quarter of last year. In addition, consumption by foreign tourists in Switzerland and imports of services increased in the fourth quarter.
On the production side, companies focusing on the domestic market such as those in the construction, healthcare and wholesale industries performed “significantly better” than the export-orientated industries and financial services, SECO said.
SECO estimates that the country’s GDP expanded 2% in 2013, up from a 1% growth in 2012. During the same period the economy of the 18 Euro states shrunk 0.4%, the European Commission said on Thursday.
In a separate release, the Federal Statistics Office said that employment had increased 1.0% in the fourth quarter compared with the same quarter a year earlier. The office said that particularly the services sector showed an increase of 1.2%. The number of vacancies increased by 7.9%, while it became “slightly” easier to recruit personnel.
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