Switzerland continues to lure foreign companies

Switzerland would like to attract more Googles and fewer brass plate companies. © Keystone / Christian Beutler

Switzerland attracted 282 foreign firms to set up shop in the alpine state, creating 899 jobs last year, according to cantonal economic chiefs. That’s an increase of 37 companies from 2017.

This content was published on April 2, 2019 minutes

Switzerland is in the throes of revamping its corporate tax system to keep it line with the competition rules of the European Union and Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

Many cantons are reducing their headline tax rates to make up for having to ditch special perks for multinational companies that locate offices and subsidiaries in Switzerland.

The ongoing changes appear so far not to have put off foreign companies from coming to Switzerland. Around half of the incoming enterprises operate in the ICT and life sciences sectors, it was announced on Tuesday.

The real blip in the figures was a 42% fall in the number of jobs created last year compared to 2017.

The Swiss government says it will spend CHF373 million ($374 million) on boosting Swiss tourism, export promotion and other areas between the years 2020 and 2023. Some CHF17.6 million of this budget has been earmarked for promoting the country as an attractive location for businesses. 

Part of the plan is to attract substantial company activities and to ditch the tradition of so-called “brass plate” offices setting up in Switzerland that bring little economic benefit beyond taxes.

But the country also has a track record for reeling in meatier operations, such as Google and IBM research facilities.

In addition to competitive taxes Switzerland promotes its central European location, high quality of living, top billing in many innovation studies and a thriving higher education system that produces a stream of highly qualified workers.

This article was corrected on April 4 to clarify spending on promoting Switzerland for foreign companies.

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