Swiss trade with Russia still going strong

Shipments of Russian gold appear to have increased since the start of the Ukraine war. Keystone / Martin Ruetschi

The volume of trade between Switzerland and Russia has increased since the start of the Ukraine war, despite Swiss sanctions, according to official figures.

This content was published on December 23, 2022 minutes

The Tages Anzeiger newspaper has crunched the numbers from the Swiss customs authorities and finds exports have increased 19% while imports have risen 54% since the war began.

Exports are dominated by pharmaceutical products, the newspaper reports, with some trade likely catching up from logjams created by the pandemic.

But the sizeable increase in imports is dominated by gold, which is subject to specific Swiss sanctions.

In August, Switzerland, which is a major global hub for processing gold, adopted European Union sanctions prohibiting the trade of Russian gold and gold products.

But this appears to be having little impact on Russian gold imports. In November, 6.4 tons of gold worth CHF344 million ($370 million) arrived from Russia, but the identity of the buyer is unclear.

The Swiss Association of Precious Metal Manufacturers and Dealers says its members do not touch Russian gold while the Russian embassy to Bern declined to comment to the Tages Anzeiger.

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It is believed that much Russian gold enters Switzerland via third countries, such as Dubai, which makes it harder to police.

The newspaper also highlighted figures from the Observatory of Economic Complexity that shows trade increasing between Russia and multiple countries since the war began.

Besides China, India and Turkey, trade also increased with Belgium, which is a major diamond trading hub, according to these statistics.

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