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Foreign trade booms in 2006

Switzerland's trade surplus reached nearly SFr12 billion in 2006 Keystone

Swiss imports and exports continued to grow last year, recording double-digit growth with all sectors benefiting from the ongoing economic upswing.

This content was published on February 1, 2007 - 11:39

Exports increased by levels not seen for 30 years, while the value of imports also took off on the back of higher energy and raw material costs.

Last year, exports grew by 12.9 per cent – or just over nine per cent in real terms – reaching a total of SFr177.2 billion ($142.6 billion) and confirming a trend that began in 2003. It was the biggest rise since 1977.

Imports increased by 11 per cent to reach SFr165.5 billion. The last quarter saw substantial growth of both exports and imports.

Switzerland's 2006 trade balance ended up with a record surplus of SFr11.65 billion, up by nearly half over the previous year. The result is due mainly due to high exports in the pharmaceutical and chemicals industry.

All sectors benefited from the boom in 2006, with many of them enjoying double-digit export growth. The food, metal, chemical, instrumentation, plastics and watch industries saw their sales abroad increase by at least ten per cent.

Exports to the European Union increased by 11.3 per cent, but growth was "spectacular" in fast-developing markets including Russia, Ukraine, Romania and India. Exports there grew by one third to nearly 50 per cent last year.

Good sent to Canada, Poland, Denmark and Finland increased by 20 per cent in value, while business to Germany – Switzerland's biggest commercial partner – and China rose around 15 per cent.

Imports growing

Imports also experienced double-digit growth.

Imports of raw materials and semi-processed products rose 12.1 per cent to reach SFr43.6 billion because of higher metal prices. Energy imports jumped by nearly a quarter in terms of value due to petrol, gas and electricity price increases.

Equipment imports increased by just over ten per cent, and the amount of consumer goods crossing the border was up by 8.1 per cent. Imports of medical supplies rose by one eighth, while food, dinks, tobacco and consumer electronics experienced average growth.

Car sales in Switzerland, which has no domestic automobile industry, remained flat, experiencing only a minor increase.

Imports from the former Soviet republics and China jumped nearly 30 per cent. Kazakhstan, a major petrol producer, saw its sales to Switzerland increase sharply.

Countries including Japan, Britain and Ireland saw their exports to Switzerland decline.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Foreign trade figures:

Exports:

2005: SFr156.977 billion (+7.3% over the previous year)
2006: SFr177.195 billion (+12.9%)

Imports:

2005: SFr149.094 billion (+8.8%)
2006: SFr165.540 billion (+11%)

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Big business

Swiss business sectors with the highest export growth in 2006:

1. Food industry:
+20.5%, SFr4.861 billion

2. Metal industry:
+15.1%, SFr13.423 billion

3. Chemical industry:
+14.8%, SFr62.969 billion

4. Precision instruments:
+12%, SFr12.876 billion

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