The Swiss mechanical and electrical engineering industries (Swissmem) - the country's main exporters - have reported healthy second quarter growth, with orders up by 30 per cent over the same period last year.
At a news conference in Berne on Wednesday, Swissmem said growth in orders for the first half were up by 18.6 per cent over 1999 figures. Sales were up by 7.9 per cent.
The strongest improvement was in the domestic market, with second quarter orders recording growth of 52.6 per cent. Orders from abroad rose by 25.8 per cent.
During the first six months, exports reached a volume of SFr28.4 billion ($16 billion), an improvement of 13.8 per cent over the first half of 1999.
"The figures reflect a healthy national economy, which has set off strong impulses for demand," said Thomas Daum, director of Swissmem.
However, he added that although figures for the first half were very positive overall, some companies were struggling to keep their order books full.
"A third of the firms questioned [for the survey] report a decrease in turnover and one in four companies is facing a fall in orders," he said.
For the year as a whole, Swissmem believes orders will be up by 10 per cent over last year and sales will be up by between five and seven per cent.
"The industry is in a phase of healthy growth. The domestic market is developing extremely dynamically and consumers look at the future with optimism, mainly due to the good labour market situation," he said.
For the first time in a decade the industry has also been creating jobs. Between 1990 and 1998, 60,000 posts were cut, but last year there was net employment growth of 1,000 jobs.
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