Switzerland's foreign trade weakened considerably in November, reflecting the sluggish position of the global economy. Imports took a tumble, with exports also down.
Imports sank by 13.3 per cent compared to November last year to SFr10.48 billion ($6.41 billion), the biggest decline since January 1993.
Exports from the machines and electronics industry went down by almost 10 per cent, while export turnover in watches fell by 4.6 per cent.
The Finance Ministry in Bern said exports fared better but were also down by 2.2 per cent at SFr11.47 billion.
It added that Switzerland had a trade surplus of almost SFr1 billion in November.
Swiss-US trade hit
The figures show that trade with the United States in particular, was hit hard, with imports falling by 33.9 per cent and exports falling by a quarter.
UBS Warburg analyst Hanspeter Hausherr said the figures were something of a bad omen.
"The foreign trade figures are a reflection of the global strong weakening of the economy over the past months and a bad sign for economic developments in the near future," he said.
He added that the abrupt strengthening of the Swiss franc following the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11 was leaving "clear traces".
And he commented that the fall of imports led to the conclusion that industry had put the brakes on sharply in building up stocks.
"The latest foreign trade figures underpin the view that the economic low point has not yet been reached. The journey down could last until into the first quarter of 2002," he said.
swissinfo with agencies
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