Switzerland Trade, Exports and Imports

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Switzerland’s economy is globally integrated, capitalizing on the Swiss government’s open trade regime. Switzerland’s trade is flourishing on account of low tariffs on manufactures and absent quantitative restrictions. There are, however, some sectors in the Swiss economy that have limited trade activity, predominantly as a result of weak anti-cartel legislation and certain investment restrictions.

Switzerland Trade, Exports and Imports: Overview

Switzerland has a small domestic market and limited mineral resources, which makes the nation reliant on imports. Nonetheless, during 2009, Switzerland’s exports stood at $190.1 billion, exceeding its imports by $12.9 billion. The reason for the favorable trade scenario is that Switzerland processes several import commodities and resells them to its trade partners at a profitable margin. Key Switzerland import commodities are:

 

  • Machinery

  • Chemicals

  • Metals

  • Agricultural products

  • Textiles

 

Switzerland is acknowledged globally for being a principal exporter of chocolates and watches. However, currently, more than half the Swiss exports comprise chemicals and electrical and mechanical engineering products.

Major trade partners of Switzerland and their share in its total trade, according to CIA reports for 2009, include:

Exports
Imports

Germany

19.7%

Germany

33.3%

US

9.6%

Italy

11%

Italy

8.7%

France

9.4%

France

8.6%

US

5.8%

 

Switzerland Trade Agreements

Switzerland maintains close trade relations with the European Union (EU), which has resulted in the creation of several trade agreements over the last four decades, including:

 

  • The Free Trade Agreement, 1972: It was primarily intended to create a free trade zone to dismantle quotas and customs for industrial products.

  • The Insurance Agreement, 1989: The act guaranteed insurance companies from Switzerland the right to establish operations anywhere in the EU without much legal restrictions.

 

Additionally, Switzerland entered a bilateral agreement with the EU in 1999 to:

 

  • Facilitate public procurement

  • Remove technical trade barrier

  • Support agriculture

  • Encourage free movement of labor

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The agreement was further modified in 2004 to cover greater economic interests as well as extend cooperation in the fields of environment, culture and internal security, asylum, the environment and culture. Countering fraud in trade transactions within the respective territories is another focus area of the Bilateral Agreement II between Switzerland and the EU.