Economy of Switzerland

By | May 4, 2022

According to cheeroutdoor, Switzerland is a technologically advanced country with a market economy. The economy is focused on the production of high-quality specialized products (within its own “production niche”), most of which is intended for sale on the world market (its own “marketing niche”). The country continues to be one of the world’s largest financial centers focused on servicing foreign investors.

The country’s economic growth rates are traditionally more stable and moderate compared to the European average – 1.5-2% per year. They are less dependent on the state of the economic situation, since the country is dominated by the production of durable products (and services). The volume of GDP is 231 billion dollars (2002), which is 0.7-0.8% of world production. GDP per capita $31.7 thousand Employment 4 million people (2001), unemployment – 1.9%, inflation – 0.5% (2002).

Sectoral structure of the economy in terms of contribution to GDP: agriculture – 2%, industry – 34%, services – 64%; in terms of the number of employees: agriculture – 5%, industry – 26%, services – 69% (2002). More clearly, the features of the economic structure are indicated at the corporate level.

The international image of the modern industrial structure of Switzerland is determined by a relatively small group of corporations. These are, first of all, manufacturers of pharmaceutical products, the food giant Nestle and the block of the banking and insurance sector. Pharmaceutics is the undisputed leader of the Swiss industry. Its positions are especially strong in the production of antipyretic drugs, vitamins, anti-cancer interferon, drugs for the treatment of AIDS. Switzerland accounts for approx. 10% of world drug production and almost 30% of world exports. The enterprises employ 85 thousand people. (including within the country 26.5 thousand people). The share of pharmaceutical products in national exports is 20%.

The second basis of the Swiss international “manufacturing niche” is made up of specialized engineering companies (special industrial equipment, precision machine tools, medical equipment, watchmaking, etc.). The share of mechanical engineering in the value of national exports is approx. 44%. The number of people employed in the industry is approx. 1 million people (including within the country – 332.7 thousand people). Medium and small specialized firms predominate (about 4.2 thousand). In terms of the value of exported machine-building products, Switzerland ranks 7th in the world, and is among the top five in the world in terms of exports of machine-tool products.

There are 644 firms operating in the watch industry, employing approx. 39.5 thousand people Share of products in national exports approx. 7.7%. Switzerland remains the world’s leading manufacturer of high quality watch products. In the volume of manufactured products (27.8 million pieces), the share of Switzerland is relatively small (7% of the world market), but in terms of the value of watch products (about $ 6.5 billion), the country remains an unattainable leader (52% of the world market).

The latest trends in modern world mechanical engineering (nanotechnology, software, medical equipment, etc.) have allowed Switzerland to quite clearly define its new “industrial niche”. On the basis of a number of traditional areas of national industrial specialization (pharmaceutical and precision watchmaking), the country is forming the largest European cluster of “med-tech producers”. According to the OECD, Switzerland was recognized as the country with the best prospects for global success in knowledge-intensive industries (2001).

The banking and insurance sector of the country is also a traditional specialization of the Swiss economy. Almost 1/3 of the annual world volume of financial transactions falls on Switzerland (approx. 2.0-2.5 trillion dollars).

There are 375 banks operating in the country (2000), incl. so-called gross banks (large joint-stock companies), cantonal and regional (public property), private banks (family ownership), etc. Their total final balance is 2.1 trillion Swiss francs. fr. (2000), the number of employed is 112 thousand people, the tax contribution provides 12% of all revenues to the state budget. Cross-border asset management involves mainly large banks (UBS, Credit Suisse), as well as leading private banks (Baloise – capitalization of $5 billion, Iulius Baer – $3.5 billion, Vontobcl – $1.9 billion, etc. ). Cantonal banks are mainly focused on servicing domestic financial transactions.

The main modern problem of Swiss banks is related to the growing international claims regarding their use of the principle of “bank secrecy”, which allows some foreign depositors to evade national taxes and even “launder money”. The Swiss banking sector seeks to get rid of such an “unfavorable image”. Additional tightening is being carried out, obliging banks to more carefully check the origin of any money. But international claims persist.

In general, the activities of Swiss elite companies within the framework of the “industrial and marketing niches” they have mastered are developing quite successfully. In the list of the 500 largest European corporations, there is always a solid group from Switzerland (in September 2002 there were 26 of them, in Sweden – 25; in the Netherlands – 22, etc.). But the global economic recession has not bypassed the “Swiss economic paradise”. Such failures were usually experienced by corporations that, for the sake of economic expansion, went beyond their traditional specialization.

The country’s agriculture is focused mainly on animal husbandry (75% of the total value of agricultural products). Highly productive cattle of local dairy breeds (Simmental, Schvitsky, etc.) are bred. The vast majority of milk is used to produce high-quality cheese (half of the 725,000 cows graze exclusively in alpine meadows).

Plowed land accounts for 6.5% of rural land. Grain crops are insignificant, but viticulture is actively developing. Small and medium-sized farms predominate with the active development of various types of agricultural cooperation. Own agricultural sector provides only approx. 60% of national food needs.

Transport and communications in Switzerland occupy an extremely important place in the entire system of European transport communications. Numerous highways of the continent (North-South, East-West) pass through the country. In the conditions of a mountainous landscape, it was necessary to build numerous and expensive structures: tunnels (Simplonsky – 19.7 km; Saint Gotthard – 14.9 km, etc.), bridges, viaducts, etc. Currently, two new transalpine tunnels are under construction, this infrastructure project is considered the largest in Europe.

The length of the railway network is 4406 km (almost completely electrified). The length of highways is 71.1 thousand km (including 1638 km – autobahns). River navigation is carried out along the Rhine (45 km from Basel to Schaffhausen), as well as on 12 lakes. The main river port is Basel. The merchant fleet includes 26 ships (including 7 foreign ones). Among them: 15 dry cargo ships, 6 container ships, 4 chemical tankers. There are two pipelines in Switzerland: for pumping crude oil – 314 km, for transporting natural gas – 1506 km. 66 airports (including 41 with paved runways).

Telephone communication is automated. Domestically, there are cable and microwave radio systems. The outer part is provided through near-Earth satellite stations (Atlantic Ocean, Indian Ocean). The number of people connected to the phone is 4.82 million people. (1998), mobile phone owners 3.85 million people. (2002).

The tourism industry plays an important role in the economic development of the country. A century and a half ago, it was income from the hotel business that turned out to be one of the financial sources for the development of the national industry. The modern tourism development strategy is based on the concept of using two favorable natural conditions. The most prestigious tourist centers in Switzerland are located either near well-known mineral water sources (for example, San Moritz), or near mountain ranges that are landscaped for skiing (for example, Zermatt). 50 thousand km of pedestrian tourist roads have been laid in the country.

The economic and social policy of the country is primarily aimed at maximizing the potential competitive advantages of the national economy (high quality and reliability of products, specialization in the production of special-purpose products, orientation to foreign markets, etc.). Particular attention is paid to the designation and formation of new “production niches” (for example, massive support for emerging clusters of biopharmaceuticals and medical technology).

In broad terms, public finances are increasingly focused on stimulating the most effective solution to the two main economic (social) problems. First of all, it is necessary to increase the efficiency of the entire education system by integrating science and practice. The use of more qualified personnel in the economy should ensure continuous innovative progress. The second problem is the need for a significant modernization of the transport infrastructure, which will decisively ensure the profitability of the latest types of production. This will happen as a result of a large-scale entry of products to world markets and a noticeable influx of foreign entrepreneurial capital (the construction of the two largest transalpine tunnels is being carried out with budgetary funds).

Economy of Switzerland