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Swiss foreign trade 2021

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Swiss foreign trade 2021


Swiss foreign trade 2021: Chemistry Pharma Life Sciences - an essential mainstay

Exports of the Chemistry Pharma Life Sciences industries rose further to CHF 130.87 billion in 2021 despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Business-friendly framework conditions are essential if the Swiss economy is to continue to benefit to the same extent from the exports of scienceindustries member companies in the future. As the EU is the central sales market, secure access to this important single market remains a priority.

Despite the COVID-19 pandemic and partially disrupted supply chains, Chemistry Pharma Life Sciences companies increased their exports by 12.4% year-on-year in 2021 (2020: CHF 116.42 billion) and reported an export volume of CHF 130.87 billion. Swiss foreign trade thus benefited substantially from the exports of our industries, which accounted for 50.4% last year. This is half of Switzerland’s total exports and therefore an essential cornerstone of our economy and our prosperity. 

Pharmaceutical products, vitamins and diagnostics accounted for the lion’s share of our industries' exports: at 83.3%, they are the most important product group. A year-on-year increase of 9.9% to CHF 108.96 billion was recorded, and the segment now accounts for 42% of total Swiss exports.

EU most important sales market and supplier to our industries
Almost half of the exports (49.4%) went to the countries of the European Union. With a volume of CHF 64.66 billion, these remain the most important trading partners of the Chemistry Pharma Life Sciences industries. After Europe, North America is the second most important purchasing region (CHF 32.42 billion). As an emerging market, Asia is already the third most important buyer of our innovative products at CHF 21.04 billion.

More than two-thirds (69.11%) of the imports of Chemistry Pharma Life Sciences come from the EU, making the EU by far the most important trading partner for our industries. The EU is also the most important supplier of raw materials, semi-finished products and finished products to our industries.

Economic locational advantages need to be secured quickly
Until now, the bilateral agreements have guaranteed regulated access to the EU single market, which was an important locational factor for international companies in Switzerland. Following the termination of negotiations for an institutional framework agreement, this orderly relationship is in jeopardy. The priority now is to push ahead with the expansion of market access and prevent the erosion of existing market access agreements and other locational advantages.

In view of the OECD tax reform and uniform corporate taxation in Europe, it is important to secure local tax advantages. This includes the abolition of stamp duty, which will be put to the vote on 13 February 2022. Ensuring freedom of research is also key, but this is severely endangered by the initiative to ban animal and human experiments that will be put to the vote on the same day. Finally, a rapid renewed full association with the EU research programme Horizon Europe is necessary, as recently called for in a Resolution of scienceindustries, the ETH Board and swissuniversities.

US once again most important export country in 2021
With a share of almost 23% and a volume of CHF 30.05 billion, the US remains the most important buyer of the products of the scienceindustries member companies. This corresponds to an increase of 15.9%. Germany (CHF 17.95 billion) and Spain (CHF 10.6 billion) come second and third.

For more figures, please refer to our foreign trade statistics

Information on this media release:
Stephan Mumenthaler, Director, tel. +41 44 368 17 20

Sabrina Ketterer, Communication, tel. +41 44 368 17 43


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