The Swiss trading position in relation to the EU is one that the UK will do well to look at closely as it forges its own relationship with the EU post-Brexit. Switzerland is a member of the EFTA and has a free trade agreement with the EEC dating back to 1972. With its global network of 28 free trade agreements with 38 partners beyond the EU the Swiss are a lot further along the journey of trade negotiations and indeed are still in the process of expanding their reach. Interestingly, 51% of the Swiss exports are to markets outside the EU.
All this leaves Switzerland as one of the strongest economies in the world. Manufacturing is its strongest sector, particularly around chemicals, health, and pharmaceutical goods. The famed Swiss ingenuity and precision also makes for a strong scientific community and Geneva is home to many key international bodies like the UN and the WTO.
It could be said that the Swiss have never had it so good with the strength of their free trade agreements giving consumers a broad range of global products to buy from and at competitive prices too. The agreements also offer Swiss producers the benefits of cheaper imports for component parts and raw materials.
The 8.3 million Swiss population are known to value high quality and innovative products, including cutting edge technologies – strong export areas for the UK of course. Over 5 million are employed, many in surrounding countries, such is the importance of their international services industry both domestically and in the global market. Again this could provide an interesting blueprint for the future shape of the UK economy.
Culturally, in business and trade the UK and Switzerland have plenty in common and much to learn from each other. Switzerland is an increasingly important partner for the UK going forwards and, as always, the Institute is here to help you sell into the Swiss market through our training, helpline and education programmes.
Our new Doing Business in Switzerland guide looks at this highly complex and globally connected market that is home to several of the largest multinational corporations and international bodies in the world.
To see the full range of Doing Business Guides, vist: http://www.export.org.uk/page/DoingBusinessGuides