Switzerland Market Opportunities
The 2020 coronavirus brought Switzerland its worst economic downturn since the oil crisis of 1975. GDP fell by 3% overall to a still respectable $72,330 per capita. Economic development resembled a ride on a roller coaster: while in the 1st half of the year there was the historically deepest fall in GDP (-8.9%), in the 3rd quarter there was a significant recovery (+7.6%), which, however, in the 4th quarter more or less stopped (+0.3%).
A significant decline in economic activity led to a significant increase in government spending, and thus an increase in public debt. However, debt remains low, creating a good starting position for post-pandemic economic recovery.
In autumn, consumer inflation began to gradually recover, but its rate remained negative for 2020 (–0.7%). The massive use of compensation for “kurzarbeit” mitigated the negative effects of the crisis on businesses and employees; the unemployment rate for the year 2020 thus amounted to a manageable 3.1% with a total population of 8.7 million inhabitants.
In absolute terms, the economic decline in 2020 compared to 2019 corresponds to a welfare loss of CHF 21 billion (€19.2 billion). The loss of gross added value compared to the so-called base scenario (without the pandemic) is, according to experts at the Federal University of Technology (ETH) in Zurich, around CHF 30 billion (EUR 27.4 billion).
Additional spending and tax cuts due to the covid-19 pandemic amount to 5.3% of Switzerland’s GDP. The federal government expects the total cost of mitigating the economic impact of the pandemic to be EUR 3 billion in 2020-2021. The “most expensive” item of the coronavirus measures are social security contributions (mainly “kurzarbeit” funding), for which the government will provide a total of €20.3 billion.
To support the economy, the government intends to release a total of EUR 8.47 billion to support healthcare, EUR 2.43 billion, and EUR 1.03 billion to support the transport sector. The government wants to stimulate primarily rail transport, which has been struggling with a massive drop in passengers since the outbreak of the pandemic. Help is also intended for the Skyguide air traffic security system.
A total of EUR 667 million is earmarked for the support of culture and sports, and EUR 27.4 million for the support of the private press. In 2020, the federal government provided, among other things, a loan of EUR 18million to the International Committee of the Red Cross and spent another EUR 9million on development cooperation and humanitarian aid.
Post-COVID-19 opportunities for foreign exporters
According to the Global Innovation Index 2020, Switzerland is the most innovative country in the world, and it has been in first place continuously since 2011. Science, research and innovation thus represent the biggest strategic opportunity for Czech entities in the long term.
In this area, Switzerland is one of the world leaders, and therefore it is in the interest of the Czech Republic to strive not only to apply Czech solutions in Switzerland, but also to find a way to participate in the Swiss ones.
In November 2020, the Swiss government adopted the Digital Foreign Policy Strategy 2021–24. When it is fulfilled, many interesting opportunities will arise in the field of digitization across all directions and sectors. The Swiss also want to build a European data center in Geneva in cooperation with other European states.
According to allcountrylist, the Swiss automotive industry was severely affected by the covid-19 pandemic, and was already struggling with problems in 2019. Like the Czech one, it is very closely linked to Germany. There are about million motor vehicles on Swiss roads (including light and heavy commercial vehicles, agricultural vehicles, etc.).
One-track and two-track means of transport for leisure activities, which respect the specifics of the location and orographic division of Switzerland and are adapted to the needs of the local demanding consumer, are a perspective segment.
In 2020, the Škoda Octavia Combi became the undisputed best-selling car in Switzerland for the fourth time in a row, despite a significant drop in the number of cars sold (9,280 cars in 2019 and 5,892 in 2020). Second place was taken by the Tesla Model 3, which pushed the VW Tiguan and Golf to third and fourth place. This clearly shows the growing trend of e-mobility.
A number of biotech companies and startups focused on genetic therapies and biotechnologies have recently been established or moved their management here in Switzerland. Thanks to the good reputation of local pharmaceutical and chemical research and development, tax breaks and partly the uncertainty associated with Brexit, Switzerland (the cantons of Basel, Zurich, Zug, to a lesser extent Luzern, Geneva and Lausanne) has taken over the role that Great Britain had in the recent past in the global or regional the expansion of international pharmaceutical companies, including Chinese and Japanese ones.
This fact is accompanied by a great demand for doctors and scientists with experience in clinical research, who come to Switzerland mostly from abroad. Possibilities for Czech entities are in academic cooperation, cooperation on clinical research, subcontracting of laboratory equipment, information technology, projects with artificial intelligence or investment opportunities.
The epidemiological crisis highlighted the role of digitization. Many of the emergency solutions introduced in the crisis have proven themselves, and the Swiss, who have been reticent in this area so far, will continue to use and develop them. These are primarily technologies that enable remote solutions for work processes, meetings, working from home, division of work teams, contactless payments, online shopping, etc.
Suitable opportunities can therefore be found in many ICT sectors, for example in e-commerce, fintech, blockchain, web design, e-learning, e-games, etc. Software, antivirus and intelligent applications are particularly promising. The technical solutions available to, for example, Swiss banks, insurance companies and large corporations were developed in the 1970s.
Considering the high costs of their maintenance and their obsolescence, the Swiss market will have a high absorptive capacity until at least 2024 precisely for the most modern innovative technological solutions, especially in the area of development and administration of IT systems.
Engineering is a traditional and very important industry for Switzerland. The number one strategic topic is its digitization, especially the automation of production and processes, new technologies and trends (digitalization of customer interfaces) and the development and development of digital skills, products and services. Investments are mainly directed to ERP, CRM, MES and PLM information technologies.
Healthcare and pharmaceutical industry
In 2020, the implementation of the eight-year healthcare concept was completed, which was followed by a new one under the name Gesundheit 2030. In addition to new elements, such as the eHealth 2.0 innovation strategy aimed at the digitization of healthcare along the lines of patient – doctor – pharmacy – health insurance company or the strengthening of biomedical research and technology. The new concept also takes into account the growing need to secure the living conditions of the aging population.
The provision of nursing care is also important – there is a lack of professionally trained staff in Switzerland. Medical, dental, hospital and physiotherapist services are in demand. Hospitals are signaling an interest in ensuring a sterile environment. High-quality medical devices and aids and special applications, such as nano coatings and paintings, and of course technologies using nanofibers, have the potential.
Agricultural and food industry
Swiss agriculture is an extremely generously subsidized economic segment. High direct payments of subsidies to producers are expected for the coming years as well. In addition to the supply of agricultural machinery, Czech exporters also have room for traditional and high-quality agricultural commodities, especially hops.
Tariff quotas were increased for butter, eggs, flour and other products and their import was made easier. This was helped by the fact that these foods were in short supply in Switzerland at the time of the covid-19 crisis.