Swiss exports “exploded” in February, mainly in medicines

The Swiss economy has never exported as much as in February, thanks mainly to the contribution of chemicals and pharmaceuticals and strong demand from North America. The trade balance surplus crossed the CHF 5 billion threshold for the first time.

After two months of decline, seasonally-adjusted exports jumped 15.4% a month to 24.01 billion francs, the Federal Bureau of Customs and Border Security (Ofdf) said Thursday. Adjusted for inflation (real value), deliveries abroad in February increased by 8.1%.

A limit is crossed

The Swiss trade balance showed a surplus of 5.70 billion francs in February, exceeding 5 billion for the first time.

Ofdf noted an “explosion” in the sale of medicines, whose exports jumped 44% to 4.81 billion francs, while the chemical and pharmaceutical category was coated by 27% to 13.42 billion.

The watch industry experienced growth of 8.1% to 2.01 billion. The Machinery and Electronics segment saw its overseas deliveries drop 1.1%, to 2.73 billion.

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A leap from North America

After a fall in exports in January (-21.3%), North America recovered (+52%), reaching an unprecedented monthly level of 5.5 billion francs, notes the former customs of the Federal Administration. Europe (+6.5%) and Asia (+1.4%) recorded more moderate increases. Demand for Swiss products in China increased significantly (+19.1%).

Imports followed the reverse trend, falling 2.9% in February to 18.31 billion francs. The pharmaceutical and chemical sector (-5.2% to 4.99 billion) pulled the statistics down. Vehicle imports are not far behind, having lost 12.2% to 1.35 billion.

Imports from Asia (-3.1% to 3.57 billion) lost ground, while those from North America (+6.2% to 1.28 billion) gained. Europe remains the main partner, despite a drop of 5.4% to 13.13 billion.

At this point: The United States becomes Switzerland’s first customer

Some details about watchmaking

Swiss watch exports therefore soared in February, thanks to a sharp rise in almost all major markets in the sector, including Europe and Hong Kong, the Swiss watch federation announced on Thursday.

In February, Swiss watch exports rose by 24.4% year-on-year to nearly 2 billion Swiss francs, the watch federation said in a press release, adding that it was “by far the best month of February” listed. in your statistics. .

Despite the high comparison base, Swiss watch exports continued to show strong growth to the United States and China, its two biggest markets. They rose 33.2% for the United States and 22.4% for China.

But they also saw a sharp rise in other major markets that have suffered from a lack of tourists since the start of the pandemic.

The return of Hong Kong

They rose 11.9% for Hong Kong and 24.8% for the UK, 22% for France and 22.6% for Italy. In Europe, exports increased by 28.4% in February, specifies the watchmaking federation.

Among its main markets, only Saudi Arabia was an exception, registering a fall of 11.8%, the watch federation noting, however, that this market remains “at a positive moment” after a very good month of January.

Last year, the Swiss watch industry experienced a spectacular recovery. After a 21.8% drop from the shock of the pandemic in 2020, Swiss watch exports rebounded by 31.2%, according to federal customs records.

They thus surpassed their pre-pandemic level and even their previous record of 2014, a prosperous year for watchmaking.

Driven by luxury watches, the recovery has been mixed. If the restart had started in the United States, before spreading to Singapore and the Gulf countries, the big historic markets where tourists are used to buying luxury goods like Hong Kong, the United States or France would be left behind. (AFP)

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