Exports rose by 1.2% to 65.42 billion francs, despite a sharp drop in March. Imports jumped 6.7% to 56.7 billion.
Chaining records, Switzerland’s foreign trade continued to grow in the first quarter. Thanks to the good performance of deliveries in Asia and North America in particular, exports grew by 1.2% to 65.42 billion francs, despite the sharp drop suffered in March. Imports jumped 6.7% to 56.7 billion.
Due to the different evolution in the two directions of traffic, the trade surplus fell sharply, from 2.8 billion francs to 8.73 billion, its lowest level since the 3rd quarter of 2020. . Both on entry and exit, prices rose to very high levels.
From January to the end of March, seasonally adjusted exports increased by 1.2% (+2.4% in real terms, ie, adjusted for inflation) in relation to the previous three months, thus registering the seventh consecutive quarterly growth. Imports increased by 6.7% (real: +2.7%). Both deliveries abroad and those entering Switzerland reached record levels.
On the export side, watch shipments (+5.3% to 6.12 billion francs) made the biggest contribution to growth. Metals (+6.3% to 3.91 billion) as well as the machinery and electronics sector (+2.4% to 7.99 billion) completed the podium.
Slight decline for pharmaceuticals and chemicals
Exports of precision instruments accelerated 4.2% to 4.5 billion francs. These four sectors thus confirmed their dynamism from previous quarters. On the other hand, shipments of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, Switzerland’s main export sector, fell slightly (-0.7% to 34.05 billion), despite the boom in immunological products. The decline in active ingredients weighed on performance. Jewelery and jewelery (-10.8% to 2.79 billion francs) also suffered a setback.
By region, exports to North America and Asia grew at the same rate (+3.7% to SFr14.14 billion and +3.6% to SFr13.71 billion, respectively), with shipments to driven by record sales of pharmaceuticals. In the Far East, deliveries to China and Japan showed a cumulative increase of almost half a billion francs. Shipments to Europe stagnated at 37.5 billion.
In the Old Continent, while exports increased notably to Slovenia (pharmaceuticals), Germany and Italy, exports to Spain fell.
In terms of imports, with the exception of jewelery and jewelery (-15.1%), the textile, clothing and footwear sector (-3.7%) and precision instruments (-0.5%), all other sectors registered an increase in the 1st quarter of 2022. The strongest contribution came from energy products, which increased by 1.8 billion francs, an increase that, however, can only be explained by the increase in prices and not by the increase in volumes ( +0.8%).
Exports fall in March
In March alone, exports fell sharply by 12.3% in seasonally adjusted data to 10.98 billion francs, mainly suffering from the drop in deliveries of chemicals and pharmaceuticals. In real terms, the fall was 8.2%. The locomotive of Swiss shipments abroad, the pharmaceutical industry, fell by 20%.
Depending on the region, deliveries to North America were down 20%, while those to Asia remained almost flat. In Europe, the fall was 9.8%. Shipments to Russia dropped 60% to 129 million francs, reflecting the sanctions that hit the country after the invasion of Ukraine.
Imports in March increased by 4.4% in nominal terms (1.2% in real terms). The trade surplus consequently fell to 1.76 billion francs, after reaching a record 5.70 billion the previous month.