Switzerland Economic Profile: WTO


The World Trade Organization (WTO) issued a report on Switzerland which includes an economic profile of that nation as follows.

Switzerland is a high-income country with a population of less than nine million.

It enjoys favorable economic conditions, and has strong and transparent democratic institutions that support trade and investment.

The country also ranks high in economic complexity, is specialized in value-added production, and has an educated population.

The main economic sectors are the manufacturing sector (18.7% of GDP in 2020), led by the chemical and pharmaceutical sector; real estate services and professional activities and support services (18%); and trade and repair of motor vehicles and motorcycles (15.1 percent).

Together, services represent more than 70% of GDP.

Between 2016 and 2020 there was no significant change in the distribution of GDP by economic activity.

The economy is managed with fiscal prudence, and the fiscal balance is usually in surplus.

While Switzerland’s unemployment rate is low, down 3.5% since 2017, trade accounts for more than 117% of GDP.

Economic profile

The customs union between Switzerland and Liechtenstein is surrounded by the European Union, which is by far its main trading partner.

Due to Switzerland’s close relationship with the European Union, the end of the negotiations on the institutional framework agreement raises questions about the definition of their future relationship.

Although Switzerland is a landlocked country lacking significant natural resources, it is well integrated into international trade.

According to the 2021 Foreign Economic Policy Strategy, Switzerland is one of the countries that benefits the most from globalization.

The majority of imports and exports (78 and 86%, respectively, in volume) transit by land (rail and road transport).

At the same time, based on the same economic profile, Switzerland’s rail density is the highest in Europe and fourth in the world, as the government intends to favor rail transport over road transport.

Freight transport by air has grown over the past decade, and half of Switzerland’s exports (by value) leave the country by air.

Switzerland has an efficient airport infrastructure, and most freight trade transits through Zurich airport. In 2020, 8% of the total trade, in particular crude oil and petroleum products, was transported on the Rhine River at the ports of Basel.

Switzerland tops UNCTAD’s 2020 world e-commerce index, thanks not only to very high Internet access and usage by its population, but also to the quality of transportation and postal services that enable efficient delivery.

The 2021 Universal Postal Union report confirms that Switzerland maintains the highest score in the world on the integrated index for postal development.


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