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Foreign trade Swiss SMEs see potential in the Chinese market

Bottles of Nestlé water on sale in Shanghai

(Keystone)

More and more Swiss small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are looking to countries in the Far East as potential export markets. Companies from the mechanical and electrical engineering industry are particularly active.

Last quarter, 56% of Swiss SMEs said they intended to export to the Asia-Pacific region, up from 49% in the previous three months, according to an export study conducted by Credit Suisse and Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE) among around 200 SMEs.

Exports to China are thus set to gain importance in the next five years, said the report, which was published on Tuesday.

“Chinese growth and the Chinese currency are set to develop in favour of Swiss exporters in the next six months. Export sentiment among Swiss SMEs has improved further and is more positive than at any time since the abandonment of the minimum euro exchange rate by the Swiss National Bank in January 2015,” the authors noted.

Although Credit Suisse predicted the Chinese economy would cool down this year, it was still expected to grow by 6.5%.

The businesses said potential problems when exporting to China included administrative and legal hurdles. The lack of price competitiveness and cultural and linguistic differences were also of concern.

More than a third of respondents said they already used or planned to use in the near future the free-trade agreement with China, which was signed in 2013. Of those who already used it, more than three-quarters said they had not experienced any problems.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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