Better regional policies could improve economy

Switzerland enjoys a strong national economy but some regions are lagging behind, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

This content was published on January 21, 2011 - 16:03 and agencies

The Paris-based OECD noted in its territorial review of the country that although Swiss companies were world leaders in pharmaceuticals and high-tech goods such as bio and medical technology and machinery, research and development and innovation were stagnating.

The report recommended tapping into the potential of rural regions and small firms, expanding innovative activities, increasing inter-cantonal collaboration and encouraging knowledge and technology sharing.

It argued that cooperation among the cantons was essential to tackle regional growth challenges.

To improve regional economic performance Switzerland introduced the New Regional Policy in 2008. The OECD said this reflected a clear shift away from financial assistance towards supporting the competitive edge and value added of the regions.

The report said that monitoring and evaluation by the government were “critical” to the success of territorial development.

In a reaction, Rudolf Schiess from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) in Bern described the study as “excellent” and noted that Seco would   act on a majority of its recommendations. However, he added that they could not all be dealt with immediately because the timing was not right.

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