Export decline widens trade surplus
Switzerland's trade surplus widened in July as exports continued their long-term downward trend.
Exports rose to SFr16.27 billion ($15.1 billion) from the June figure of SFr14.9 billion, but this represents a real 15.1 per cent fall compared with the same month last year. Imports fell by 14 per cent to SFr13.9 billion, resulting in a trade surplus of SFr2.35 billion.
Six out of ten export sectors suffered falls in volumes of between 22 and 35 per cent, while trade in both directions with the European Union dropped by a fifth, the Federal Customs Office said on Thursday.
The metalworking industry was hardest hit, with the iron and steel "literally melting away" after a 62 per cent drop. Machinery, textile, watch and plastic industries fell by a quarter. Countering the trend was a 42 per cent boom in agrochemical products.
The watchmaking industry recorded a 26 per cent decline compared to the same period last year, with exports totalling SFr1.2 billion.
Exports to all continents apart from South America contracted, with the biggest drop felt in Europe.
Import prices also declined noticeably. With the exception of a 5.8 per cent increase to the United States, imports to all continents were affected, with figures to Africa falling by more than half in a year and to Europe dropping by 18.5 per cent. Oil imports from Libya crumbled by 70 per cent and imports from Ireland were halved.
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