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Exports move in first half of 2013

Exports of watches were down in January-June 2013 Keystone

Exports from Switzerland have recorded a “small movement” in the first six months of 2013, rising by 0.4 per cent to CHF100.3 billion ($106.4 billion), the Federal Customs Office has said.

This compares to the -0.3 per cent fall registered in the same period last year. In a statement, the office said that the second quarter of 2013 was a particularly fruitful one, with an export rise of 2.9 per cent compared with 2012. However, the watch industry appears to be suffering a slump.

Watch exports only increased by 0.8 per cent, to CHF10.2 billion, between January and June 2013, compared with 16.5 per cent for the first six months of 2012.

Overall the growth rate for industry exports has slowed in the months since the beginning of the year, said the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry in a statement. Three months – February, May and June – each posted a reduction of around three per cent, it said.

“So far, 2013 has been in phase with the forecasts. Growth is still the order of the day, but on a more measured basis than in previous years. In other words, the rate of advance is returning to normal, enabling the results to be consolidated at a high level. The forecasts still suggest an increase in value at the year’s end,” the communiqué added.

The star among the export sectors was the food, alcohol and tobacco industry, which recorded an increase of 9.6 per cent.

Europe and beyond

Swiss exports have been supported by a cap the Swiss National Bank imposed on the soaring franc in 2011, but have suffered in recent months from sluggish demand in Europe, the country’s biggest trading partner, according to Reuters.

The SNB said in June that it remained sufficiently concerned about the strength of the franc and the risks to the economy to keep to its cap on the safe-haven currency.

However, June trade has pointed to a brightening of demand from Europe, as exports there inched up 0.9 per cent after posting a fall of 1.1 per cent in May.

“Generally speaking, what we have seen recently in the euro zone is that business surveys have improved, especially from the periphery, and this suggests a slightly better outlook for the third quarter for exports,” Maxime Botteron from Credit Suisse told Reuters.

There were signs in the United States and Britain that demands for Swiss exports would also improve, he said.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR