Pharmaceutical and chemical goods pushed Swiss exports to record highs in the first half of this year. The value of goods sold abroad peaked at CHF109.6 billion ($105 billion) in the first six months of 2017 - a 4.4% rise on the previous year.
Swiss exports were further boosted by resurgence in demand from China that saw a 20% increase in value of goods sold. This has helped stabilise the Swiss watch industry that has suffered an alarming downturn since China cracked down on valuable watch gifts in an anti-corruption initiative launched in 2012.
The value of Swiss watches exported abroad fell 10% to CHF19.4 billion last year with the prime Hong Kong market – from which many timepieces are routed to China – collapsing by half between 2012 and 2016.
But the latest figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FSWI) showed exports holding their own in the first half of 2017. Hong Kong recorded 0.5% growth while Chinese exports recovered by more than a fifth. “The forecast for 2017 therefore remains one of prudent optimism,” FSWI said in its report.
Overall Swiss exports to the Middle East sank dramatically (-16%) in the first half of this year as political strife in the region culminated in a blockade of Qatar by neighbours.
With a value of CHF50.3 billion (up 3.2 billion or 6.8% so far in 2017), pharmaceutical and chemical goods continued to dominate the Swiss export sector.
Imports to Switzerland were also mainly driven by pharmaceutical and chemical products. The value of imports rose to an eight year high of CHF90.7 billion (+4.8%). Switzerland’s trade surplus stands at CHF19 billion.