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US surpasses Germany as Switzerland’s biggest export partner

Exports to the US were largely driven by the pharmaceutical industry, which makes up nearly 28% of exports from Switzerland to the US. © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

Exports to the United States have tripled over the past 20 years, reaching CHF47 billion ($50.4 billion) in 2021. This makes it the most important export market for Switzerland.

Foreign trade between the US and Switzerland is booming. Between 2001 and 2021 exports to the US grew by an average 6.3% a year, according to a government press releaseExternal link. This is three times more activity than to Switzerland’s other main trading partners: Germany and Italy with annual growth of 2.1% and 2% respectively.

With this the US pushes Germany out of its spot as the most important Swiss export market for the first time in 70 years.

Exports to the US were driven in large part by the chemical and pharmaceutical industry, which over the past 20 years has seen exports increase from CHF4.3 billion to CHF30.1 billion. Pharmaceutical products’ share of total exports doubled to 64% of the total. On average the industry’s exports to the US grew by 10% a year – twice as much as to the rest of the world.

Shipments of machinery and electronics stayed relatively stable, but its share of total exports dropped from 28% to 8%. Exports of precision instruments and watches increased over the past two decades but also made up a smaller share of the total. Food, beverages and tobacco showed the strongest annual growth of 11.5% on average.

There is currently no formal free-trade agreement between the US and Switzerland. However, there has been talk of signing one over the past few years. Last September former US Vice President Mike Pence spoke in favour of a free-trade agreement between the countries in a speech at the Swiss Economic Forum.




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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR