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Exports hit a seven-year low

Swiss exports have suffered their worst fall in seven years, after a downturn in the last quarter of 2008.

At the same time the balance of trade surplus reached a new "historic" peak of SFr19.8 billion ($17 billion) - a 42 per cent gain on the previous year - the Federal Customs Office announced on Tuesday.

Although full-year exports reached a record SFr206 billion, there was a "clear change" in the last three months resulting in around half of export sectors producing negative annual results.

The textile industry, with a reduction of 7.7 per cent, was the worst affected. Only the food, beverages and tobacco industry achieved an expansion in double percentage figures.

A spokesman described the month of December as a "mensis horribilis for trade", after exports plunged 13 per cent as demand fell from key markets such as Germany.

Foreign trade grew in spite of the economic crisis, nominally by 4.6 per cent in exports and 1.8 per cent in imports.


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