Swiss firms’ investments double abroad  

Most investments went to Europe Keystone / A3250/_oliver Berg


Companies in Switzerland invested double the amount abroad in 2018 than the previous year, figures show. But foreign investors withdrew capital from Switzerland due to a US tax reform. 

Keystone-SDA/SNB/ilj

In 2018, companies domiciled in Switzerland invested CHF 61 billion abroad ($62 billion) (compared to CHF30 billion in 2017). Around three-quarters of the direct investment were from firms in the services sector, the Swiss National Bank said on Friday. 

“Financial exposure abroad saw particularly large increases in the trade sector (CHF32 billion) and among finance and holding companies (CHF13 billion). Participations were a major focus of these investments,” the statement said. 

Manufacturing accounted for CHF13 billion abroad, with the most significant share here in chemicals and plastics.  

The bulk of the investments went to Europe, “notably to the two holding company locations of Ireland and Luxembourg as well as to the UK”. Swiss-based firms also undertook major investments in Central and South America (CHF18 billion) and Asia (CHF5 billion). However, net withdrawals of funds were made from subsidiaries in the US (CHF12 billion) and Australia (CHF8 billion). 

Foreign direct investment in Switzerland 

Investors abroad made a net withdrawal CHF52 billion (in 2017 the net investment was +CHF106 billion) - from Switzerland in 2018, the SNB reported. “This was the first such reduction in capital since 2005,” it said.  

“As in 2005, the reason was a tax reform in the United States: US parent companies made use of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to repatriate part of their equity reserves from subsidiaries in Switzerland. This was true in particular of finance and holding companies, which withdrew funds of CHF 32 billion,” the statement said. 

“The various categories in the manufacturing sector as well as the majority of service-sector categories also saw net withdrawals. Some of these withdrawals, too, were linked to the US tax reform.” 

Overall, stocks of foreign direct investment in Switzerland amounted to CHF1,296 billion. 

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