Leading economists upbeat on Swiss-US trade

Senior economists have given an upbeat assessment of prospects for increasing business and trade between the United States and Switzerland.

This content was published on September 11, 2000 minutes

The US is Switzerland's second most important export market after Germany, and the US is also the most important direct investor into Switzerland.

In total some 300,000 jobs, in both the US and Switzerland, are dependent on mutual investments between the two countries.

Alois Bischofsberger, chief economist at Credit Suisse, gave an address about direct and portfolio investment into the US at a recent meeting of the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce in Zurich.·

He told swissinfo the financial sector had played an important role in the increase in direct investment, after both UBS and Credit Suisse bought two large US investment houses this year.

"The most important sector in increasing direct and portfolio investment is the financial sector, second it's the medical and pharmaceutical industries," explained Bischofsberger.

Bischofsberger added that investment between the US and Switzerland is likely to continue growing as long as their economies are doing well.

His research team at Credit Suisse is forecasting a slowdown in the US economy's growth to around three to three and a half per cent next year. However, that is still a relatively strong compared to other European economies.

Peter Buomberger, chief economist at UBS - also at the Chamber's meeting - agreed that US growth would slow down but regarded that as part of a normal trend.

He told swissinfo the Swiss economy would continue on its growth path irrespective of outside developments.

"Our economic performance relies much more on our European partners than on the US. I think even if the US economy cools down the Swiss economy will still be able to grow at between two and three per cent," said Buomberger.

He also highlighted how Swiss-US relations went through something of a crisis as the government, banks and business community settled the issue of dormant accounts in Swiss banks from the Second World War era. However, he stressed it was important now to look to the future.

"There is still a lot of potential for better and increased cooperation, the US economy is booming, it has a lot of potential and of course Swiss enterprises and Swiss finance want to be a part of it," Buomberger explained.

"For banking there are many opportunities in the US in investment banking and in acquisitions. There are also big opportunities in private banking as there is increasingly growing wealth in the United States and we would increasingly like to offer our services to the Americans on-shore," Buomberger added.

The overall forecast, according to both Buomberger and Bischofsberger, is one of increased trade and investment in the years to come.

by Tom O'Brien

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