Swiss perspectives in 10 languages

Landlocked Switzerland charts new maritime course

Swiss flag on a boat
Only 14 ocean vessels currently fly the Swiss flag. Keystone / Dominic Favre

Switzerland has adopted the foundations of a plan to revive the fortunes its flagging ocean-going merchant navy fleet.

On Friday, the government set out a new Maritime Strategy 2023-2027 for the landlocked country that will focus on six thematic reforms.

+ Read how Switzerland rescued its merchant navy fleet

“As a globally oriented economy, Switzerland relies on smooth global logistics chains and maritime trade,” the government stated. In addition, several Swiss-based sea transport and logistics companies operate around 900 ships.

However, the Swiss flag currently flies on only 14 ocean vessels, well down from the 50 ships in 2017. In that year, an embarrassing shipping fraud cost the taxpayer CHF215 million ($237 million), forcing a rethink of maritime strategy. 

The government says it is “relaxing the registration requirements for merchant ships” to “create an attractive and competitive Swiss flag with a reliable regulatory framework”.

At the same time, Switzerland wants to play are larger role in developing international maritime law and research while “continuing its commitment in the areas of marine biodiversity, plastic pollution and climate protection”.

The Swiss cargo ship St. Cergue Basel taken in 1985


Swiss merchant navy finds itself in deep water

This content was published on Bern prosecutors have opened a criminal investigation into suspected irregularities surrounding the funding of Switzerland’s merchant navy.

Read more: Swiss merchant navy finds itself in deep water

In line with its general climate policy, Switzerland added that it is committed to achieving net-zero greenhouse emissions for shipping by 2050.

Separately, the government is studying the principle of tonnage-based taxation based on the ship’s loading capacity.

This method of taxation is based on the loading capacity of the ship rather than profit, which should lower tax bills for shipping companies.

Most Read
Swiss Abroad

Most Discussed


russian embassy in bern


Swiss prosecutors investigate suspected Russian spy

This content was published on The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) is looking into a Russian agent and two others suspected of violating several laws. One arrest warrant has been issued.

Read more: Swiss prosecutors investigate suspected Russian spy

In compliance with the JTI standards

More: SWI certified by the Journalism Trust Initiative

You can find an overview of ongoing debates with our journalists here . Please join us!

If you want to start a conversation about a topic raised in this article or want to report factual errors, email us at

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR