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Swiss economy to boom, says top government expert

Eric Scheidegger
Eric Scheidegger predicts that the Swiss economy will bounce back from the spring. Keystone / Alessandro Della Valle

The Swiss economy has held up well in the face of the Covid-19 crisis and could even boom this year, says a top government economist.

Eric Scheidegger, director of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, told the NZZ am Sonntag that the outlook for 2021 is good, despite the current shutdown of some sectors. In an interview with the newspaper he predicts that the Swiss economy will grow by 3% or even 4% this year.

“We expect the containment of the virus to succeed and vaccination to enable a rapid and strong recovery from spring onwards,” he says.

The crisis only caused the Swiss economy to shrink by 3% last year, compared with 6% for neighbouring Germany and Austria and 9% for France and Italy, he says. This can be explained by the fact that Switzerland’s spring lockdown was less strict than in France, for example. “In addition, we reopened the shops more quickly,” Scheidegger told the NZZ am Sonntag. “In general, domestically-oriented companies recovered very quickly in the summer. Domestic tourists also helped. Switzerland’s industry structure, with its large share of chemicals and pharmaceuticals, also proved a stabilising factor.”

He says the second wave of coronavirus infections in late 2020 has had much less of an impact on Swiss consumer behaviour than the first. And the feared wave of layoffs has not happened so far, thanks partly to short-time working subsidies.

“In contrast to the spring, global trade is much more robust. China is growing strongly again, which helps exporters,” says Scheidegger. However, the European market remains crucial for Switzerland, he points out. “The recovery there needs more time.”

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR