Switzerland’s export industry grew robustly in the first half of this year. Adjusted for inflation, exports rose by 2.7 per cent, led by the watchmaking industry.
However, the figures published by Federal Customs Office were well below the real 6.8 per cent increase during the same period last year.
Results for June were particularly strong, with a real increase of 4.9 per cent. Overall, Switzerland ran a trade surplus of SFr4.61 billion ($3.59 billion) in the first half of the year.
About two-thirds of the branches increased their exports in the first six months of this year, including the dominant chemical and engineering industries.
Watchmakers led the way by improving turnover by 11 per cent to SFr5.6 billion, with sales to the United States and Hong Kong topping the list.
Sales of watches to the US increased by 14 per cent, and by nine per cent to Hong Kong. The largest increase – 35 per cent - was registered in China, which is now 11th on the list of importers of Swiss timepieces.
Good and bad
The good result comes as most economists have revised their forecasts downwards for this year. Many are now predicting growth of around or below one per cent.
"We’re seeing a discrepancy between a very fit export sector which is profiting from an advantageous currency situation, and still sluggish demand in the domestic economy," said analyst Janwillem Acket from private bank Julius Bär.
"But we need stimulation in the export sector to get the domestic economy off the ground, so this is a very positive set of data," he added.
In absolute terms, Switzerland is the world’s 15th biggest exporter.
The Customs Office said imports also continued to rise in the first half of 2005, growing by a real 3.5 per cent.
The office said this was in part due to goods becoming more expensive, rising in price by an average 2.8 per cent.
Energy sources such as oil increased in price by nearly a third.
swissinfo with agencies
Exports January-June 2005:
+2.7% to SFr74.24 billion
Imports January-June 2005:
+3.5% to SFr69.63 billion