Switzerland's construction industry has registered a significant decline in the first quarter of 2002.
According to figures released by the Swiss Building Association (SBV), orders slipped by 14 per cent compared with the same period last year.
In a report released on Friday, the association said the slump in the construction sector was mainly due to a general economic slowdown, which has prevented many investors from ploughing money into new building projects.
The association added that the sharp decline in the number of planning permissions granted for the construction of new flats - down by 16 per cent in the first quarter - was another reason for the downturn.
The report also suggests the decline is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
Worst affected was the civil engineering sector, which registered a 26 per cent drop in orders, while orders in the structural engineering sector fell by almost 3.5 per cent.
The report comes in the same week that the Federal Statistics Office released new figures showing Switzerland's industrial production had slumped by a total of 8.8 per cent during the first quarter of 2002.
The sectors most affected by the fall in output were the machinery, metal, textile, clothing and paper industries.
swissinfo with agencies