Switzerland's industrial production slumped by just under nine per cent during the first quarter of 2002.
According to figures released on Tuesday by the Federal Statistics Office, Swiss industrial output slipped by a total of 8.8 per cent.
Rudolf Walser, chief economist of the Swiss Business Federation, said he was not surprised by the slump in production.
"The slump in the production index is of no surprise to us," Walser told swissinfo, "given the weak GNP growth in the first quarter of this year."
"We also know that investment in construction or equipment was weak," he added.
The sectors most affected by the fall in output were the machinery, metal, textile, clothing and paper industries.
But the Swiss Business Federation says it believes an end to the slump is in sight.
"The next quarter will again be difficult, but the Swiss economy will most likely resume its path of recovery in the course of the second half of the year," Walser said.
His upbeat assessment is based on the positive outlook for Switzerland's main export markets - the United States and Europe.
"We can say that the Swiss domestic economy has shown a very robust economy in comparison with, for example, Germany," Walser commented.
"On the other hand, our export sector is stagnating, while the German export sector is doing better," he added.
The strong Swiss Franc, coupled with continuing uncertainty about the global economy, Walser warned, could pose an additional threat to the potential growth of the country's industrial production.
swissinfo with agencies