Swiss machine tool companies are in full force in the German city of Hanover until Wednesday next week at the world's leading trade fair for the industry. Some 144 Swiss companies are represented at the World Exhibition of Production Technology (EMO).
Switzerland ranks third behind Germany and Italy in the number of exhibitors at the fair.
"With about 12,000 employed in our branch, we have annual sales of SFr4.7 billion ($2.79 billion). Some 87 per cent of our products are exported," explains Jürg Pfluger, director of the Agathon company in Solothurn and president of the European Association of the Machine Tool Branch.
"That is why Swiss participation at international fairs is traditionally high," he adds.
Weathering investment crisis
Pfluger says Swiss companies in the machine tool branch weathered the investment crisis of the 1990s better than their foreign competitors.
"They managed to maintain their exports on a level with Italy, behind Japan and Germany," he says.
Although the number of Swiss exhibitors is down 10 per cent from the last fair in Germany in 1997, they will occupy 12 per cent more surface area.
On display are machine tools, industrial robots, assembly and handling technology, software, industrial electronics, and parts and accessories.
Organisers of the fair say machine tools are of crucial importance for the future of an industrial country. They are needed to build machines and parts that are used to produce investment goods and consumer items, ranging from street, rail and air traffic to eyeglasses and ballpoint pens.
They add that worldwide sales in the sector rose by 20 per cent last year over 1999 to €39.4 billion (SFr59.77 billion) because of the "considerable dynamics" in Europe and stronger markets in Asia.
swissinfo with agencies