Switzerland: Economy#

Switzerland, a country that espouses neutrality, is a prosperous and modern market economy with low unemployment, a highly skilled labor force, and a per capita GDP among the highest in the world. Switzerland's economy benefits from a highly developed service sector, led by financial services, and a manufacturing industry that specializes in high-technology, knowledge-based production. Its economic and political stability, transparent legal system, exceptional infrastructure, efficient capital markets, and low corporate tax rates also make Switzerland one of the world's most competitive economies.

The Swiss have brought their economic practices largely into conformity with the EU's to enhance their international competitiveness, but some trade protectionism remains, particularly for its small agricultural sector. The fate of the Swiss economy is tightly linked to that of its neighbors in the euro zone, which purchases half of Swiss exports. The global financial crisis of 2008 and resulting economic downturn in 2009 stalled demand for Swiss exports and put Switzerland into a recession. During this period, the Swiss National Bank (SNB) implemented a zero-interest rate policy to boost the economy, as well as to prevent appreciation of the franc, and Switzerland's economy began to recover in 2010.

The sovereign debt crises unfolding in neighboring euro-zone countries, however, coupled with ongoing economic instability in Russia and other eastern European economies continue to pose a significant risk to the Swiss economy, driving up demand for the Swiss franc by investors seeking a safe-haven currency. In January 2015, the SNB abandoned the Swiss franc’s peg to the euro, roiling global currency markets and making active SNB intervention a necessary hallmark of present-day Swiss monetary policy. The independent SNB has upheld its zero interest rate policy and conducted major market interventions to prevent further appreciation of the Swiss franc, but parliamentarians have urged it to do more to weaken the currency. The franc's strength has made Swiss exports less competitive and weakened the country's growth outlook; GDP growth fell below 2% per year from 2011-15.

In recent years, Switzerland has responded to increasing pressure from neighboring countries and trading partners to reform its banking secrecy laws, by agreeing to conform to OECD regulations on administrative assistance in tax matters, including tax evasion. The Swiss government has also renegotiated its double taxation agreements with numerous countries, including the US, to incorporate OECD standards, and is openly considering the possibility of imposing taxes on bank deposits held by foreigners.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$494.3 billion (2016 est.)
$489.5 billion (2015 est.)
$485.5 billion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP (official exchange rate)$662.5 billion (2015 est.)
GDP - real growth rate1% (2016 est.)
0.8% (2015 est.)
1.9% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$59,400 (2016 est.)
$59,400 (2015 est.)
$59,600 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
Gross national saving32.3% of GDP (2016 est.)
33.2% of GDP (2015 est.)
32.2% of GDP (2014 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 54%
government consumption: 11.2%
investment in fixed capital: 23.8%
investment in inventories: -0.9%
exports of goods and services: 63.8%
imports of goods and services: -51.9% (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 0.7%
industry: 25.9%
services: 73.4% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productsgrains, fruits, vegetables; meat, eggs
Industriesmachinery, chemicals, watches, textiles, precision instruments, tourism, banking, insurance
Industrial production growth rate2.1% (2016 est.)
Labor force5.173 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 3.4%
industry: 23.4%
services: 73.2% (2010)
Unemployment rate3.4% (2016 est.)
3.2% (2015 est.)
Population below poverty line7.6% (2011 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 7.5%
highest 10%: 19% (2007)
Distribution of family income - Gini index28.7 (2012 est.)
33.1 (1992)
Budgetrevenues: $215.9 billion
expenditures: $213.4 billion

note: includes federal, cantonal, and municipal budgets (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues32.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)0.4% of GDP (2016 est.)
Public debt34.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
34.4% of GDP (2015 est.)
note: general government gross debt; gross debt consists of all liabilities that require payment or payments of interest and/or principal by the debtor to the creditor at a date or dates in the future; includes debt liabilities in the form of Special Drawing Ri
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Inflation rate (consumer prices)-0.4% (2016 est.)
-1.1% (2015 est.)
Central bank discount rate0.5% (31 December 2010)
0.75% (31 December 2009)
Commercial bank prime lending rate2.6% (31 December 2016 est.)
2.68% (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of narrow money$504.9 billion (31 December 2016 est.)
$508.2 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of broad money$1.347 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)
$1.301 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$1.108 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.142 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$1.519 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.495 trillion (31 December 2014 est.)
$1.541 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
Current account balance$61.2 billion (2016 est.)
$75.82 billion (2015 est.)
Exports$301.1 billion (2016 est.)
$303.5 billion (2015 est.)
note: trade data exclude trade with Switzerland
Exports - commoditiesmachinery, chemicals, metals, watches, agricultural products
Exports - partnersGermany 14.2%, US 10.6%, Hong Kong 8.7%, India 7.3%, China 6.9%, France 6.1%, Italy 5.4%, UK 4.8% (2015)
Imports$243.4 billion (2016 est.)
$247.7 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiesmachinery, chemicals, vehicles, metals; agricultural products, textiles
Imports - partnersGermany 20.7%, UK 12.8%, US 8.1%, Italy 7.8%, France 6.7%, China 5.1% (2015)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$602.7 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$545.5 billion (31 December 2014 est.)
Debt - external$1.664 trillion (31 March 2016 est.)
$1.663 trillion (31 March 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$1.359 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.262 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$1.565 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
$1.498 trillion (31 December 2015 est.)
Exchange ratesSwiss francs (CHF) per US dollar -
0.9992 (2016 est.)
0.9627 (2015 est.)
0.9627 (2014 est.)
0.9152 (2013 est.)
0.94 (2012 est.)