Importance of international trade

At CHF 85,000, Switzerland’s per-capita GDP is among the highest in the world. Access to international markets, participation in international value chains through specialisation, and the resulting innovative capability are crucial to this high level of prosperity.

Foreign markets are both important sales markets for products from Switzerland and central procurement markets for the most suitable inputs. Imports intensify competition, which increases innovation and productivity.

Open markets not only generate added value and create jobs, but also benefit consumers through greater product diversity and lower prices. Seven out of ten employees in Switzerland work in companies that are active in international trade in goods.

Open markets are particularly crucial to small and medium-sized enter-prises (SMEs). They make up 99% of Swiss businesses and employed two thirds of all workers in 2018.

Cross-border economic activities also lead to greater prosperity abroad. Developing countries and emerging markets have benefited from integration into world trade in recent decades.

Trade and globalization can lead to increased structural change. In Switzerland, various policy areas - such as labor market and social policy, or regional and tax policy - make a decisive contribution to cushioning structural change and taking distributional effects into account.

Exports of goods (excluding non-monetary gold and valuables) and services are corrected for the share of imported value added and set in relation to GDP. OECD (2018): Trade in Value Added (TiVA). Foreign value-added share of gross exports, 2016. SECO (2021): GDP and expenditure-side components, not adjusted, 2019.
Trade-to-GDP ratio: World Bank (2021): Trade (% of GDP), 2019.
Employees: Federal Statistical Office FSO (2020): Portrait of Swiss SMEs, 2011-18. 2018.

Last modification 22.11.2021

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