Federal Council sets future direction for foreign economic policy

Bern, 24.11.2021 - Switzerland's new foreign economic policy strategy was adopted by the Federal Council on 24 November. The world has changed profoundly since the turn of the millennium, and the Federal Council has revised its foreign economic policy in response to the economic, environmental, socio-political and geopolitical developments. The new strategy sets the course for the federal government's foreign economic policy in the medium to long term.

Switzerland's per capita income is one of the highest in the world. With few natural resources and a limited domestic market, Switzerland is heavily reliant on international trade and has therefore benefited greatly from globalisation in recent decades. The federal government intends to use its foreign economic policy to preserve and increase the country's prosperity. The strategy is a medium to long-term plan and is aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Switzerland will thus focus on the international rules-based system, access to foreign markets, and sustained economic relations. This makes Switzerland an attractive location for high value-added companies, which bring further employment and prosperity.

The revised strategy gives direction for Switzerland's foreign economic policy in a rapidly changing context. Among the challenges identified are the current world order in a state of flux, protectionist tendencies and criticism of globalisation. The strategy also looks at how Switzerland can meet the demands of sustainable development and increasing digitalisation.

Focus remains on global market integration

Switzerland's policy of international openness has enabled it to integrate in the global economy in recent decades and benefit from international value chains. Building on this success, the strategy identifies nine central areas of action:

  1. Switzerland defines its foreign economic policy interests in a manner that is clear and transparent for all stakeholders.
  2. As a medium-sized open economy, Switzerland prioritises the multilateral approach to assert its interests.
  3. Switzerland endeavours to keep both its import and export trade as open and regulated as possible.
  4. Switzerland focuses on its main trading partners while maintaining an independent position in the changing geopolitical environment.
  5. Switzerland seeks to boost its resilience to crisis situations by enabling access to geographically diverse and resilient markets.
  6. Switzerland contributes to sustainable development both domestically and in partner countries.
  7. To further its digital economy, Switzerland advocates a free flow of data while ensuring data protection.
  8. Switzerland implements a transparent foreign economic policy. It systematically provides information about new regulations and reports on its regular exchange with stakeholders.
  9. Switzerland carefully evaluates the impacts of new regulations and ensures coherence between foreign economic and domestic policy.

Strengthening Switzerland's global positioning

The strategy provides an overarching direction for Switzerland's wide range of foreign economic policy activities. It complies with Switzerland's international obligations and is aligned with other strategies of the Federal Council. It replaces the foreign economic policy strategy issued in 2004, which was updated with additional topics in 2009 and 2014.

The new strategy does not represent a fundamental change in direction for Switzerland's foreign economic policy. However, by including current trends in the foreign economic policy context, it means that policymakers can define objectives transparently and include stakeholders' concerns at an early stage. The Federal Council will now inform the relevant parliamentary committees of the Federal Assembly.

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Last modification 21.01.2022

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