Switzerland has an affluent and cosmopolitan population of 8.4 million people. Its gross domestic product (GDP) was USD 669 billion in 2016 with 2.4% GDP growth forecast for 2018.
The United States and Switzerland enjoy stable and robust trade relations with total exports of U.S. goods amounting to USD 22 billion in 2017. Services constitute another significant portion of the bilateral trade relationship. In 2016, the U.S. exported to Switzerland over $32.6 billion in services, predominately business services and intellectual property licenses. In terms of total trade, the U.S. is Switzerland’s second largest trading partner, preceded by the EU and followed by China. The United States is one of Switzerland’s largest foreign direct investors, with more than $170 billion invested as of 2016. U.S. companies employ over 90,000 workers in Switzerland.
Boasting a highly automated and efficient manufacturing sector, Switzerland consumes and produces high-quality, value-added industrial/consumer goods, and demonstrates a strong market demand for high quality products with competitive prices. Beyond manufacturing, Switzerland is known for its top tier pharmaceutical and financial industries.
Many U.S. firms base their European or regional headquarters in Switzerland, drawn to its world-class infrastructure, business-friendly legal and regulatory environment, low corporate tax rates, and excellent human capital. Its well-regarded vocational education system has been instrumental in cultivating a highly-educated, reliable, and flexible workforce that has helped make Switzerland an attractive location for businesses. Switzerland’s multilingual and multicultural population can present business strategy and marketing challenges, yet these elements make Switzerland a good potential test market to determine the viability of products for export, and make Switzerland a hub for international business activities.
Many consumers prefer to buy Swiss products and Swiss brands that they associate with high quality, even if these items are more expensive than comparable foreign goods. This is especially true for agricultural goods, which can make it challenging for foreign agricultural products to compete in the Swiss market. Currently, the government imposes high tariffs on agricultural goods such as dairy and meat to protect domestic farmers; tariff rates on non-agricultural goods are much lower. While Switzerland has generally harmonized its regulations and standards with those of the EU, some exceptions exist for pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, detergents, and chemicals.
MISCELLANEOUS INVESTMENT FACTS
Ranked number one in innovation and high in R&D investment as a percentage of GDP
Switzerland was the United States' 14th largest supplier of goods imports in 2018.
The top import categories (2-digit HS) in 2018 were: pharmaceuticals ($14 billion), special other (returns) ($5.6 billion), organic chemicals ($4.5 billion), optical and medical instruments ($3.9 billion), and machinery ($3.0 billion).
The U.S. goods trade deficit with Switzerland was $18.9 billion in 2018, a 32.1% increase ($4.6 billion) over 2017.
The United States has a services trade surplus of an estimated $10 billion with Switzerland in 2017 (latest data available), up 15.8% from 2016.
U.S. foreign direct investment (FDI) in Switzerland (stock) was $250.0 billion in 2017, a 33.6% increase from 2016. U.S. direct investment in Switzerland is led by manufacturing, nonbank holding companies, and finance and insurance.
Sales of services in Switzerland by majority U.S.-owned affiliates were $74.9 billion in 2016 (latest data available), while sales of services in the United States by majority Switzerland-owned firms were $47.5 billion.
Treaties & Agreements
Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association, whose countries are significant markets for U.S. exporters and investors. The two countries have a long history of cooperation both bilaterally and within the World Trade Organization. The United States and Switzerland have signed an agreement creating a trade and investment forum to assess areas where the two governments could facilitate greater trade and investment flows.
witzerland and the United States belong to a number of the same international organizations, including the United Nations, Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, International Monetary Fund, World Bank, and World Trade Organization. Switzerland is also a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) Partnership for Peace program and is an observer to the Organization of American States.