Switzerland shipped US$292 billion worth of products around the globe in 2015. That figure represents roughly 1.6% of overall global exports estimated at $18.686 trillion.
From a continental perspective, 44.8% of Switzerland’s total exports by value in 2015 were delivered to other European trade partners.
Asian importers purchased 38.8% of Swiss shipments while 12.3% worth of products arrived in North American countries.
At 1.2%, a smaller portion of Swiss exports were bought by African importers.
Switzerland’s Top 15 Import Partners
Below is a list showcasing 15 of Switzerland’s top import partners, countries that imported the most Swiss shipments by dollar value during 2015. Also shown is each import country’s percentage of total Swiss exports.
- Germany: US$41.5 billion (14.2% of total Switzerland exports)
- United States: $30.8 billion (10.6%)
- Hong Kong: $25.3 billion (8.7%)
- India: $21.6 billion (7.4%)
- China: $20.3 billion (7%)
- France: $17.6 billion (6%)
- Italy: $15.6 billion (5.3%)
- United Kingdom: $13.7 billion (4.7%)
- Singapore: $8 billion (2.7%)
- Austria: $7.9 billion (2.7%)
- Japan: $6.9 billion (2.4%)
- Belgium: $5.9 billion (2%)
- Spain: $5.6 billion (1.9%)
- United Arab Emirates: $5.3 billion (1.8%)
- Netherlands: $5 billion (1.7%)
Over four-fifths (79.1%) of Swiss exports in 2015 were delivered to the above 15 trade partners.
India increased its imports from Switzerland at the fastest rate, up 541.3% in value from 2011 to 2015. Swiss exports to Hong Kong grew by 183.5% followed by Singapore’s 125.4% gain and China’s 103.5% uptick.
Italy led those trade partners cutting back on their import purchases from Switzerland, down -15.1% over the 5-year period.
As defined by Investopedia, a country whose total value of all imported goods is higher than its value of all exports is said to have a negative trade balance or deficit.
It would be unrealistic for any exporting nation to expect across-the-board positive trade balances with all its importing partners. Similarly, that export country doesn’t necessarily post a negative trade balance with each individual partner with which it exchanges exports and imports.
In 2015, Switzerland incurred the highest trade deficits with the following countries:
- United Kingdom: -US$18.8 billion (country-specific trade deficit in 2015)
- Germany: -$10.8 billion
- Ireland: -$6.3 billion
- Italy: -$4 billion
- Turkey: -$3.5 billion
- Peru: -$2.6 billion
- Uzbekistan: -$1.8 billion
- South Africa: -$1.5 billion
- Ghana: -$1.4 billion
- Burkina Faso: -$999.5 million
Among Switzerland’s import partners that cause the greatest negative trade balances, Swiss deficits with Ghana (up 1,917%), South Africa (up 133.7%) and Italy (up 21.1%) grew at the fastest pace from 2011 to 2015.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Switzerland’s competitive disadvantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Switzerland to develop country-specific strategies to strengthen its overall position in international trade.
Based on Investopedia’s definition of net importer, a country whose total value of all imported goods is lower than its value of all exports is said to have a positive trade balance or surplus. Overall, Switzerland achieved a $38.8 billion trade surplus for 2015.
Switzerland incurred the highest trade surpluses with the following countries:
- Hong Kong: US$22.6 billion (country-specific trade surplus in 2015)
- India: $20 billion
- United States: $10.5 billion
- China: $7.3 billion
- Singapore: $6 billion
- Saudi Arabia: $4.8 billion
- Japan: $3.4 billion
- Canada: $2.6 billion
- South Korea: $2.3 billion
- Australia: $2 billion
Among Switzerland’s import partners that cause the greatest positive trade balances, Swiss surpluses with India (up 959%), Hong Kong (up 224.8%) and Saudi Arabia (up 191.6%) grew at the fastest pace from 2011 to 2015.
These positive cashflow streams clearly indicate Switzerland’s competitive advantages with the above countries, but also represent key opportunities for Switzerland to develop country-specific strategies to optimize its overall position in international trade.
Companies Servicing Swiss Import Partners
Forty-eight corporations based in Switzerland rank among Forbes Global 2000 for 2015. Below is a sample of the major Swiss companies that Forbes included:
- Nestlé (food processing)
- Novartis (pharmaceuticals)
- Roche Holding (pharmaceuticals)
- ABB Group (automation technology)
- Holcim (construction materials)
- Glencore International (diversified metals)
- Syngenta (pesticides, specialized chemicals)
- TE Connectivity (electronics)
- Transocean (offshore drilling equipment)
- Swatch Group (clothing, watches)
- Weatherford International (oil field equipment)
- Schindler Group (escalators, elevators)
Global trade intelligence firm Zepol also documents the following companies as examples of Swiss exporters:
- Baselux Sa Lugano Branch (heterocyclic compounds, printed documents)
- Novametal Sa Switzerland (stainless steel wire, plastic bobbins, aluminum wire)
- Olivado Tanlay (vegetable oil, honey, coconut oil)
- Polarome Switzerland (ketones, acetic acid esthers, acyclic polyhyric acids)
- Starbucks Coffee Trading (coffee, tea, paper bags)
See also Switzerland’s Top 10 Major Export Companies, Switzerland’s Top 10 Imports, Switzerland’s Top 10 Exports and Highest Value Swiss Import Products
The World Factbook, Field Listing: Imports – Commodities, Central Intelligence Agency. Accessed on April 24, 2016
Trade Map, International Trade Centre, www.intracen.org/marketanalysis. Accessed on April 24, 2016
Investopedia, Net Importer Definition. Accessed on April 24, 2016
Forbes 2015 Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on April 24, 2016
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on April 24, 2016