That dollar amount reflects a 29.3% increase compared to $310.7 billion during 2018.
Year over year, the overall value of goods exported from Switzerland grew 5.6% from $380.6 billion in 2021.
Based on average exchange rates for 2022, the Swiss franc appreciated by 2.4% against the US dollar since 2018 but decreased by -4.5% from 2021 to 2022. Switzerland’s weaker local currency from 2021 make the Swiss Confederation’s exports paid for in stronger US dollars relatively less expensive.
Switzerland’s 5 biggest exports by value are gold, blood fractions including antisera, medication mixes in dosage, heterocyclics and nucleic acids, then wrist or pocket watches excluding those without a precious metal case. Collectively, that quintet of most valuable Swiss exports account for well over half (57.3%) of the overall value of Switzerland’s exported goods during 2022.
Switzerland’s Best International Trade Customers
The latest available country-specific data shows that 73.5% of products exported from Switzerland were bought by importers in: United States of America (16.3% of the Swiss total), Germany (13.4%), mainland China (11%), Italy (6.4%), France (5.3%), India (3.7%), United Kingdom (3.3%), Türkiye (3.1%), Slovenia (3%), Austria (2.7%), Spain (also 2.7%) and Singapore (2.6%).
From a continental perspective, 45.7% of Switzerland exports by value were delivered to fellow European countries while 33.3% were sold to importers in Asia. Switzerland shipped another 17.8% worth of goods to North America.
Smaller percentages went to Latin America (1.4%) excluding Mexico but including the Caribbean, Africa (0.9%) then Oceania (0.7%) led by Australia.
Given Switzerland’s population of 8.735 million people, its total $401.9 billion in 2022 exports translates to roughly $46,000 for every resident in the central European nation. That per-capita dollar amount is higher than the average $43,800 for one year earlier in 2021.
Switzerland’s Top 10 Exports
The following export product groups categorize the highest dollar value in Swiss global shipments during 2022. Also shown is the percentage share each export category represents in terms of overall exports from Switzerland.
- Gems, precious metals: US$120.3 billion (29.9% of total exports)
- Pharmaceuticals: $98.1 billion (24.4%)
- Organic chemicals: $31 billion (7.7%)
- Clocks, watches including parts: $26 billion (6.5%)
- Machinery including computers: $24.3 billion (6%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $19.2 billion (4.8%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: $14.1 billion (3.5%)
- Mineral fuels including oil: $10.9 billion (2.7%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: $6.3 billion (1.6%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $4 billion (1%)
Switzerland’s top 10 exports accounted for 88.1% of the overall value of its global shipments.
Mineral fuels including oil was the fastest grower among the top 10 export categories, up by 154.9% from 2021 to 2022.
In second place for improving export sales was gems and precious metals which rose 13%, propelled by greater revenues from exported Swiss gold.
Switzerland’s shipments of clocks and watches including parts posted the third-fastest gain in value up by 6.5% year over year.
The lone decliner among Switzerland’s top 10 export categories was pharmaceuticals, dragged down by a -3.4% reduction.
Note that the results listed above are at the categorized two-digit Harmonized Tariff System (HTS) code level. For a more granular view of exported goods at the four-digit HTS code level, see the section Searchable List of Switzerland’s Most Valuable Export Products further down below.
Products Generating Switzerland’s Greatest Surpluses
Switzerland posted a $45.3 billion trade surplus for 2022. That positive balance represents a -19.3% decrease from $56.1 billion in black ink one year earlier.
The following types of Swiss product shipments represent positive net exports or a trade balance surplus. Investopedia defines net exports as the value of a country’s total exports minus the value of its total imports.
In a nutshell, net exports represent the amount by which foreign spending on a home country’s goods or services exceeds or lags the home country’s spending on foreign goods or services.
- Pharmaceuticals: US$49.5 billion (Down by -16.6% since 2021)
- Clocks, watches including parts: $22.3 billion (Up by 6.9%)
- Organic chemicals: $21.8 billion (Up by 0.2%)
- Optical, technical, medical apparatus: $9.9 billion (Down by -1.7%)
- Gems, precious metals: $2.7 billion (Down by -159.5%)
- Machinery including computers: $2.5 billion (Down by -15.4%)
- Perfumes, cosmetics: $2.2 billion (Down by -1.5%)
- Coffee, tea, spices: $2 billion (Down by -19.1%)
- Base metal tools, cutlery: $958.6 million (Down by -7.8%)
- Tanning, dyes, paints, varnishes, ink: $858.5 million (Down by -4.3%)
Switzerland has highly positive net exports in the international trade of drugs and medicines. In turn, these cashflows indicate Switzerland’s strong competitive advantages under the pharmaceuticals product category.
Products Causing Switzerland’s Biggest Deficits
Below are exports from Switzerland that result in negative net exports or product trade balance deficits. These negative net exports reveal product categories where foreign spending on home country Switzerland’s goods trail Swiss importer spending on foreign products.
- Vehicles: -US$13.9 billion (Up by 7.1% since 2021)
- Mineral fuels including oil: -$12.7 billion (Up by 92.6%)
- Furniture, bedding, lighting, signs, prefabricated buildings: -$4.4 billion (Down by -3.2%)
- Electrical machinery, equipment: -$4.4 billion (Up by 34.3%)
- Clothing, accessories (not knit or crochet): -$2.7 billion (Up by 0.9%)
- Knit or crochet clothing, accessories: -$2.6 billion (Down by -0.7%)
- Iron, steel: -$2.2 billion (Up by 26%)
- Plastics, plastic articles: -$2.1 billion (Up by 9.1%)
- Wood: -$1.8 billion (Up by 1.6%)
- Footwear: -$1.6 billion (Up by 4.5%)
Switzerland has highly negative net exports and therefore deep international trade deficits for automobile parts or accessories and cars.
These cashflow deficiencies clearly indicate Switzerland’s competitive disadvantages in the international markets under the vehicles category.
Biggest Swiss Export Companies
Based on Forbes Global 2000 rankings, here are examples of large international trade players from Switzerland. Shown within parentheses are the types of products each company provides.
- Nestlé (food processing)
- Novartis (pharmaceuticals)
- Roche Holding (pharmaceuticals)
- ABB Group (automation technology)
- Holcim (construction materials)
- Glencore International (diversified metals)
- Syngenta (pesticides, specialized chemicals)
- TE Connectivity (electronics)
- Transocean (offshore drilling equipment)
- Swatch Group (clothing, watches)
- Weatherford International (oil field equipment)
- Schindler Group (escalators, elevators)
Global trade intelligence firm Zepol also documents the following companies as examples of Swiss exporters.
- Baselux Sa Lugano Branch (heterocyclic compounds, printed documents)
- Novametal Sa Switzerland (stainless steel wire, plastic bobbins, aluminum wire)
- Olivado Tanlay (vegetable oil, honey, coconut oil)
- Polarome Switzerland (ketones, acetic acid esthers, acyclic polyhyric acids)
- Starbucks Coffee Trading (coffee, tea, paper bags)
Searchable List of Switzerland’s Most Valuable Export Products
At the more granular four-digit HTS code level, the following searchable table displays 100 of the most in-demand goods shipped from Switzerland during 2022. Shown beside each product label is its total export value then the percentage increase or decrease since 2021.
|Rank||Swiss Export Product||Value (US$)||YOY|
|2||Blood fractions (including antisera)||$50,368,890,000||-0.5%|
|3||Medication mixes in dosage||$49,771,483,000||-6.6%|
|4||Heterocyclics, nucleic acids||$15,092,277,000||+16.2%|
|5||Wrist/pocket watches (no precious metal case)||$15,009,585,000||+5.4%|
|8||Wrist/pocket watches (precious metal case)||$8,245,149,000||+9.1%|
|10||Electro-medical equip (e.g. xrays)||$3,865,787,000||-1.3%|
|12||Hormones, miscellaneous steroids||$3,380,666,000||-16.8%|
|14||Taps, valves, similar appliances||$2,214,377,000||+4.6%|
|16||Physical/chemical analysis tools||$2,243,707,000||-9.7%|
|19||Scents used for beverage or industrial manufacturing||$1,856,156,000||-1%|
|20||Non-alcoholic drinks (not water/juice/milk)||$1,975,314,000||-7.6%|
|21||Electric motors, generators||$1,849,185,000||-1.5%|
|22||Hand-drawn paintings, drawings||$811,837,000||+121.4%|
|25||Beauty/makeup/skin care preparations||$1,576,557,000||+1.4%|
|27||Liquid/gas checking instruments||$1,350,029,000||+5.8%|
|28||Lower-voltage switches, fuses||$1,405,893,000||+1.3%|
|30||Aluminum plates, sheets, strips||$1,074,194,000||+22.6%|
|31||Air or vacuum pumps||$1,176,601,000||+11.2%|
|33||Other measuring/testing machines||$1,250,360,000||-2.3%|
|35||Electrical converters/power units||$1,149,859,000||+0.2%|
|37||Other machine parts, accessories||$1,035,618,000||+1.2%|
|38||Miscellaneous plastic items||$991,241,000||+0.6%|
|40||Processed petroleum oils||$358,312,000||+163.3%|
|41||Iron and steel screws, bolts, nuts, washers||$941,079,000||-1.4%|
|44||Chocolate, other cocoa preparations||$854,755,000||+3.1%|
|45||Dishwashing, clean/dry/fill machines||$943,669,000||-7.6%|
|46||Plastic packing goods, lids, caps||$827,725,000||+5%|
|47||Electric circuit parts, fuses, switches||$854,874,000||+0.5%|
|48||Transmission shafts, gears, clutches||$871,110,000||-1.7%|
|49||Liquid pumps and elevators||$789,662,000||+2.1%|
|50||Material removal machine-tools||$754,245,000||+6.3%|
|51||High-voltage switches, fuses||$711,341,000||+9.4%|
|52||Medication mixes not in dosage||$551,113,000||+40.8%|
|53||Centrifuges, filters and purifiers||$722,883,000||+6.6%|
|54||Precious metal waste, scrap||$811,500,000||-7.4%|
|55||Electric water heaters, hair dryers||$729,652,000||+1.8%|
|57||Electrical/optical circuit boards, panels||$673,375,000||+7.4%|
|59||Interchangeable hand/machine tools||$790,910,000||-9.4%|
|60||Plastic tubes, pipes, fittings||$646,400,000||+5.8%|
|63||Hand saws, blades||$681,481,000||-2.2%|
|64||Sutures, special pharmaceutical goods||$822,421,000||-19.1%|
|65||Other food preparations||$678,625,000||-2.4%|
|68||Computers, optical readers||$639,340,000||-3.7%|
|69||Metal soldering/hot-spray equipment||$616,541,000||-1.8%|
|70||Precious metal compounds||$593,332,000||+0.9%|
|71||Machine tools for sharpening, grinding, polishing||$516,309,000||+15.7%|
|72||Precious/semi-precious stones (unstrung)||$594,777,000||-1.8%|
|73||Miscellaneous iron or steel items||$552,294,000||+4.6%|
|75||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$509,469,000||+9.1%|
|76||Cases, handbags, wallets||$614,744,000||-12%|
|77||Rubber/plastic article making machines||$571,809,000||-5.7%|
|78||Railway/subway coaches, vans, trucks||$555,795,000||-3.6%|
|80||Chemical industry products/residuals||$583,307,000||-11.4%|
|81||Plastic plates, sheets, film, tape, strips||$512,882,000||-0.6%|
|83||Solar power diodes/semi-conductors||$508,570,000||-2.3%|
|84||Machinery for making semi-conductors||$442,383,000||+11.4%|
|85||Men's suits, trousers (not knit or crochet)||$509,559,000||-6.3%|
|86||Women's clothing (not knit or crochet)||$486,725,000||-2%|
|87||Aircraft or spacecraft parts||$469,657,000||+0%|
|88||Flour/meal/starch/malt extract food preparations||$455,189,000||+2.8%|
|89||Copper waste, scrap||$512,283,000||-8.9%|
|92||Phone devices including smartphones||$522,147,000||-13%|
|95||Synthetic organic coloring||$448,881,000||-4.8%|
|96||Miscellaneous iron and steel structures||$425,156,000||-0%|
|97||Other clock/watch parts||$418,370,000||+1%|
These 100 exported goods were worth a subtotal of US$357.3 billion or 88.9% by value for all products exported from Switzerland during 2022.
In macroeconomic terms, Switzerland’s total exported goods represent 54.5% of its overall Gross Domestic Product for 2022 ($737.8 billion valued in Purchasing Power Parity US dollars). That 54.5% for exports to overall GDP in PPP for 2022 compares to 56.1% for 2021. Those percentages suggest a relatively decreasing reliance on products sold on international markets for Switzerland’s total economic performance.
Another key indicator of a country’s economic performance is its unemployment rate. Switzerland’s unemployment rate averaged 2.23% for 2022, down from an average 2.993% for 2021 according to the International Monetary Fund.
Switzerland’s capital city is Bern.
See also Switzerland’s Top Trading Partners, Switzerland’s Top 10 Imports and Switzerland’s Top 10 Major Export Companies
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Forbes Global 2000 rankings, The World’s Biggest Public Companies. Accessed on March 25, 2023
International Monetary Fund, Exchange Rates selected indicators (Domestic Currency per U.S. dollar, period average). Accessed on March 25, 2023
International Monetary Fund, World Economic Outlook Database (GDP based on Purchasing Power Parity). Accessed on March 25, 2023
International Trade Centre, Trade Map. Accessed on March 25, 2023
Investopedia, Net Exports Definition. Accessed on March 25, 2023
Wikipedia, Gross domestic product. Accessed on March 25, 2023
Wikipedia, List of Companies of Switzerland. Accessed on March 25, 2023
Wikipedia, Purchasing power parity. Accessed on March 25, 2023
Zepol’s company summary highlights by country. Accessed on March 25, 2023