Crisis stunts Swiss trade
Exports fell at a historic rate in the first half of 2009, the Swiss customs office said Tuesday.Zurich -- The economic crisis has wiped out three years of trade growth in Switzerland, with exports falling at a historic rate in the first half of 2009, the Swiss customs office said Tuesday.
"The crisis has ruined three years of growth," the federal customs office said in a statement. "For exports, it is the biggest decline ever registered for a half year."
Switzerland's trade surplus fell to CHF 9 billion (USD 8.4 billion, EUR 5.9 billion) in the first half.
Exports fell 15.6 percent to CHF 88.9 billion during the period while imports dropped 16.2 percent to CHF 79.9 billion.
The decline in exports intensified in the second quarter with a drop of 18.9 percent, after a fall of 11.9 percent in the first three months of 2009.
"External trade has returned as a result to its 2006 level," said the customs authority.
All 10 of Switzerland's main export industries were affected by the decline.
The metal industry recorded the sharpest fall of 37.5 percent in the first half, and the textile industry posted the second biggest drop of 27.7 percent.
Swiss watchmakers also suffered a decline of 26.4 percent in the first half.
In June alone, the drop in watch exports was 31.9 percent to CHF 1.1 billion, with the fall accelerating after a decline of 27.6 percent in May, said the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
"The value of Swiss watch exports recorded a significantly greater fall in June than in previous months," it said.
Watches at the highest price band of over CHF 3,000 showed the biggest drop in demand, with a decline of 40 percent, while those costing CHF 500 to 3,000 declined by 36 percent.
The Swiss National Bank has forecast that the country's economy would shrink by between 2.5 and 3 percent in 2009.
AFP / Expatica