Swiss trade ails despite recovery signs

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Official data Thursday showed reduced Swiss exports despite hints of a recovery in foreign trade.

Zurich -- Key Swiss industrial exports such as watches are still struggling on foreign markets despite hints of a recovery in Switzerland's foreign trade in recent weeks, official data showed Thursday.

The economic crisis cut one-sixth of the value of the country's exports and imports over the first nine months of 2009, the federal customs office said in a statement.

Switzerland's trade surplus over the period fell by 6.1 percent year-on-year to CHF 14.44 billion (EUR 9.55 billion, USD 14.29 billion).

Exports fell by 15.3 percent to CHF 133 billion, while imports fell 16.3 percent to CHF 119 billion compared to the first nine months of 2008.

But a breakdown of figures showed that the trade surplus grew by 7.4 percent in the third quarter to CHF 5.79 billion after falling for the two previous quarters.

Declines in overall exports and imports eased slightly in September, the customs office said.

However, the Swiss watchmakers’ federation said that watch exports fell back to 2006 levels in September to CHF 1.1 billion, eliminating the gains of recent years.

Swiss watch exports fell by 25.9 percent over the first nine months of 2009 to CHF 8.1 billion, while metals were the hardest hit sector with a 35.9 percent drop in exports.

Overall exports towards the European Union, Switzerland's biggest trade partner, suffered the most, declining by more than 18 percent over nine months, nearly twice the rate of decline in exports to Asia.

AFP / Expatica

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