Impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Switzerland’s foreign economy

Bern, 20.01.2021 - On 20 January, the Federal Council adopted the 2020 Foreign Economic Policy Report. This year’s report focuses on the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on Switzerland’s foreign economy.

In the year under review, Switzerland’s foreign economy was affected by the state measures taken worldwide to contain the COVID-19 pandemic. The impact of these measures on the world economy and on international trade is cause for concern.

Despite this serious situation, Switzerland has so far managed the crisis successfully from an economic point of view when compared internationally. The measures taken by the federal government, the cantons and communes to support the domestic economy have served to prevent an even more severe economic slump. The global value chains, which are vital to Switzerland and its prosperity, have proven to be dependable even in this exceptional situation: there were no lengthy gaps in supply.

Just how important open markets and the rules-based international trading system are for Switzerland was made abundantly clear in the face of this profound global crisis. However, questions regarding security of supply and the role and reliability of global value chains have become the subject of broad political debate around the world. These concerns about the international division of labour and the efficiency of open markets are in line with existing trends towards more restrictive international trade, industrial policy interventions and efforts to return international production processes to national economies or regional alliances.

Overall, it is to be feared that this trend may continue in an international context, and may indeed be exacerbated in many parts of the world by the COVID-19 crisis and the associated slump in global economic output. The Federal Council is therefore all the more committed to ensuring that the international economic relations upon which Switzerland depends remain viable in future – just as they have proven to be in the course of the year under review despite the exceptional situation.

The executive summary of the report and the chapter on the feature topic are also published online in English.

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