Chemistry and pharma supported exports


Exports rose 8.2% in September. For their part, imports fell 1.4%.

Swiss exports returned to growth in September, after falling back in the previous two months. They rose mainly due to the boom in chemical and pharmaceutical activities, which resulted in the third quarter as a whole an increase in exports, said the Federal Customs Administration (AFD) Thursday.

Sales abroad jumped 8.2% in September to 20.28 billion francs (nominal and seasonally adjusted). For their part, imports fell 1.4% to 17.40 billion. Over the entire third quarter, the increases are 0.9% and 1.8% respectively.

In chemistry and pharmaceuticals, a sector that accounts for almost half of Swiss exports, they almost reached the 30 billion mark in the third quarter (+ 2.7%), thanks to drugs and active ingredients, says AFD in its statement.

With the exception of paper and textiles, the evolution of other categories of goods was rather negative. Electronic machinery, precision instruments, metals and vehicles all suffered declines, lifted by the weakness of the MEM industry, which is suffering in particular from the strong Swiss franc and political uncertainties, according to previous announcements by the Swissmem umbrella.

For its part, watchmaking stagnated in the third quarter, confirming the slowdown posted since the end of 2018.

On the import side, foreign purchases of vehicles, jewelery and watches increased. "Gold jewelery from the United Arab Emirates is driving imports," AFD said in a statement. Conversely, declines were recorded for imports of electronic machinery, metals and plastics.

Strong trend for North America

Exports to North America grew 2.9% in the third quarter, confirming the positive trend in place since the beginning of the year. On the import side, however, the general trend is negative.

On the other hand, sales to Asia stagnated, with very different trends across countries. Imports jumped by 10.8% in the third quarter, driven by purchases of gold jewelry for recasting from the United Arab Emirates.

Europe, for its part, has remained "on a positive wave" since the end of 2018, despite a decline in third-party exports. Imports posted a second consecutive decline. The region remains Switzerland's largest trading partner (56% of exports, 70% of imports).

In the third quarter, the trade balance closed on a surplus of 5.9 billion, down from the previous quarter but up over one year.

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