[co-authors: Max Albers, Philipp Dickenmann, Alain Raemy, Stephan Werlen]*
1. What is the current business climate in your jurisdiction including major political, economic and/or legal activities on the horizon in your country that could have a big impact on businesses?
Switzerland has a liberal economic system, political stability, excellent infrastructure, a high standard of living, and a competitive tax system.
One of its main challenges – outside the global challenges such as climate change and migration – is the development of the legal relationships with the EU. Switzerland and the EU have entered into a series of bilateral treaties since the 1990s that have allowed Switzerland to be part of the common market in many fields. Negotiations on the further development of such bilateral treaties have proven to be difficult.
2. From what countries do you see the most inbound investment? What about outbound?
Our neighboring countries (Germany, France, Italy, and Austria) are very important trade partners, but according to official statistics, inbound and outbound investments from several other European jurisdictions are just as important. Second, to Europe comes North America, then South America, Asia, Africa, and Australia.
3. In what industries/sectors are you seeing the most opportunity for foreign investment?
High precision mechanics, BioTech, MedTech, and FinTech. Switzerland has a strong base of world leaders in their respective fields, often run by entrepreneurs respectively family-owned. Many of those have successor issues or seek growth possibilities that present interesting opportunities for both strategic and financial investors.
4. What advantages and pitfalls should others know about doing business in your country?
Given the small geographical size of Switzerland, Swiss businesses are used to cross-border trading and often have English as a corporate language. High cultural diversity and multilingualism facilitate the interaction with foreign investors and business partners.
Switzerland is not a member of the EU. The bilateral treaties between Switzerland and the EU enable largely seamless participation in the common market of the EU but at times there are exceptions that can present a challenge.
5. What is one cultural fact or custom about your country that others should know when doing business there?
Be on time!
There is more to Switzerland than chocolate, cheese, mountains, watches, and banks: Excellent infrastructure; first-class education and health systems; and clusters of expertise in micro-mechanics, MedTech, life sciences, commodity trading, financial services, blockchain / DLT etc. in a very stable political and economic environment.
Last but not least: The Swiss banking secrecy – still a feature in many movies – no longer exists vis-à-vis foreign jurisdictions: automatic information exchange is the prevailing rule.
*CMS von Erlach Partners Ltd