Switzerland: Country and Foreign Investment
Economy and Currency
Switzerland's economy is dominated by high-value, service-orientated, export-driven activities utilizing a highly skilled, well-paid workforce. Among the factors which have moulded the development of the Swiss economy are the advantage of being strategically placed on international trade routes, a shortage of raw materials and natural resources (other than hydro-electric power), economic pressure on land leading to high rentals, and the inability of the domestic market to absorb the total output of a skilled and efficient workforce. Thus, Switzerland's major industries include tourism, the provision of banking, insurance and financial services, watchmaking, precision instrument manufacturing and chemical manufacturing. Some companies export virtually everything they produce.
The world's leading private banking centre, Switzerland is estimated to be the home of 35% of the world's private wealth. Banking secrecy and Switzerland have long been considered synonymous terms, although the country has passed many laws against money laundering and fully participates in international efforts against it (see Other International Agreements). GDP was US$46,200 per head in 2012 (estimated), at purchasing power parity.
Since recovering from the global crash in 2010, Swiss GDP has generally grown steadily, with an average rate of slightly below 0.5%. Growth was stronger in 2014, but was rather weak in 2017, ending on 0.6%. The World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report 2011-2012 ranked Switzerland in first place, followed by Singapore, Sweden, Finland and the USA.
Switzerland remains the country with the highest quality of living according to a survey designed to help governments and multinational companies place employees on international assignments.
There are no exchange controls in Switzerland. The Swiss franc (CHF) is fully backed and is one of the world's strongest currencies, having appreciated almost fourfold against the US dollar since 1974. This encourages international investors to house their assets in the country.