Economic and Political Overview

flag Switzerland Switzerland: Economic and Political Overview

In this page: Economic Outline | Political Outline | COVID-19 Country Response


Economic Outline

Economic Overview

For the latest updates on the key economic responses from governments to address the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the IMF's policy tracking platform Policy Responses to COVID-19.

For centuries Switzerland has adhered to a policy of armed neutrality in global affairs, which has given it the access and political stability to become one of the world's wealthiest countries, with an efficient market economy. Its standard of living, industrial productivity and quality of education and healthcare systems are among the highest in Europe. The Swiss economy was relatively resilient throughout the pandemic, thanks to its specialisation in the financial sector and in the chemical and pharmaceutical industries. After a positive first half of the year 2022, the Swiss economy had to face a deteriorating global outlook due to high energy prices and the uncertainty linked to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (natural gas makes up 15% of Swiss energy consumption, of which half was imported from Russia prior to the war). For the year as a whole, the IMF estimated growth at 2.2% of GDP driven by the service sector: in particular, consumer spending has picked up substantially in leisure, hospitality and travel since the lifting of public health restrictions. For 2023, a weaker foreign demand is expected to slow trade and investment, as low consumer confidence should moderate consumption, resulting in an overall forecast growth of 0.8% (IMF). With the normalization of the global situation, the IMF expects the economy to resume growing at a faster pace in 2024 (+1.8% of GDP).

As the support measures taken to mitigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic were phased out during 2022, the total government budget deficit was estimated at 0.2% of GDP, also thanks to a rebound in tax revenue as companies in the financial and pharmaceutical sectors recorded strong performances. The budget is expected to return into positive territory over the forecast horizon, at +0.3% of GDP this year and +0.4% in 2024 (IMF). Similarly, the debt-to-GDP ratio – at 40.3% in 2022 – should follow a downward trend (39.1% in 2023, with a further decline to 37.5% in 2024). Despite the tense global situation, inflation in Switzerland remained modest by international standards: in 2022, headline inflation was estimated at 3.1%, and the Swiss National Bank opted for several interest rates hikes after seven years of negative rates. For 2023 and 2024, the IMF expects the inflation rate to return closer to the Central Bank’s 2% target (at 2.4% and 1.4%, respectively), although the challenging international environment is likely to exert increasing pressure on the more cyclical segments of export-oriented industries. Switzerland remains high atop the list of preferred tax havens due to its low taxation of foreign corporations and individuals. The flow of overseas wealth to the country has come in for much criticism in past years, due to concerns over tax evasion. However, after signing an agreement on the automatic exchange of information with the European Union, Switzerland put an end to bank secrecy. Since then, Swiss banks are required to share their clients' information with foreign tax authorities.

Following a strong first semester of 2022, employment growth recorded a slowdown in line with the economic conjuncture, with unemployment starting to edge up in the fourth quarter. The average annual unemployment rate was estimated at 2.2% for 2022, with a projected rise in 2023 (2.4% - IMF). Overall, Switzerland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world, with a GDP per capita (PPP) estimated at USD 84,469 in 2022 by the IMF. Nevertheless, according to the latest data available from the Federal Statistical Office, 8.5% of the Swiss population is affected by income poverty.

Main Indicators 202020212022 (E)2023 (E)2024 (E)
GDP (billions USD) 739.02799.71807.23869.60915.85
GDP (Constant Prices, Annual % Change) -
GDP per Capita (USD) 85,87392,23992,37198,767103,246
General Government Balance (in % of GDP) -2.3-
General Government Gross Debt (in % of GDP) 43.341.539.137.536.1
Inflation Rate (%) -
Unemployment Rate (% of the Labour Force)
Current Account (billions USD) 3.1263.3079.4467.5473.23
Current Account (in % of GDP)

Source: IMF – World Economic Outlook Database, Latest data available.

Note : (E) Estimated data


Main Sectors of Industry

Switzerland is one of the most competitive economies in the world due to its strong added value services, its specialized industries and a motivated and highly skilled workforce of 4.9 million people. Agriculture represents 0.6% of GDP and employs 3% of the active population (World Bank, latest data available). The primary agricultural products are livestock and dairy products, though the country is also home to over 9,000 wineries. Swiss authorities grant numerous direct subsidies to farmers in order to meet strict ecological criteria, such as soil protection. The country has hardly any mineral resources. Despite the small size of the agricultural industry, organic farming has experienced considerable growth (7,670 organic farms, 15.7% of the total, according to the Federal Statistical Office), but with big cantonal differences. Official figures show that in 2022 Swiss agriculture generated a gross value added of CHF 4.3 billion, an increase of 1.6% compared with the previous year.

Industry employs 20% of the workforce and constitutes 24.6% of GDP. Switzerland is renowned worldwide for the high quality of its manufactured products, which include watches, motors, generators, turbines and diverse high-technology products. The manufacturing sector alone is estimated to contribute 18% of GDP. The strong industry sector is driven by large exporting groups. Basel, in particular, is home to a very dynamic and powerful chemical and pharmaceutical industry. Electricity is generated chiefly from hydraulic and nuclear power, and hydroelectric resources provide almost two-thirds of the country's energy. Data by the Federal Statistical Office show that as of Q3/2022, the total output in the secondary sector increased by 3.4% year-on-year.

The service sector represents 71.9% of GDP and employs 77% of the workforce. Well-developed and globally competitive sectors, such as banking, insurance, freight and transport, have contributed to the development of international trade across Switzerland. The banking sector alone represents 9.4% of gross value added and is in moderately good shape despite considerable headwinds. Almost half of the EUR 8,919 billion assets currently managed by Swiss banks originated abroad. The system comprises four major banks, 24 cantonal banks, 36 stock exchange banks, one Raiffeisenbank and 59 regional and savings banks, for a total of 239 banks with 2,451 branches (European Banking Federation). Tourism, which adds significantly to the economy, helps to balance Switzerland's trade deficit: after being severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, the sector recovered during 2022 when the hotel sector recorded 22.4 million overnight stays during the summer season, 21.9% higher than the same period one year earlier.

Breakdown of Economic Activity By Sector Agriculture Industry Services
Employment By Sector (in % of Total Employment) 2.6 20.3 77.1
Value Added (in % of GDP) 0.6 24.6 71.9
Value Added (Annual % Change) -6.5 7.9 3.0

Source: World Bank, Latest data available.


Find more information about your business sector on our service Market Reports.

Indicator of Economic Freedom


The Economic freedom index measure ten components of economic freedom, grouped into four broad categories or pillars of economic freedom: Rule of Law (property rights, freedom from corruption); Limited Government (fiscal freedom, government spending); Regulatory Efficiency (business freedom, labour freedom, monetary freedom); and Open Markets (trade freedom, investment freedom, financial freedom). Each of the freedoms within these four broad categories is individually scored on a scale of 0 to 100. A country’s overall economic freedom score is a simple average of its scores on the 10 individual freedoms.

World Rank:
Regional Rank:


Business environment ranking


The business rankings model measures the quality or attractiveness of the business environment in the 82 countries covered by The Economist Intelligence Unit’s Country Forecast reports. It examines ten separate criteria or categories, covering the political environment, the macroeconomic environment, market opportunities, policy towards free enterprise and competition, policy towards foreign investment, foreign trade and exchange controls, taxes, financing, the labour market and infrastructure.

World Rank:

Source: The Economist Intelligence Unit - Business Environment Rankings 2020-2024


Country Risk

See the country risk analysis provided by Coface.


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Political Outline

Current Political Leaders
President of the Swiss Confederation: Alain BERSET (since 1 January 2023)
Vice President: Viola AMHERD (since 1 January 2023)
Next Election Dates
President: December 2023
National Council: October 2023
Council of States: each canton decides its own election dates, but these usually take place at the same time as those of the National Council.
Current Political Context
Switzerland's political and legal environment is widely based on consensus-building. For decades, the seven-seat Federal Council has been dominated by the same four main parties: the SVP, the Social Democrats, the FDP liberals and the CVP. The Green Party has been gaining momentum and overtook the CVP getting for the first time a spot in the coalition that governs Switzerland (marking the largest leap by a political party in Swiss politics since 1919).
Two of the seven members of the Federal Council were replaced in December 2022, followed by a minor government reshuffle.
Alain Berset of the Social Democratic Party will be presiding the Federal Council in 2023, with Viola Amherd (Mitte/VS) as vice president.
Main Political Parties
The main parties in the Country are:

- Swiss People's Party (SVP/UDC): populist right-wing group; strong base in German-speaking areas of Switzerland
- Social Democratic Party (SP/PS): centre-left
- Free Democratic Party (FDP/PRD/PLR): centre-right
- The Centre: centre-right (formed from the merger of the Christian Democratic Party and the Conservative Democratic Party)
- Green Party (PES): environmentalist and pacifist party
- Green Liberals (GL): left-wing environmentalist group
- Evangelical People's Party (EVP): centre-left
- Ticino League (Lega): right wing, regionalism
- Geneva Citizens Movement (MCG): right wing
- Swiss Party of Labour (PST-POP): far-left, communist
- Federal Democratic Union (EDU/UDF): right wing

Type of State
Federal republic based on parliamentary democracy. Confederation of 26 cantons (states/provinces), which enjoy fair amount of decentralisation.
Executive Power
The President is both the chief of the state and head of the government. The post is purely ceremonial and by tradition rotates annually among the seven members of the Federal Council. The Federal Council is a seven-member executive council (cabinet) that heads the executive branch, with its members being elected by country’s parliament for a four-year term. Under the Constitution of Switzerland the make-up of the government is not determined by parliamentary majority but in accordance with a four-party power-sharing agreement (established in 1959) and known as the 'magic formula'.
Legislative Power
The legislature in Switzerland is bicameral. The parliament, called Federal Assembly, consists of the Council of States (upper house) and the National Council (lower house). The former is comprised of 46 seats, with two members selected from each of the 20 cantons (states/provinces) and one from each of the six half-canton. The National Council is comprised of 200 seats, with its members elected by popular vote on the basis of proportional representation. Members of both the Council of States and the National Council serve four year terms. The executive branch of government is directly or indirectly dependent on the support of the parliament, often expressed through a vote of confidence. The federal legislative power is vested in both the government and the parliament.

Indicator of Freedom of the Press


The world rankings, published annually, measures violations of press freedom worldwide. It reflects the degree of freedom enjoyed by journalists, the media and digital citizens of each country and the means used by states to respect and uphold this freedom. Finally, a note and a position are assigned to each country. To compile this index, Reporters Without Borders (RWB) prepared a questionnaire incorporating the main criteria (44 in total) to assess the situation of press freedom in a given country. This questionnaire was sent to partner organisations,150 RWB correspondents, journalists, researchers, jurists and human rights activists. It includes every kind of direct attacks against journalists and digital citizens (murders, imprisonment, assault, threats, etc.) or against the media (censorship, confiscation, searches and harassment etc.).

World Rank:

Source: World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders


Indicator of Political Freedom


The Indicator of Political Freedom provides an annual evaluation of the state of freedom in a country as experienced by individuals. The survey measures freedom according to two broad categories: political rights and civil liberties. The ratings process is based on a checklist of 10 political rights questions (on Electoral Process, Political Pluralism and Participation, Functioning of Government) and 15 civil liberties questions (on Freedom of Expression, Belief, Associational and Organizational Rights, Rule of Law, Personal Autonomy and Individual Rights). Scores are awarded to each of these questions on a scale of 0 to 4, where a score of 0 represents the smallest degree and 4 the greatest degree of rights or liberties present. The total score awarded to the political rights and civil liberties checklist determines the political rights and civil liberties rating. Each rating of 1 through 7, with 1 representing the highest and 7 the lowest level of freedom, corresponds to a range of total scores.

Political Freedom:
Civil Liberties:

Political freedom in the world (interactive map)
Source: Freedom in the World Report, Freedom House


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COVID-19 Country Response

Travel restrictions
Regularly updated travel information for all countries with regards to Covid-19 related entry regulations, flight bans, test and vaccines requirements is available on TravelDoc Infopage.
To find information about the current travel regulations, including health requirements, it is also advised to consult Travel Regulations Map provided and updated on a daily basis by IATA.
Import & export restrictions
A general overview of trade restrictions which were adopted by different countries during the COVID-19 pandemic is available on the International Trade Centre's COVID-19 Temporary Trade Measures webpage.
Economic recovery plan
For the general overview of the key economic policy responses to the COVID-19 outbreak (fiscal, monetary and macroeconomic) undertaken by the Swiss government to limit the socio-economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, please consult the section dedicated to Switzerland in the IMF’s Policy Tracker platform.
Support plan for businesses
For an evaluation of impact of the Covid pandemic on SMEs and an inventory of country responses to foster SME resilience, refer to the OECD's SME Covid-19 Policy Responses document.
You can also consult the World Bank's Map of SME-Support Measures in Response to COVID-19.


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Latest Update: September 2023