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Switzerland

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Country Analysis: Switzerland

Country Profile
Switzerland is one of the world’s richest and most investment-friendly countries and is ranked one as the freest nation in its region. The country is known for its orderly and prosperous culture, with a modern market economy, and is a member of the European Free Trade Association. Switzerland has a developed infrastructure for scientific research, companies spend generously on R&D, intellectual property protection is generally strong and the country’s public institutions are transparent and stable. Switzerland's major industries include tourism, the provision of banking, insurance and financial services, watch-making, precision instrument manufacturing and chemical manufacturing. The service sector contributes more than 70% of Switzerland's economy, and much of that is financial services. Over 200 thousand Swiss jobs are in banking, which represents~ 5% of the whole Swiss workforce, and they are not the worst paid ones. Switzerland is said to be the world's biggest center of private banking, with more than a third of all private wealth based there.

Economic Indictors
Switzerland hosts approximately eight million citizens with a GDP country rank of 37 out of 192 countries as of 2013. GDP Per Capita PPP steadily increased over the past five years from $47,317 in 2009 to $53,750, an average increase per year of 3%. The country’s economy experienced significant growth with a GDP Grow Rate of -1.94% in 2009 increased to 2.95% in 2010 and slightly decreasing to 2% in 2013. Switzerland also has experienced a low level unemployment rates and inflation rates over the past few years. Unemployment rates have ranged from 4% to 4.6% during years 2009-2012 (4.2%) and inflation rates have ranged from -.67% to .07% (-.67% in 2012)during the same period; both indicators are significantly lower than United States with an unemployment rate of 8.1% and an inflation rate of 2.07% in 2012 (See Appendix A). Switzerland strong economic indicators are influenced by the countries highly developed service sector, led by financial services, and the manufacturing industry.

Federal Direct Investments (FDI)
Switzerland welcomes foreign investment which is not hampered by significant barriers. The country adopts a relaxed attitude of generous non-interference towards foreign investment, allowing the 26 cantons to set major policy, and creating and maintaining general conditions favorable to both Swiss and foreign investors. Such factors include economic and political stability, a transparent legal system, reliable and extensive infrastructure, efficient capital markets and excellent quality of life in general. Many US firms base their European or regional headquarters in Switzerland, drawn to the country's low corporate tax rates, exceptional infrastructure, and productive and multilingual work force. (n.d. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from knowyourcountry.com). The Switzerland FDI has been volatile over the past five years. The FDI inflows reflect a positive trend from 2008-2010 increasing from 15 (millions USD) to 31 (millions USD) however the dropped to 26 (millions USD) in 2011 and 10 (millions USD) in 2012, an average decline of 43% in the stated years resulting in a 77.96% of the total worlds inward FDI which represents 2% of GDP. The FDI potential index in 2011 was ranked 30 of 177 economies, and the FDI performance index in 2011 was ranked 31 out of 181 economies.

Economic System
Switzerland economy is generally described as a social capitalist society. The country’s modern market economy allows the price of goods and services to be determined in a free price system. Capitalism's hallmark is private ownership of the means of production, and Switzerland has to a degree sufficient to carry that label. The economy in Switzerland is a market economy, and the interventions in the market are aimed at making the markets fair and open, allowing the pricing mechanism to produce the efficiencies in resource allocation that market economies provide over planned economies.

Economic Freedom and Corruption
Switzerland’s economic freedom index has steadily increased from 2008 -2012 ranging from 79 -81 peaking at 81.90 in 2011 and current index of 81.60 in 2014, thanks to improvements in trade freedom and the management of public spending partially offset by declines in monetary freedom and labor freedom. According to Heritage.org, Switzerland’s steady rise of its economic freedom is due to its flexibility and openness. This is demonstrated by the sound regulatory environment which encourage entrepreneurial activity and innovation. As of September 2013, country’s Trade Freedom, Investment Freedom and Financial Freedom are 90 (ranked 1st), 85 (ranked 13th) and 80 (ranked 4th) respectively. Bank regulations and lending practices are practical. The judicial system, independent and free of corruption (88, 6th), provides strong protection of property rights (90, 2nd). Just like all European countries, Switzerland has had its issues with corruption. However, the country continues to improve its legal and policy platform to prevent corruption. Citizens in the country believe the government is effective in the fight against corruption. In the past six years, Switzerland has been ranked as high as 5 on the Corruption Perception Index (CPI) with score of 90 and as low as 8 with a score of 85 (See Appendix B). Also, as of 2011 Switzerland was ranked 2 on the Bribe Payer Index (BPI) with a score of 8.8/10.

Governance
Switzerland governance structures ensure a level playing field and enhancing business confidence: these include an independent judiciary, a strong rule of law, and a highly accountable public sector. During the period from 2009-2013, there has been minimal change in the worldwide governance of Switzerland. There has been incremental improvement in 5/6 indicators during this time; Government Effectiveness governance score declined each year, decreasing from 2.02 in 2009 to 1.88 in 2012.

Competitiveness
Switzerland was ranked as the world's most competitive economy according to the World Economic Forum's Global Competitiveness Report in 2013. The high ranking reflects the country’s sound institutional environment, excellent infrastructure, efficient markets and high levels of technological innovation. The pillars of country competitiveness have remained relatively unchanged over the past five/six years. Per The Global Competitiveness Report 2014-2015: Country/Economy Highlights “Switzerland tops the Global Competitiveness Index again this year, keeping its first place for six years in a row.” Switzerland’s emphasis on education and on the job training help bolster the economy which influences the average wage of labor which is an astonishing $95K USD per year. The Global Competitiveness Report also notes “Switzerland’s macroeconomic environment is among the most stable in the world (12th) at a time when many European countries continue to struggle in this area.”

Appendix A Appendix B

Reference: 1. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from Know Your County http://www.knowyourcountry.com/switzerland1111.html 2. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from World Economic Forum http://www.weforum.org/reports/global-competitiveness-report-2014-2015 3. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from Heritage.org http://www.heritage.org/index/country/switzerland…...

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