Russian crisis threatens 40,000 Swiss jobs: study

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Russian crisis threatens 40,000 Swiss jobs: study
Russian President Vladimir Putin opens St. Petersburg International Investment Forum on Friday. Photo: Pool/AFP

The Russian economic crisis, fuelled by tensions from the war in Ukraine, threatens more than 40,000 jobs in Switzerland and 2.5 million jobs across Europe, according to a study conducted for three Swiss newspapers and journals from three other countries.


The findings, published on Friday by the Tribune de Genève, 24heures and Tages Anzeiger, are from a study conducted by the Austrian Institute of Economic Research (WIFO).

It concludes that hundreds of thousands of jobs are in jeopardy and around €100 billion in economic development is at risk.

"Our hypothesis, from last autumn, of a worsening decline in exports has become a reality,” said Oliver Fritz, one of the authors of the study, the Tribune de Genève reported.

More repercussions are foreseen from the unanimous decision by EU ambassadors on Wednesday to prolong sanctions against Russia for another six months until the end of January 2016.

The EU’s council of foreign ministers is expected to ratify this decision on Monday in response to Russia’s involvement in Ukraine following the overthrow of its pro-Russian president in January 2014.

Switzerland, which is not a member of the EU, has partially followed the sanctions.

WIFO says if the sanctions are continued for the next few years, Germany would lose 465,000 jobs, Italy 215,000 jobs, Spain 160,000 jobs and France 145,000 jobs, the Tribune de Genève reported.

The institute calculates that the UK would shed 110,000 jobs.

In Switzerland, a further loss of 5,000 jobs in the tourism sector is expected, on top of 40,000 other jobs.

WIFO links the jobs losses to reductions in exports to Russia.

Tit-for-tat retaliations by Russia are another part of the explanation for the negative economic impact.

For example, an order for trains from Swiss company Stadler for rail links between Moscow and its airports is said to be “in difficulty”, the Tribune said.

Switzerland has decided not to send a representative to the Saint Petersburg International Investment Forum, which is opening today, the newspaper said.

Moscow has reacted by making it known that no Russians will be attending the World Economic Forum in Davos next year.

In August last year, Russia banned the importation of food and raw materials from EU countries, although Switzerland was exempted from this.

Military contracts are also unaffected.

Russia’s ability to pay for imports, meanwhile, is being hurt by a drop in the world price of oil.

Swiss watchmakers expect sales to Russia this year to drop 30 percent for 78 million francs from 111.5 million in 2014.

Trading companies based in the Lake Geneva region could suffer if global trade with Russia is impacted, the Tribune de Genève said.

Meanwhile, the newspaper questions the effectiveness of economic sanctions against Russia, noting that they are either not applied or they end up hurting the economies of European countries.

“The result of sanctions (against Russia) is catastrophic,” it said.

The WIFO study was commissioned by newspapers in the Leading European Newspaper Alliance (LENA).

Apart from the Swiss papers, Le Figaro in France, El Pais in Spain and Die Welt in Germany were involved in reporting the findings.  


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