Swiss economists insist country must reopen more rapidly

Although several sectors have resumed their activities on April 27th, some experts say that the process of getting back to ‘normal’ should be sped up in order to save the economy.

Swiss economists insist country must reopen more rapidly
Swiss economy must be revived, experts say. Photo by Fabrice Coffrini, AFP

While certain medical, health, wellness, and beauty services, along with garden centres, flower shops and hardware stores, have already re-opened in Switzerland, many other businesses will resume only on May 11th and June 8th.

“The gradual and controlled opening of the economy must be accelerated,” said Heinz Karrer, president of economiesuisse, the umbrella organisation of the Swiss economy.

For instance, although the Federal Council is working to re-open other sectors crucial to the Swiss economy, including tourism and gastronomy, “it was imperative to reopen the entire retail business” at one time, on April 27th.

“The companies are ready. They know how to comply with protective measures”, he added.

Karrer said the concerns of the Federal Council regarding a second wave of Covid-19 infections are “understandable”.

“We don't want that either. But to prevent it, we must constantly respect protective measures and not freeze the activities of a large part of the economy any longer ”, he noted.

READ MORE: Swiss government criticised for not doing enough to revive economy 

He pointed out that faster re-opening of the economy is needed because Switzerland is heading “into the worst recession in 90 years. There will be a wave of bankruptcies, unemployment will quickly increase to 4 or 5 percent and job security will fall”.

Others too are critical of the three-phased approach that the government has taken to end the lockdown and revive the economy.

“Instead of strengthening the testing system, getting enough protective masks and continuing traceability of infections through applications, which would allow people in Switzerland to return to work as quickly as possible, the government increases the damage to the economy “, the Swiss People’s Party said.

However, in order to avoid further damage to the economy, the Federal Council will decide in the coming days on how restaurants and tourist facilities can gradually re-open before the summer holidays.


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Why Switzerland continues to attract foreign companies despite the coronavirus pandemic

Despite the pandemic, 220 foreign businesses set up their offices in Switzerland in 2020.

Why Switzerland continues to attract foreign companies despite the coronavirus pandemic
Switzerland is a magnet for foreign companies. Photo by Valeriano de Domenico/AFP

While this number is 9 percent lower than in the previous year, these companies have created 11 percent more new jobs — a total of 1,168 — than in 2019. Most of the new jobs were created by companies from China, the United States and Germany.

About 3,600 more positions are expected to be offered by these enterprises in the next three years, according to data from SRF, Switzerland’s public broadcaster.

In fact, Switzerland is one of the very few countries that have been able to attract international companies to its shores in 2020, a notoriously bad year for the global economy.

READ MORE: Why Switzerland’s economy is on the up despite the coronavirus pandemic

Experts believe this is due to the country’s strengths, including political, economic and financial conditions.

“Even in a time of crisis, Switzerland scored thanks to its stability, predictability and security”, said Patrik Wermelinger, member of the executive board of Switzerland Global Enterprise (SGE), which promotes the country abroad on behalf of the federal government and the cantons.

There are also other reasons that had prompted foreign companies to come to Switzerland in 2020, despite the economic uncertainty and travel restrictions.

“Protection of legal rights, freedom, and personal responsibility are stronger in Switzerland than in many other countries, even in times of pandemic”, said SGE’s co-president Walter Schönholzer.

Switzerland’s attractiveness is also boosted by studies showing the country’s economy remains the strongest in the world.

Even though the health crisis plunged Switzerland’s economic activity into a “historic” 8.2-percent slump in the second quarter of  2020, the country still boasts the world’s most resilient economy, according to research by an insurance and reinsurance company Swiss Re. 

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) expects a 3.5-percent rebound in Switzerland’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2021.

It said Switzerland’s economy absorbed the shock of the pandemic better than other European countries and it “has navigated the Covid-19 pandemic well”.

IMF added that Switzerland’s “early, strong, and sustained public health and economic policy response has helped contain the contraction of activity relative to other European countries”.