Are companies in Switzerland in good shape to survive impact of pandemic?

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Are companies in Switzerland in good shape to survive impact of pandemic?
Despite the pandemic, Swiss economy is outperforming many other countries. Photo by AFP

Most Swiss businesses are optimistic about their prospects for 2021, a survey published by banking giant HSBC concluded, suggesting the country might not be hit has hard by the Covid-19 pandemic as elsewhere.


Although recent Swiss figures indicate that the country’s economy and job market are facing a gloomy outlook, HSBC’s study shows that “Switzerland’s famously robust economy is weathering a number of challenges”.

Swiss companies “have shown remarkable resilience to face the turmoil caused by Covid-19", said Jean-Manuel Richier, CEO of HSBC Bank Switzerland.

The report also noted that “the Swiss are much more likely than businesses elsewhere to see the motivation and skills of their workforce as growth drivers”.

READ MORE: Switzerland's economy and job market face gloomy outlook, new figures show 

For instance, 14 percent of Swiss companies surveyed claim to be more profitable now than before the crisis, compared to 8 percent on average in the rest of the world.


Four in five companies — 81 percent — expect their sales to grow next year, while only 9 percent believe their sales will stay the same or shrink.

However, two-thirds of respondents said Swiss economy will likely not fully recover before 2022; 17 percent are more optimistic, believing businesses will bounce back much sooner.

But despite the mostly positive expectations, some concerns remain.

A fifth (19 percent) of Swiss companies said they were worried about the morale of their employees in the face of the crisis. The proportion is higher in banks (21 percent), businesses focused on the domestic market (22 percent against 16 percent for international companies), the service sector (23 percent against 13 percent for consumer goods), and for companies active online (28 percent).

Other concerns include rising costs, instability of supply chains in some countries, and uncertainty around customs taxes.

A third of those polled are trying to improve their supply chain by seeking more resilient, geographically closer suppliers or by using digitalisation.

Overall, however, two-thirds of those surveyed remain positive about international trade, even if this optimism has waned compared to 2019, when 73 percent of respondents expressed confidence about export markets for Swiss goods.

'The road is brighter'

The global economy may get back to pre-pandemic levels by the end of next year as vaccines help propel recovery, but growth is likely to be uneven, the OECD said Tuesday.

Signs that vaccines could now be weeks away from distribution have injected cautious optimism as the year limps to a close with Covid-19 having claimed some 1.4 million lives.

"For the first time since the pandemic began, there is now hope for a brighter future," OECD Chief Economist Laurence Boone wrote in her introduction to the organisation's latest review of the global economic outlook.

"Progress with vaccines and treatment have lifted expectations and uncertainty has receded," she said, acknowledging that virus containment measures would likely be necessary for some months to come.

"The road ahead is brighter but challenging," Boone added.







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