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

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.

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

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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Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

The mandatory EU-wide mask requirement for air travel is set to be dropped from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still require passengers to wear masks on some or all flights

Covid face mask rule on flights in Europe set to be eased

Europe-wide facemask rules on flights are set to be ditched as early as next week in light of new recommendations from health and air safety experts.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) dropped recommendations for mandatory mask-wearing in airports and during flights in updated Covid-19 safety measures for travel issued on Wednesday, May 11th.

The new rules are expected to be rolled out from Monday, May 16th, but airlines may still continue to require the wearing of masks on some or all of flights. And the updated health safety measures still say that wearing a face mask remains one of the best ways to protect against the transmission of the virus.

The joint EASA/ECDC statement reminded travellers that masks may still be required on flights to destinations in certain countries that still require the wearing of masks on public transport and in transport hubs.

It also recommends that vulnerable passengers should continue to wear a face mask regardless of the rules, ideally an FFP2/N95/KN95 type mask which offers a higher level of protection than a standard surgical mask.

“From next week, face masks will no longer need to be mandatory in air travel in all cases, broadly aligning with the changing requirements of national authorities across Europe for public transport,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in the statement. 

“For passengers and air crews, this is a big step forward in the normalisation of air travel. Passengers should however behave responsibly and respect the choices of others around them. And a passenger who is coughing and sneezing should strongly consider wearing a face mask, for the reassurance of those seated nearby.”  

ECDC director Andrea Ammon added: “The development and continuous updates to the Aviation Health Safety Protocol in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic have given travellers and aviation personnel better knowledge of the risks of transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants. 

“While risks do remain, we have seen that non-pharmaceutical interventions and vaccines have allowed our lives to begin to return to normal. 

“While mandatory mask-wearing in all situations is no longer recommended, it is important to be mindful that together with physical distancing and good hand hygiene it is one of the best methods of reducing transmission. 

“The rules and requirements of departure and destination states should be respected and applied consistently, and travel operators should take care to inform passengers of any required measures in a timely manner.”