Swiss economy shrinks as Covid curbs spending

Switzerland's economy shrank in the first quarter as consumption and the service sector were badly hit by a second partial virus lockdown, the economy ministry said Tuesday.

Swiss economy shrinks as Covid curbs spending
Swiss Foreign Minister Ignazio Cassis, Swiss President Guy Parmelin and Swiss Justice Minister Karin Keller-Sutter arrive for a press conference. Photo: Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP

The country’s gross domestic product fell by 0.5 percent in the first three months of the year after posting modest growth in the previous quarter, according to the ministry.

Switzerland’s government tightened restrictions in late December and mid-January in an effort to contain a rise in coronavirus infections, though the lockdown was less strict than earlier in 2020.

Authorities began to ease the restrictions in early March, letting shops, museums and zoos reopen, while restaurants and cafes were allowed to have outdoor seating in late April.

Food services and the hotel industry nosedived in the first quarter while consumption also fell sharply, according to the state secretariat for economic affairs.

But industry grew sharply, preventing a steeper decline in GDP, it said. “There was no repeat of the economic slump experienced in spring 2020,” the secretariat said in a statement.

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Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Switzerland has made reciprocal agreements regarding working holiday visas with several countries. Here's what you need to know.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

Over the past few decades, countries around the globe have rolled out ‘working holiday visa’ agreements.

These visa schemes, largely targeted at young people, allow people to work and live in a particular country, usually for a set period of time and pursuant to certain conditions.

In recent years, Switzerland has expanded its own form of a ‘working holiday visa’, although there are some important differences to be aware of.

Unlike some of the better known schemes like those in place in Australia, applicants are discouraged from moving around and are generally required to stay with the one employer for the duration.

The goal of the visa scheme is to allow applicants to “expand their occupational and linguistic skills in Switzerland”.

The visa scheme runs for 18 months and cannot be extended.

Which countries does Switzerland have working holiday visa agreements with?

The agreements are made between countries, meaning your fate will depend on whether your government has at some point struck a deal with Switzerland.

EXPLAINED: What’s the difference between permanent residence and Swiss citizenship?

If you are from the European Union or an EFTA country (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland), then you will be able to live and work in Switzerland as is – and will not need to go through this process.

If you come from outside the EU, you will only be able to apply for this visa if you are a citizen of the following countries:

Australia, Argentina, Canada, Chile, Indonesia, Japan, Monaco, New Zealand, the Philippines, Russia, South Africa, Tunisia, Ukraine and the United States.

What does ‘reciprocal’ mean in this context? 

Where these agreements have been struck, they have entitled citizens of both countries to certain rights and permissions in the other country. 

However, while these arrangements might be reciprocal, they are not identical. 

For instance, while citizens of Australia can enter Switzerland and work, the rules for Swiss citizens in Australia are significantly different. 

Therefore, if considering each program, be sure to study all of the relevant details as these will change from country to country and from agreement to agreement. 

More information is available at the following link. 

EXPLAINED: How to get a working holiday visa in Switzerland