Top export markets

China remains the most attractive market for Swiss exporters

The Asian country is once again the top export market this year, as the ranking by Switzerland Global Enterprise in cooperation with the KOF Swiss Economic Institute at the ETH Zurich shows. Joining China on the winners’ podium are the USA and Germany, who retain second and third place respectively.


Alberto Silini, Head of Consultancy at Switzerland Global Enterprise, maintains: “These three countries are already among the most important target countries for Swiss exporters. The ranking of the top export markets in 2019 underscores their attractiveness and great potential for Swiss companies.”

Nevertheless, he advises not rushing into these countries and preparing thoroughly: “It is essential to carry out a rigorous market and competition analysis, and also to familiarize oneself with cultural particularities. This is obvious in culturally distant countries such as China – in the USA or Europe, on the other hand, this challenge is often underestimated. We support Swiss and Liechtenstein SMEs in this process and help them to successfully master and expand their market entry throughout the world.”

Top ten export markets

A total of 15 different criteria were used to help identify the top export markets. These included factors such as market size, market potential, export volume and average market growth in recent years. A total of 108 countries were evaluated in S-GE’s ranking. The following export markets make up this year’s top ten: 

1. China (1), 2. USA (2), 3. Germany (3), 4. Singapore (4), 5. South Korea (6), 6. France (13), 7. United Kingdom (5), 8. Poland (7), 9. Canada (9), 10. Spain (16)

Growing in mature markets – how is it done? 

The top ten export markets are almost exclusively highly developed and saturated markets. These countries often present strong competitive pressure, are well advanced in terms of digitization and their customers are demanding. In addition, there is currently increased uncertainty due to new trade conflicts and the increasing number of trade barriers. Nevertheless, these markets form the backbone for the foreign business of the vast majority of Swiss exporters – and will continue to be very attractive for further growth in the future. Practical tips on how SMEs can be successful in this regard will be available at the Aussenwirtschaftsforum on March 26 at Messe Zurich.

1. Top export market: China

According to the ranking of top export markets, China is the most attractive export country for Swiss SMEs. According to Daniel Bont, China consultant at Switzerland Global Enterprise, there is enormous potential: “China offers a large marketplace for Swiss products, and the free trade agreement makes Swiss products even more competitive.” But entering the market requires thorough preparation to register the product and identify the right distribution partners. You want to export to China? Contact our consultant Daniel Bont.

2. Top export market: USA

The USA – the land of opportunity – is one of the most important and attractive export markets for Swiss SMEs. “The openness of the Americans makes local networking easier and can open the door for Swiss SMEs,” explains Annina Bosshard, consultant for the USA at Switzerland Global Enterprise. “Nevertheless, companies should give themselves enough time to market and have the necessary financial resources to clarify all legal issues.” Are you interested in the USA? Contact our consultant Annina Bosshard.

3. Top export market: Germany

Germany is Switzerland's most important export country. In 2018, Swiss companies exported goods worth over 43 billion Swiss francs to their northern neighbor – more than any other country. And the signs for the German economy remain positive, with average growth of 1.4 percent expected by 2022. “There is strong competitive pressure in Germany, so Swiss products need a clearly unique selling point,” says Nadja Kolb, consultant for Germany at Switzerland Global Enterprise. However: “The German market is very similar to the Swiss market, which is why it is also suitable for export starters.” Would you like to explore your business opportunities in Germany? Contact our consultant Nadja Kolb.

4. Top export market: Singapore

With a gross domestic product of 347 billion dollars (2017), Singapore is one of the most important economic centers in the Asian region; it is therefore a promising export market for Swiss exporters – and a starting point for targeting the entire region. “In particular, the ASEAN region’s growing middle class is creating ever more good business opportunities for Swiss companies,” says Angela Di Rosa, Southeast Asia consultant for Switzerland Global Enterprise. You want to export to Singapore? Contact our consultant Angela Di Rosa.

5. Top export market: South Korea

South Korea's economy and consumers are looking for innovative solutions to drive economic growth, and this represents an exciting starting position for Swiss companies that should not be underestimated. The International Monetary Fund expects average import growth of almost 4.2 percent in the Asian country from 2017 to 2023. One factor playing a central role in exports to South Korea is digitization. According to Jaqueline Tschumi, South Korea consultant at S-GE, online commerce outstrips conventional sales. Would you like to explore your potential in South Korea? Contact our consultant Jacqueline Tschumi.

About the study

Switzerland Global Enterprise has compiled the ranking list of the top export markets in collaboration with the Swiss Economic Institute at the ETH Zurich. In total, 108 countries were evaluated according to 15 different criteria including, among other things, the development of gross domestic product, market potential or export volume. The ranking allows Swiss SMEs to classify the various export markets.

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