Export Perspectives

Troubleshooting as a key skill in international business

CEO Simone Wyss Fedele looks back at the year and ahead to the new one 

Geopolitical tensions, the conflict in Ukraine and ongoing supply chain bottlenecks characterized the international business of Swiss SMEs in 2022. The environment is expected to remain challenging, but foreign trade promotion instruments will be able to offer targeted support by joining forces to create strong partnerships with clear focuses.  

Simone Wyss

2022 began with an upswing. After the slump due to the COVID-19 crisis, SMEs operating internationally turned to new business and growth options. Consequently, the central question at the International Trade Forum was how Swiss SMEs can identify the opportunities of the new normal at an early stage and take careful advantage of them. 

However, this optimism was quickly dashed: Russia’s military invasion of Ukraine with its subsequent sanctions and fresh supply chain problems made it clear that companies need to be capable of switching into troubleshooting mode at any time. They have to be able to react agilely to unforeseen events – ideally more rapidly and successfully than their international competitors. 

Joint starting position is one of strength 

But 2022 also showed that our joint starting position is strong: Despite the global economic challenges, Swiss companies impressed with their resilience and agility. For example, we observed growing interest in Latin America. We also saw companies successfully identifying alternative markets to China in the Asia region. Swiss international trade generally was on course for growth, and SMEs proved to be active in tapping into new markets. 

In 2022, our teams in Switzerland and abroad were able to support more than 5,000 companies in their international business, working alongside our partners. Our major focus in this is to offer firms the greatest possible benefit through our service. For this reason, it gives me particular pleasure to report that our customers this year have given us a high effectiveness rating of almost 90%. Such feedback, as well as criticism and suggestions, is tremendously important. I encourage you to provide this and wish to thank you for it! 

Looking ahead and making crises “manageable”  

It is now time to take advantage of this strong starting position. After all, the geopolitical environment is set to remain challenging in the years to come. In the event of strategic decisions with a huge scope, the ability to define a few, relevant scenarios, to weigh them up with a view to the future and to be able to respond more quickly than competitors at the right moment – i.e. to make the crisis “manageable” – will continue to be crucial for individual economic success. 

S-GE will focus more heavily on supporting these needs in future: for instance, the selection of markets and business partners, the handling of technical trading hurdles and the early identification and brokering of new business opportunities.  

Good partnership for Swiss foreign trade 

All of this is possible thanks to our teams in around 30 countries and our partners in Switzerland and abroad. We owe them huge thanks – for our great collaboration and for our pursuit of a single joint goal through our combined forces: low-risk and high-opportunity international business for Swiss SMEs. 

On that note, I wish you and your families a happy Christmas. We look forward to continuing to work with you next year – for strong Swiss foreign trade and prosperity in Switzerland! 

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