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Export sentiment brightens at start of year

SME Export Outlook for first half of 2020

The export sentiment of Switzerland’s SME sector improved at the start of 2020. According to the latest survey conducted by Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE), 53% of all SMEs are expecting exports to rise in the first semester of the year. For 2020 as a whole, expectations are even more positive. The Credit Suisse Export Barometer has also stabilized.

SME Export Outlook

The downward trend of 2019 appears to have been halted. This development is confirmed by both the S-GE survey on export sentiment and the latest reading of the Credit Suisse Export Barometer. For the first semester of 2020, more than a half of SME survey respondents (53%; Q4 2019: 47%) are anticipating rising exports, whereas 32% (Q4 2019: 30%) are anticipating stagnation.

But while the export sentiment of SMEs brightened significantly at the start of 2020, the Export Barometer was still just in negative territory, despite likewise recording a slight improvement toward the end of last year. At -0.02 points, it is now only just below the growth threshold, albeit well below its long-term average of 1.0 points. The downward trend that dates back to the beginning of 2019 has been halted for the time being.

Andreas Gerber, head of SMEs at Credit Suisse, commented: “The Export Barometer suggests that Swiss exports of goods will remain more or less at their current levels in the coming semester. The slightly improved manufacturing situation in both Europe and the US should contribute to the stabi-lization of SMEs’ exports. Only persistently below-average demand – above all in the case of Swit-zerland’s key trade partner Germany – prevented an even stronger recovery.”

Alberto Silini, Head of Consulting at Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE), added: “Global economic slowdown, a strong franc, competitive pressures, and trade disputes will continue to pose chal-lenges to internationally active Swiss SMEs in 2020. That said, we advise SMEs to view volatility as an opportunity: Any company that can consolidate its position as an innovative quality leader in its respective niche will have an edge over its international competitors, particularly in a volatile environment. The rise in export confidence shows that many Swiss SMEs have recognized this and are in a strong position going forward.”

Further information on the SME export outlook for the first half of 2020 can be found in the brochure.

Video statements (in German) on current export sentiment by Tiziana Hunziker, Credit Suisse economist, and Alberto Silini, Head of Consulting at Switzerland Global Enterprise, are available here.

The SME Export Outlook for the second semester of 2020 will be published on June 25, 2020.

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