New orders received by Swissmem's 290 reporting members advanced 20.1% in 2006, with orders from abroad (22.0%) and domestic orders (10.3%) both experiencing growth. The export ratio rose further, to the exceptional level of 81.1%. Orders in the fourth quarter of 2006 were 13.3% higher than in the same period of the previous year, with both international (14.0%) and domestic business (10.4%) contributing to that growth.
The MEM industries lifted sales in 2006 by 10.9% year-on-year. Exports went up by 12.9%, and domestic sales by 4.5%.
The headcount in the MEM industries increased by 2.9% to 318,499. Capacity utilization stood at 90.2% in the fourth quarter – a figure well above the long-term average.
The MEM industries' global exports climbed by 13.9% during the year under review, to CHF 69.8 billion. Business activity was lively in all the major markets last year. Exports to the EU and the USA showed a positive trend, rising by 13.0% and 8.3% respectively. Exports to key European markets Germany (17.4%), France (13.5%), Italy (10.9%), the Netherlands (13.9%) and Austria (15.6%) all recorded double-digit growth. Exports to the two biggest new EU member states also rose (Poland 24.6%, Czech Republic 20.3%). Exports to the EU countries in Eastern Europe received a boost when the Swiss electorate voted in favour of the Federal Law on Eastern Europe. Exports to Asia – the second most important export market for the Swiss MEM industries, accounting for 15.3% of the total – went up by 14.2%. China (13.9%), South Korea (36.6%) and India (27.1%) reported gratifying growth rates.
Further growth expected in 2007
In 2006 the Swiss MEM industries performed exceptionally well thanks to robust domestic demand and strong growth in the global economy. The sector profited in particular from the high level of pent-up demand for investment spending that materialized in the first half of 2006. Swiss companies also reaped the benefits of having decisively improved their competitiveness by means of far-reaching restructuring in recent years.
Given the healthy outlook for the Swiss economy and the impetus provided by the European and especially the Eastern European markets, we expect further positive growth in 2007. The biggest uncertainty factor is how the global economy will develop, but if the Swiss franc appreciates against the main export currencies this would also have a dampening impact on the number of new orders received by Switzerland's MEM companies.
Political goals for 2007
Swissmem welcomes the consultation process on the «Cassis de Dijon» draft legislation, since this avoids scriminating against Swiss manufacturers, continues to give top priority to the bilateral agreements and takes into account the obligations laid down in the WTO treaty. With regard to the debate on possible future power shortages, Swissmem calls on everyone to commit to making a strategic decision on the expansion of nuclear power. The proposal put forward by the President of Swissmem to amend the Stock Exchange Act should be debated in Parliament as soon as possible and implemented rapidly. Stricter disclosure requirements should make the ownership structure of Swiss companies more transparent. The association is launching a new communications initiative in the shape of the first-ever «Swissmem Industry Day 2007»: a platform for open dialogue and bridge-building between politicians, industry, theoreticians, the financial sector and society as a whole.
Good prospects for engineers
The Swissmem survey on members' recruitment requirements as regards engineers shows that demand for the latter far outstrips supply. Mechanical and electrical engineering graduates are particularly sought after at present. The companies expect demand for engineers to increase over the next three years.
For further information please contact:
Jonas Lang, Communication
Phone: +41 (0)44 384 48 33, E-Mail: j.langnoSpam@swissmem.ch