New orders received by Swissmem's 290 reporting members advanced 24.7% in the first half of 2006, with orders from abroad (+26.5%) and domestic orders (+15.2%) both experiencing growth. The export ratio was a high 81.5%. Orders in the second quarter of 2006 were considerably higher (+21.7%) than in the same period of the previous year, with both international (+22.2%) and domestic business (+16.2%) contributing to that growth.
Sales in the MEM industries in the first six months of 2006 lifted by 5.5% year-on-year. Exports rose 7.5%, while domestic sales just failed to maintain their prior year level (-1.1%).
At the end of March 2006, the MEM industries employed 307,825 people. Capacity utilization in the fourth quarter was a high 88.9%.
Slight rise in exports
Exports for the first half-year totalled CHF 33.6 billion. Compared with the same period in 2005, this represents an increase of 12.8%, although there were considerable differences between certain regions and countries. Exports to the EU and the USA showed a positive trend, rising by 12.5% and 7.0% respectively. Exports to the most important European markets also advanced, with Germany up 15.1%,
France 7.1% and Italy 3.9%.Exports to the new EU member states strengthened without exception (Poland +36.9%, Czech Republic +25.7%, Hungary +9.6%). Exports to Asia – the second most important export market for the Swiss MEM industries, accounting for 15.0% of the total – rose by 15.0%. China (+20.1%), Japan (+6.2%) and, above all, India (+31.8%) reported gratifying growth rates.
Strong momentum expected in 2006
The outlook for the Swiss MEM industries over the next twelve months remains favourable. The great majority of Swissmem reporting members surveyed take an optimistic view. The companies still particularly expect to see sustainable demand in China/Hong Kong and Eastern Europe/Russia, as well as Germany. However, the volatility of crude oil prices can only be described as an insecurity factor.
Swissmem – Top political issues
Swissmem is actively campaigning in favour of Switzerland’s billion franc contribution to the EU Cohesion Fund as a rejection by the electorate would endanger all the bilateral agreements negotiated thus far. The EU member states in Eastern Europe are becoming increasingly important as trading partners for Swiss industry. Swiss companies will also profit indirectly from orders arising from the contributions to these countries.
Economic prosperity in Switzerland hinges on the presence of a strong research community. The country has a great deal of catching up to do in this area, with applied research in need of strengthening. Swissmem is calling upon the Federal Council to provide an annual budget of 150 million francs for applied research in its Dispatch on Education, Research and Technology 2008-2011.
Swissmem calls for quick and decisive political action to secure a reliable and cost-effective supply of electricity. Production capacity should be in line with domestic demand. Renewable energies alone are not enough to meet such demand. Parameters should be created for natural gas-fired power stations – available as a short-term solution – to enable competitive electricity generation. In view of the problems surrounding CO2 emissions and in terms of cost-effectiveness, it would also be wrong to leave nuclear power out of the equation.
For further information please contact:
Jonas Lang, Communication
Phone: +41 (0)44 384 48 33, E-Mail: j.langnoSpam@swissmem.ch