Home News Success thanks to the bilateral agreements
Contact Person  Ivo Zimmermann Ivo Zimmermann
Head of Unit
+41 44 384 48 50 +41 44 384 48 50 i.zimmermannnoSpam@swissmem.ch

Success thanks to the bilateral agreements

The bilateral agreements provide companies in Switzerland's mechanical and electrical engineering industries (MEM industries) with non-discriminatory access to the huge EU single market, and thus to new markets and customers. They cut firms' operating costs, boost their innovative capacity, promote investment in Swiss industry and safeguard jobs. The interplay between the individual agreements strengthens their overall utility significantly, with the result that these accords enhance both the competitiveness of Swiss businesses and the country's attractiveness as a location for industry. Almost 80% of companies in the MEM industries rate the bilateral agreements as important to indispensable. Moreover, the EU is set to remain the most important market for the Swiss MEM industries in future. These are the findings of the comprehensive study carried out by BAKBASEL on behalf of Swissmem in spring 2015. Given the huge significance of the bilateral agreements, Swissmem will fight vigorously to preserve them, and is launching its own campaign in support of this goal.

Article 121a of the Swiss Constitution, which has been in force since the adoption of the "against mass immigration" initiative, conflicts with the agreement with the EU on the free movement of persons. Depending on how this new constitutional rule is implemented and on how any renegotiations with the EU turn out, this may result in the termination of the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons and thereby, automatically, of the other Bilateral I agreements. 

The Swiss MEM industries export almost 80% of their products. With a share of around 60%, the EU is by far the most important market for the MEM industries. Swissmem commissioned BAK Basel Economics (BAKBASEL) to investigate the significance of the bilateral agreements for the MEM industries. BAKBASEL, which specializes in economic analysis and forecasting, conducted a comprehensive survey of Swissmem members in which 184 companies participated. The study was augmented with in-depth one-on-one interviews with selected company representatives and with a targeted economic analysis. 

Immense significance of bilateral agreements for MEM industries

The results of the survey are unequivocal: almost 80% of companies in the MEM industries rate the bilateral agreements package as a whole as important to indispensable. In its analysis, BAKBASEL concludes that these agreements bring the companies in the Swiss MEM industries crucial advantages. They:   

  • boost companies' innovative capacity; 
  • cut their operating costs; 
  • safeguard jobs in Switzerland; 
  • lead to higher investment in Swiss sites; and
  • open the door to new markets and customers within the EU.

Moreover, the BAKBASEL study shows that the interplay between the individual agreements strengthens their overall utility in a variety of ways, and that this is generating a lasting pay-off for Switzerland as a location for industry. The bilateral agreements: 

  • boost companies' ability to compete at international level;
  • enhance Switzerland's attractiveness as a location for industry; and 
  • help assure its future viability. 

The EU will remain the key driver of growth in the MEM industries in the decade to come. According to BAKBASEL, in the next ten years around 43% of the expected growth in external demand will come from the EU. Provided this demand can be harnessed, it could mean an estimated CHF 3.3 billion growth in value added, and 5,500 new jobs. 

Swissmem campaign to support the bilateral approach

"The BAKBASEL study confirms the tremendous significance of the bilateral agreements for the MEM industries and for Swiss industry as a whole", says Hans Hess, President of Swissmem. "In my view, they are indispensable. For that reason, I shall do everything in my power to ensure that the bilateral approach is maintained." To this end, Swissmem is launching an online platform. Under www.wir-bleiben-erfolgreich.ch

Swissmem will provide an ongoing opportunity for business people to air their views, publish success stories and generally underscore the benefits of the bilateral agreements by contributing facts and opinions.       

For further information, please contact:

Ivo Zimmermann, Head of Communications 

Phone: +41 (0)44 384 48 50 / mobile: +41 (0)79 580 04 84

E-mail: i.zimmermannnoSpam@swissmem.ch

Philippe Cordonier, Communications Manager, French-speaking Switzerland

Phone: +41 (0)21 613 35 85

Mobile: +41 (0)79 644 46 77

E-mail: p.cordoniernoSpam@swissmem.ch