Global IT Readiness : Country of Switzerland


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An Overview of Switzerland





Switzerland, by all accounts one of the most prosperous and stable market economies in the world, has a gross domestic product (GDP) per capita of $27,100, roughly one-fifth higher than the average of the large Western European countries. Its per capita income remains the highest in Europe, even after a decade of comparative stagnation in the 1990s. Switzerland is traditionally considered a safe haven for foreign investors, because it has maintained political neutrality, an elaborate banking system with a high degree of bank secrecy, and it has maintained its currency's value through the instabilities of surrounding Europe's wars and crises. Switzerland is pursuing European Union (EU) membership only in the long run—over a ten-year period—because of the widely-held suspicions of many Swiss that effective involvement with the rest of Europe could jeopardize their unique economic stability. Yet the EU is by far its largest trading partner and Switzerland has signed several agreements to liberalize trade ties with the union. Switzerland has also brought its economy largely into conformity with EU regulations to improve its international competitiveness.Swiss industries, notably engineering and machinery, electronics, metals, chemicals, and pharmaceuticals, are renowned for their precision and quality and contribute to more than half of the country's export revenues. In agriculture, Switzerland is self-sufficient for almost two-thirds of its food and exports several world-famous delicacies, yet it also imports about $6 billion worth of agricultural commodities annually. Its mostly small-scale farmers are among the most highly protected and subsidized producers in the world. Tourism, banking, and insurance are traditionally leading sectors in the economy. Swiss trading companies have good expertise in many parts of the world, such as eastern Europe, the Far East, Africa, and the Middle East. Switzerland has a well-developed tourist infrastructure and the Swiss themselves are keen travelers. The country is the seat of many international inter-governmental and private organizations, from the United Nations (UN) and its associated organizations, to CERN, the European Laboratory for Particle Physics (which gave birth to the World Wide Web), to the International Red Cross, and is also host to numerous multinational corporations.


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