Switzerland is the world’s most competitive economy for the seventh consecutive year according to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2015-16. 
It’s a diverse and mature economy with opportunities in all sectors.
Bilateral trade between the UK and Switzerland is worth over £31.9 billion a year.
The business links between Switzerland and the UK are extremely strong with more than 80 flights per day linking the UK with Switzerland.

Benefits for UK businesses exporting to Switzerland include :

  • favourable exchange rate
  • flight times under 2 hours
  • English widely spoken
  • multicultural market suitable for product testing
  • Europe’s highest per capita income
  • similar legal and regulatory environment

Strengths of the Swiss market include :

  • central location in Europe
  • political and financial stability
  • excellent public infrastructure
  • highly educated workforce
  • high productivity
  • innovative country with high spend on research and development (R&D) and technology
  • purchasing power amongst the world’s highest
  • reliable business, legal and regulatory environment
  • low Value Added Tax (VAT) compared to many European Union (EU) countries

Challenges of doing business in Switzerland :
Switzerland is not a member of the EU and is not likely to join in the foreseeable future. Relations are governed by a series of bilateral agreements. Protectionist measures remain in some areas. Agriculture and recruitment services are instances, which have recently affected British companies.

Doing business in Switzerland is very similar to doing business in the UK. If your product or service is successful in the UK, there’s a good chance you’ll be successful in Switzerland.

However, there are certain unique challenges when doing business in or with Switzerland. These include:

  • EU standards are not always adopted
  • domestic rules and regulations apply
  • highly regulated market 
  • difficult to ensure local legal compliance for certain industries and ‘posted workers’ (employee normally working in the UK, but temporarily working in Switzerland)
  • slow decision-making because of the need for consensus and a reluctance to take risks
  • Swiss consumers places a premium on quality

Start-up considerations :
There are many ways to develop your business in Switzerland. These include:

  • setting up a local office
  • working with international distributors or agents
  • working with wholesalers acting as importers
  • using trading companies that operate, for example, networks of bonded warehouses
  • using direct sales thorough direct marketing, mail order, telemarketing or the most popular forms teleshopping and internet sales

The main forms of business entity available in Switzerland are:

  • corporation
  • limited liability company
  • general partnership
  • simple partnership
  • cooperative

Instead of incorporating a company in Switzerland a business can be operated through a branch of a foreign company. The legal form of a ‘trust’ doesn’t exist in Swiss civil law.
Setting up a business in Switzerland requires the support of banks, consulting firms, trustees and attorneys specialising in company law.

Appointing an agent has several advantages including:

  • having a better understanding of the market
  • knowing its rules and regulations
  • representing you in your absence

You should check contracts carefully as agents can work for several companies.
Franchising in Switzerland is not very profitable due to limited market size and high operational costs.



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