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As of January 12, 2009 all Swiss citizens (regardless of the passport that will be used) intending to travel to the USA by air or sea under the VWP are required to obtain an electronic travel authorization prior to boarding a carrier.
This authorization can be obtained through their website. Follow the link on the right.
Please make sure to apply early (at least 72 hours prior to travel). ESTA is initially only available in English and will be accessible via Internet beginning August 1, 2008.
If the application is not authorized by ESTA, the person must apply for a nonimmigrant visa at the U.S. Embassy in Kuala Lumpur before travelling to the U.S.
If the authorization is pending the applicant needs to check the ESTA website for updates within 72 hours to receive a final response.
As of July 1st, 2009, the provisional Swiss passport is no longer accepted for entering or travelling through the USA.
Switzerland overtakes the United States this year as the world’s most competitive economy. This is explained by the fact that Switzerland’s performance has remained relatively stable, whereas the United States has seen a weakening across a number of areas.
Switzerland’s economy continues to be characterized by an excellent capacity for innovation and a very sophisticated business culture, ranked 3rd for its business sophistication and 2nd for its innovation capacity. The country is characterized by high spending on R&D. Switzerland’s scientific research institutions are among the world’s best, and the strong collaboration between the academic and business sectors ensures that much of this research is translated into marketable products and processes, reinforced by strong intellectual property protection. This strong innovative capacity is captured by the high rate of patenting (148.27 per million inhabitants) in the country, for which Switzerland ranks 7th worldwide on a per capita basis.
Switzerland’s public institutions are rated among the most effective and transparent in the world (7th), ensuring a level playing field and enhancing business confidence; these include an independent judiciary, a strong rule of law, and a highly accountable public sector. Competitiveness is also buttressed by excellent infrastructure (5th) and a well-functioning goods market (5th), as well as a labor market that is among the most efficient in the world (2nd, just behind Singapore). And Switzerland’s macroeconomic environment, although weakening somewhat since last year, continues to be assessed as stable compared in particular with the United States and many European neighbors (ranked 17th).
On the other hand, the university enrollment rate of 47 percent continues to lag behind many other high-innovation countries, placing the country 46th on this indicator. Although gaps are currently being filled through immigration, efforts should be made to boost higher education attainment to ensure sufficient national talent. Financial markets have also weakened somewhat, reflecting in particular difficulties in the national banking sector. However, this has been muted compared with many other countries.
Kuala Lumpur, 16 September 2009
The summer report released by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) confirms the worsening of the world economic outlook for 2009, compared to the forecast in March 2009. A group of experts monitoring the economic situation expects a contraction of 2.7% of the gross domestic product (GDP) of Switzerland in 2009. This shrinking should continue in 2010 - the forecast is from now on of -0.4% for the GDP in 2010 – despite faint signs of a recovery. In this context, the unemployment rate should continue to strongly increase until 2010.
World economy: The recession was accentuated in the 1st quarter and prolonged in spring 2009. However for a few weeks (April/May), an increased number of indices gave hope for an end of the downward spiral. But finally these elements were only indicating a deceleration of the recession and not the resumption of the growth.
On the international financial markets, the situation shows signs of stabilization since April 2009 due to the influence of the economic support measures taken in the whole world. Since March, the Swiss Franc slightly weakened compared to the Euro.
GDP of Switzerland: During the 1st quarter 2009, the real GDP of Switzerland decreased by 0.8% compared to the previous quarters and 2.4% compared to the corresponding quarter of the previous year.
Production in Switzerland: In the 1st quarter, the growth of the industry and the finance sector slowed down again, whereas the interior market of the services still had a slight supporting effect.
External Trade: The global slowdown at the beginning of 2009 has strongly hit the Swiss exports. All exports continued to contract massively (-5.4% compared to the last quarter 2008) during the 1st three months of 2009. This fall without precedent drew Swiss exports to the level of 2006. With -6.6%, exports of goods once again dropped more than the exports of services. Considering the situation by sector, one observes a pronounced fall in metallurgical and machines industry as well as in the watches, textiles and paper sectors. On the other hand, the area of the medical technology records positive growth rates in comparison with the previous year. In the exports of services, the tourism sector is still doing relatively well (- 0.1%) while the other services dropped by -2.9%.
Outlook: The worldwide economy shows signs of a deceleration of the recession, but the recovery could be modest in 2010. Although the risk of the downward spiral appears weaker than a few months ago, a relatively large uncertainty exists regarding the recovery awaited for 2010 and beyond.
Detailed report under: www.seco.admin.ch - Konjunkturtendenzen Sommer 2009
Kuala Lumpur, 15 September 2009