Economic and Commercial Affairs Section/Swiss Business Hub India

The Economic and Commercial Affairs Division of the Swiss Embassy, headed by Economic Counsellor Ms. Brigitte Bruhin, aims to promote and intensify the bilateral economic relations between Switzerland and India.

Over the years, economic relations between Switzerland and India have become more and more comprehensive; rapidly evolving into a full-fledged partnership between two countries which are unequal in terms of size and economic structure but share a common commitment to actively take part in the globalizing world. Today, India is a priority country in the framework of Switzerland's Foreign Economic Strategy.

Swiss Indian Bilateral Trade

The trade flows between Switzerland and India have grown significantly since 2003. The two-way trade expanded from Swiss Francs 1.24 billion in 2003 to more than 4.2 billion in 2011, registering a growth of nearly 250 percent. The expansion had been steady, with both sides’ trade achieving double-digit growth in most of those years. However, since 2012, the Swiss exports to India have been declining due to the appreciated Swiss Franc as well as economic slowdown in India. At the same time, growing Swiss imports from India have brought down the trade deficit, which has traditionally remained in favour of Switzerland.

The major items that Switzerland exported to India during 2013 were pharmaceuticals, machinery, transport equipment, precision instruments, chemical products, and watches. On the other hand, the main items imported by Switzerland from India were chemical products, textiles, pearls, jewellery and precious metal items, agricultural products, non-electrical machinery and metal products.

India remains an important emerging market for Swiss tourism. Indian tourists spent 467,967 overnights in Switzerland during 2013 (474,882 in 2012), a marginal decrease of 1.5 percent. Another area of bilateral trade in services, software and IT-enabled services continues to perform well. During the fiscal year 2011-12 (last available figure), the export of software and IT-enabled services from India to Switzerland was estimated to be more than USD 500 million.

Swiss Investments in India

There are around 250 joint ventures / wholly-owned subsidiaries of Swiss companies operating in India. In terms of industry-wise distribution of Swiss investments in India, the traditional sectors of Swiss excellence, e.g. engineering and industrial equipment, services (tourism, financial, logistics etc.), precision instruments, chemicals and pharmaceuticals continue to maintain top positions.

Switzerland remains amongst the top foreign investors in India. As per the cumulative FDI inflows data available for April 2000-March 2014, Switzerland is the 10th largest foreign investor, investing approximately USD 2.70 billion in diverse fields. As a large part of foreign direct investments in India, including investment from Switzerland, is routed through other countries, the actual Swiss direct investment in India is much higher. The actual Swiss direct investment inflows into India are estimated to be above USD 7 billion during the mentioned period.

Swiss companies operating in India are at present cautiously optimistic due to the prevailing subdued economic conditions, but at the same time are also confident about its excellent market potential in the medium to long-term. Sectors such as engineering, chemical products, consumer goods, food processing, financial services, energy including renewable energy, healthcare, and information technology related services continue to offer a lot of business opportunities.

Beginning of our trade relations

The commercial and trading relationship between India and Switzerland date back to the pre-independence days of India. It was as early as 1851 that a Swiss operation was established in India by the Volkart Brothers. This relationship got further reinforced when India and Switzerland signed the Treaty of Friendship on 14th August 1948, the first such treaty to be signed by independent India.

Furthermore, the various bilateral agreements, e.g. Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement, Promotion and Protection of Investments Agreement, and Agreement on Social Security, provide business-friendly environment for enterprises of both the countries.