Content - Switzerland and Japan

Economic Relations

Japan is Switzerland’s 6th largest export market. Despite the strong Swiss franc, Swiss exports to Japan were robust last year. They surged 13.9%, led by pharmaceutical products, the biggest Swiss export item to Japan. Also, Switzerland is the 6 th largest foreign investor in Japan at the end of 2016.

In the area of international tax matters, Switzerland and Japan signed a joint declaration on the introduction of the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI) in January 2016. The two countries have been collecting data since 1 January 2017. The data will be exchanged for the first time in 2018.

Swiss Trade with Japan

According to the Federal Customs Administration, Japan is the 6 th largest export market for Switzerland in 2016 (after the EU, the US, China, Hong Kong and India) 14 . 2.5% of the total exports of Switzerland go to Japan. In the face of the strong franc, Swiss exports to Japan performed well. They surged 13.9% to 7,511 million CHF, following a modest 3.1% rise marked in 2015. Swiss imports from Japan were also robust (up 13.5% to 3,954 million CHF), after contracting for three years in a row. As a result, Switzerland’s trade surplus with Japan expanded to 3,557 million CHF, compared with a 3,109 million CHF surplus marked in 2015.

By products, pharmaceutical products, the biggest export item of Switzerland to Japan, surged by 30.1%. This item now accounts for 40% of the total Swiss exports to Japan. Exports of watches fell by 3.3% but maintained the second spot with a share of 16.8%. Once-buoyant demand from foreign, namely Chinese, tourists has started to wane but the slide in Japan was smaller than the 9.9% drop marked for total Swiss watch exports. Exports of precious metals (up 22.4%), medical devices (up 7.4%) and chemicals (up 11.7%) saw a solid growth. In the meantime, the double-digit rise in overall imports was led by a surge in imports of precious metals, the biggest import item. They rose 41.2%, accounting for 34.3% of the total. The imports of vehicles, mainly automobiles, rose 4.8%, such that vehicles remain the second biggest import item with a share of 17.0%. Imports of medical devices also enjoyed a solid growth (up 7.1%). But the performance of other major import items was rather poor. Imports of pharmaceuticals and chemicals shrank 1.5% and 11.2%, respectively. 

According to Japan’s balance of payment statistics, Japan’s service exports to Switzerland increased 10.1% to 396.6 billion yen (3.5 billion CHF) in 2016. However, as the pace of service imports from Switzerland exceeded that for service exports (such imports surged 24.5%), Japan ran a 25.2 billion yen (221 million CHF) deficit on service trade against Switzerland in 2016, compared with a 21.3 billion yen (186.8 million CHF) surplus it saw in the previous year.

Major Investments

According to the data of the MoF and the BoJ, Switzerland is the sixth largest foreign investor at 1,294 billion yen (11.3 billion CHF) in 2016, making up 4.6% of all FDI stock. Switzerland maintains this position since 2013. The breakdown by industry shows that Swiss FDI in the manufacturing sector amounts to about 540 billion yen (4.7 billion CHF), while about 680 billion yen (5.9 billion CHF) is invested in the non-manufacturing sector. Chemicals and pharmaceuticals accounted for the lion’s share of Swiss FDI stock in manufacturing in Japan, amounting to 487 billion yen (4.3 billion CHF) in 2016. As for non-manufacturing, Swiss companies have invested about 400 billion yen (3.5 billion CFH) in wholesale and retail industries by the end of 2016, and 223 billion yen (1.9 billion CHF) in finance and insurance industries.

All above information is based on the "Japan: Economic Report 2017" document.
Detailed information on the recent economic relations between Switzerland and Japan can be found here.

Long Relations

Switzerland sent its first trade delegation to Japan in 1863. It was headed by Aimé Humbert, a representative of the Swiss watch industry. This visit led to the conclusion of a trade and friendship treaty between the two countries in 1864.  

An agreement on free trade and economic partnership between the two countries came into effect on September 1, 2009. All details can be found here.

Our Sponsors