Trade and Market Information
Switzerland is member of the WTO, the OECD and the European Free Trade Association. It is also a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol, the Washington Convention, the Basel Convention, the Montreal Protocol and the 2001 International Coffee Agreement.
Switzerland has very strict import regulations, and although licences are not mandatory for trade, some products nevertheless require a licence. Quotas are even assigned to certain categories of goods, such as biotechnological agriculture. However, trade with European Union countries is highly liberalised.
Imported products should be presented to a Customs Office within the required time frame, which is determined according to the mode of transport used to transport the goods. Many companies use freight forwarders, which act as carriers and customs officers. In Switzerland, customs duties are generally 5.5%, although this value can change depending on the goods in question.
The distribution sector is dominated by supermarket and discount store brands. Manufacturing is a dynamic sector in Switzerland, with 76,000 companies. It represents 42% of Switzerland’s exports. The mechanical, electrical and metal sectors are also very important.
Employment Legislation in Switzerland
The maximum working week varies, depending on the type of employee: 45 hours/week for technicians and researchers, 50 hours/week for all other positions. Retirement age is 65, and there is no minimum wage in the country. Protective measures have however been introduced in order to avoid distorted competition. Social security contributions amounted to 5.05% for employers and for employees.
Unions exist in Switzerland but, unlike other countries, such as France, unions are not particularly influential. Negotiation tends to be preferred to strike action. However, 25% of all employees are union members.
Intellectual Property Regime in Switzerland
|Type of rights||Legislation||Validity of protection||Agreements signed|
|Patents||1954 Law on Patents for Inventions||20 years||– Patent Cooperation Treaty
– Strasbourg Agreement Concerning the International Patent Classification
|Brands||Trademark Protection Law||10 years, renewable||– Nice Agreement on the Classification of Goods and Services
– Madrid Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Marks
|Designs||Federal Design Protection Act||5 years, renewable up to 25 years|
|Copyright||Federal Copyright Law||50 to 70 years after the death of the author||– Berne Convention for the Protection of Literary and Artistic Works
– Rome Convention for the Protection of Performers
– WIPO Performances and Phonograms Treaty
– WIPO Copyright Treaty
– Convention for the Protection of Producers of Phonograms
|Industrial Designs||Federal statute on the Protection of Industrial Designs and Models||5 years, renewable up to 25 years|
Switzerland Political Data
Swiss Executive power is held by the Federal Council. The Council has seven members, elected by Parliament for a four year term. The Swiss President (currently Didier Burkhalter) is merely an honorary role; the position is occupied by one member of the Federal Council, and changes annually.
Legislative power is represented by Parliament, or the Federal Assembly, which consists of the Council of States (46 members appointed for four years), and the National Council of 200 members elected by universal suffrage, also for a four year term.
The dominant political parties are the Swiss People’s Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Christian Democratic People’s Party, and the Green Party.