Swiss exports rose in December with franc cap still in place

[ZURICH] Switzerland's exports hit a record high in 2014 after rising in December, a month before the Swiss central bank abandoned its cap on the franc, data showed on Tuesday.

Exports rose by a real 2.1 per cent year-on-year in December to 15.776 billion Swiss francs (US$17.01 billion). On a nominal basis, the increase was 7.2 per cent, the Customs Office said in a statement on Tuesday.

The 1.20-per-euro cap had protected the export-reliant economy from the effects of a strong currency since 2011. The safe-haven franc has soared since the policy was dropped on Jan. 15, however, potentially pulling the rug from under Swiss exporters, who send most of their goods to the euro zone.

The rise in the franc against the euro has prompted some economists to slash their growth predictions for Switzerland's export-driven economy and forecast a recession for 2015.

Swiss exports to the euro zone, which account for 43 per cent of the total, rose a nominal 7.0 per cent in December, and sales to North America grew 32.8 per cent, the Customs Office said.

Exports for 2014 rose 3.5 per cent, also in nominal terms, hitting a record 208.3 billion francs.

Chemical and pharmaceutical sales, the country's biggest export category, rose 12.4 per cent in nominal terms while watches fell by 2.5 per cent.

Overall, Switzerland ran a merchandise trade surplus of 1.515 billion Swiss francs in December, down from 3.795 billion francs in the previous month.



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