The Swiss trade surplus narrowed to CHF 1.15 billion in August 2019 from a downwardly revised CHF 2.58 billion in the previous month. This was the smallest trade surplus since January last year, as exports fell while imports rose.
Exports dropped 4.3 percent from a month earlier to CHF 18.7 billion in August, due to lower sales of chemical and pharmaceutical products (-5.0 percent), jewellery (-9.8 percent), machinery and electronics (-5.1 percent); food, beverages and tobacco (-1.0 percent); and metals (-2.8 percent). Conversely, sales rose for watchmaking (1.7 percent); precision instruments (0.5 percent).
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Among major trade partners, exports declined to Germany (-13.6 percent), Italy (-4.6 percent), France (-4.3 percent), Belgium (-10.4 percent), Russia (-22.3 percent), the US (-2.2 percent), the Middle East (-8.0 percent), Hong Kong (-16.0 percent), and Singapore (-17.2 percent). Meanwhile, there were increases in exports to the UK (5.8 percent), the Netherlands (0.7 percent), Spain (0.4 percent), Austria (23.5 percent), Canada (1.9 percent), China (10.4 percent), and Japan (2.7 percent).
Imports increased 3.4 percent to CHF 17.6 billion, mainly due to higher purchases of chemical and pharmaceutical products (2.5 percent), vehicles (3.1 percent); jewellery (22.8 percent); and energy products (3.2 percent). On the other hand, imports dropped for: machinery and electronics (-1.9 percent); food, beverages and tobacco (-1.9 percent); metals (-3.0 percent), and textiles, clothing, footwear (-5.9 percent).
Among major trade partners, imports were up from Germany (0.8 percent), France (19.7 percent), Belgium (14.4 percent), Austria (25.3 percent), the UK (11.7 percent), Spain (0.8 percent), the Middle East (2.8 percent), China (8.7 percent), and the US (2.9 percent). Still, purchases decreased from Italy (-12.4 percent), the Netherlands (-7.1 percent), and Japan (-19.9 percent).
Considering the first eight months of the year, the trade surplus widened sharply to CHF 15.8 billion from CHF 11.1 billion in the same period of 2018.