Switzerland – Its Changing Economy

QUESTION: Dear Mr. Armstrong,

You very recently pointed out that Switzerland is a country to avoid if it comes to foreign “Tax Refugees”. Because it signed, like many other countries, the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) agreement.

But how do you rank Switzerland as a country to live in permanently? I mean living there with a permanent permit or Swiss passport? There are quite a lot of foreign people, especially Europeans, who live and work there. They have the option to stay permanently there or return after a while to Germany for instance. To me, it is very attractive that Switzerland is not part of the EU, but maybe I’m overlooking something.

Kind regards,


ANSWER: As far as a place to live, Switzerland is safe, albeit expensive. The Swiss economy was built on its banking expertise and security. That is now gone in the age of hunting cash globally. Consequently, the economy of Switzerland lost its primary competitive advantage economically. Now it must develop industries that are competitive globally. It needs more than chocolate and Rolex watches.

Of the three main sectors, the tertiary sector is the most important for the Swiss economy. It includes banking, insurance, and tourism, employing more than 75% of Switzerland’s workforce. Over a fifth of the working population makes up the secondary sector, i.e. industry, trade, and crafts. The machine, metal, watch, and textile industries play a significant role, as do the chemical and pharmaceutical industries, which rely heavily on imports and exports. By far, banking was a major sector at the top of the list.

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