Economic policy in general
For our export-oriented industry, a high degree of international competitive capacity is an essential factor for success and is therefore a declared objective of Swiss Textiles. Competitive capacity can be supported through a consistently growth-oriented economic policy.
Swiss Textiles is calling for the introduction of mechanisms that support a free-market economy. A favourable economic environment, transparency and legal certainty are essential, especially for small and medium-sized companies. Over-regulation needs to be avoided in order to guarantee entrepreneurial autonomy.
Finance and taxation
The Swiss tax system is under international pressure. The goal of international acceptance is often confronted with the need to maintain tax competitiveness. Switzerland must not be allowed to lose its attractiveness as a business centre.
Sustainable growth is essential in order for the Swiss textiles and clothing industry to strengthen its position on the global market. Fluctuations of the economy, in particular the exchange rate, represent a threat to this growth. The companies operating in the Swiss textiles and clothing industry have done everything in their power during the past few years to enhance their competitive capacity thanks to efficiency increases and process and product innovations. However, the decision by the Swiss National Bank to abandon the minimum euro-Swiss franc exchange rate hit our industry hard (80 percent of products manufactured in Switzerland are exported, and with a proportion of 72 percent, the EU is by far the most important market). The Swiss franc has meanwhile appreciated considerably and is now at parity with the euro. This represents a 20-percent cost shock and an enormous burden for our companies.
Our members already faced tough competition when the exchange rate was 1.20. The decision to abandon the minimum exchange rate, coupled with the reactions of the currency markets, resulted in an enormous drop in export potential within the space of a few minutes. In the medium term, there is little likelihood that the euro will return to a level of around 1.20 or higher versus the Swiss franc. While the export figures in 2014 were positive, we have to anticipate a sharp drop for our industry in 2015. This is likely to result in declining sales and a fall in the employment rate.
In addition to efforts at the corporate level, Parliament and the Federal Administration will have to do everything in their power to ease the situation for the export industry. We are campaigning in favour of the dismantling of customs tariffs on the import of primary and semi-finished products, against further artificial increases in energy prices, and for pragmatic support from the federal government in the area of research and innovation. Finally, we expect the Swiss National Bank to keep its promise to remain active on the currency market in order to influence monetary conditions.