The most competitive economy in the world!

In 2010, the annual report of the World Economic Forum (Global Competitiveness Report 2010-2011) named Switzerland the most competitive economy in the world. Indeed, Switzerland and the canton of Vaud enjoy an economic environment that combines stability and dynamism to provide a beneficial stage for the development of business.

Switzerland recorded GDP growth of more than 3% in 2006, compared with 2.8% in the European Union.

Switzerland boasts the highest per capita income and purchasing power in the world. At the same time, it has the lowest rates of unemployment (3.6%), inflation (0.5%) and interest in Europe.

Other factors boosting competitiveness include social welfare and fiscal charges that are among the lowest in Europe, coupled with productivity levels and working hours that are among the highest in the industrialised world (the working week averages 42.5 hours). What’s more, Switzerland has one of the highest levels of spending on research and education per capita, and the highest number of patents in the world.

Consequently, it should come as no great surprise that numerous multinational companies have chosen to set up shop in Switzerland, including a hundred or so in the canton of Vaud, such as Cisco, Logitech, Philip Morris, Nestlé and Medtronic.

Switzerland and the canton of Vaud have an economy that is largely open to the world and Europe. Exports make up almost one third of Switzerland’s gross domestic product (GDP), and 20% of output in the canton of Vaud.

Europe is the principal trading partner, receiving 66% of Vaud’s exports. Although Switzerland is not a member of the European Union, it has concluded bilateral accords with the EU guaranteeing access to European markets while retaining the independence of its own legal tender, the Swiss franc.

Vaud’s economy is based heavily on services offering high value added (health care, finance, insurance, consulting, education and research, and so on). Services make up almost 80% of all employment. But Vaud also has frontline industrial activities, notably in the fields of micromechanics, electronics, watchmaking, medical engineering, information technology and biotechnology.

The infrastructure and services, notably financial, required for business to thrive are well developed in the canton of Vaud. In addition to plenty of land with commercial and industrial premises, the canton has several technical parks and business incubators, as well as a World Trade Centre in Lausanne.

The Vaud authorities actively support economic development and the establishment of new companies in cutting edge industries. The canton administration provides assistance with acquiring land or premises and offers tax breaks and other support for business start-ups.

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The canton of Vaud in 2015
Basic data about geography, history, economy and institutions