A microcosm of Switzerland’s advantages

The Vaud economy is the most important in western Switzerland and the third-biggest in Switzerland after Zurich and Berne. Vaud is also the largest and most heavily populated canton in western Switzerland (population: 650,000, of whom 28% are non-Swiss).

There are 36,000 companies employing 316,000 people, of whom almost 75% work in services, in the local economy. Thus Vaud boasts what is principally a knowledge-based economy (health care, banking, finance, insurance, advisory services, education and research, consulting, etc.).

Industrial activity in the canton de Vaud is also based largely on knowledge and sectors offering high value added: microtechnology, watchmaking, medical engineering, biotechnology, information and communication technology, and so on.

Most of the companies can be categorised as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), highly specialised and extremely flexible. Yet the canton also plays host to several head offices and branches of local (including Nestlé and Logitech) and foreign multinationals.

The unemployment rate (2006) in the canton of Vaud averages around 5% (EU: 8.5%). Switzerland has one of the lowest rates of inflation in Europe (0.5%), which ensures tremendous stability in purchasing power and beneficial interest rates.

Vaud’s economy is largely open to the world: 20% of its industrial output is exported, mainly to Europe. In this regard, the canton of Vaud benefits from bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the European Union guaranteeing access to European markets and the free movement of people.

Indeed, the fact that Switzerland is not a member of the European Union is not a disadvantage in the slightest. A recent survey of top managers of foreign companies established in Switzerland shows 37% of them believe this to be an advantage, 35% think that it is neither an advantage of disadvantage, and even 15% are convinced that this represents a significant advantage!

Companies are not heavily taxed in the canton of Vaud and the authorities offer tax breaks or tax holidays for enterprises being established. In terms of personal taxation, Vaud applies the lowest rates in western Switzerland.

Finally, this is all underpinned by Switzerland’s liberal economic system and the stability of its institutions, which provides a high level of security for all commercial activities.

All of these factors help to make the canton of Vaud a top-drawer site for setting up companies in Europe and the world.


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