Western Switzerland asserts its vocation as a great economic centre (more than 570 multinational companies in Geneva alone) and offers a unique know-how that is recognised worldwide.
Even if it is not part of the European Union (EU), the numerous political and economic agreements passed with the members of the EU assure Switzerland of an opening to the markets, thanks to bilateral agreements, in particular the agreements pertaining to the free circulation of persons and the technical obstacles to business. In 2003, it ranked fifth in Europe for import per inhabitant, and fifth in the European ranking for export per inhabitant.
These permanent exchanges with the exterior, as well as technological progress, constantly developing communications, international experience (notably of senior managers), flexibility of companies - all these are pillars of prosperity that characterise Western Switzerland. Inflation is lower than in Europe or the United States, whereas investments are growing regularly. At 3.6%, the unemployment rate is one of the lowest in Europe.
Year after year, international surveys position Switzerland among the first in matters of:
- education: 3rd place concerning the quality of the educational system, 1st place, in percentage of the population having at least a secondary educational level and 3rd place, in percentage of the population with at least a tertiary educational level (International comparisons 2005/2006),
- lack of corruption: 2nd rank for an indication of corruption concerning companies of exporting countries and 7th place for an indication of perception of corruption in public administration (in 2005),
- productivity: 33rd in a world ranking, GDP growth rate of 3.5% in 2006, ahead of Europe,
- particular competencies: precision industry, micro-technology, biotechnology, watch-making, banking, insurance, qualified manpower, etc.
Working time (1,832 hours per year, 3rd place after Singapore and the United States) and social expenditures (9.6% of social dues paid by the employer, or 4th place if compared internationally) positively influence productivity. Moreover, fiscal and legal aspects represent a clear and long-lasting advantage for companies that settle down in Western Switzerland. Thus Switzerland is a land of choice for enterprises and holds the first place as the most valued destinations for European companies that choose to relocate their headquarters, with a score of 57%.
The Swiss quality label for enterprises holds in five key words:
- work (productive)
- products (precise, long-lasting)
- services (“client-oriented” and up-market)
- infrastructure (efficient, solid)
- fine living standards (beauty of the country, vast choice of culture and leisure, schools of high standards and security for families)