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SMEs look to the new year with confidence – despite the ongoing pandemic

Credit Suisse and S-GE publish a study on the SME Export Outlook for the first half of 2021

The sentiment of exportoriented Swiss SMEs has recovered sharply from last year’s record low. Despite the ongoing pandemic, the majority of SMEs are anticipating a rise in exports in the first half of 2021. The outlook for the year as a whole is even more confident, as is clear from the latest survey on export sentiment conducted by Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE). The Credit Suisse Export Barometer has also improved strongly.

According to the latest S-GE survey conducted between mid-November and mid-December, export sentiment has bounced back to the level it was at prior to the outbreak of the pan-demic, and is also well above the growth threshold when viewed on a longterm basis. According to the survey results, looking forward to the first semester of 2021, 59% of SMEs anticipate rising exports, while 27% expect stagnation and 14% are bracing themselves for a further decline. For the year 2021 as a whole, perspectives are even more optimistic, as 72% of the surveyed SMEs expect a rise in exports. At the same time, the new year will continue to be dominated by the coronavirus crisis. For 71% of surveyed SMEs, the associated uncertainties remain the dominant theme. The majority of the survey participants are part of the manufacturing sector.

The Credit Suisse Export Barometer, which illustrates foreign demand for Swiss products, backs up this positive outlook. According to Credit Suisse, over the course of the last six months the prospects for Switzerland’s export industry have brightened tangibly following last year’s slump in confidence. Purchasing managers indices point to a significant improvement in sentiment in global manufacturing since the spring of 2020. This can be expected to support demand for Swiss exports over the coming semester.

Tiziana Hunziker, economist at Credit Suisse, commented: “Unlike the services sector, global manufacturing has largely been spared the fallout from the second wave of Covid-19. Export sentiment in the industrial sector is accordingly positive. The Export Barometer is therefore indicating an increase in exports over the next semester.”

Alberto Silini, Head of Consulting at Switzerland Global Enterprise, added: “At the end of 2020, exportoriented Swiss SMEs have returned to optimism. They have quite clearly learned from the experiences of the first wave and successfully adapted their business models in response. This once again testifies to the impressive ability of Swiss SMEs to adapt to changed circumstances. It remains to be seen whether their expectations will be met in light of further developments of the pandemic.”

Further information on the SME export outlook for the first half of 2021 can be found in the brochure.

The SME export outlook for the second half of 2021 will be published on July 1, 2021.