SWITZERLAND looks set for a huge economic boost after Britain leaves the European Union as the country looks to unshackle itself from dependence on Germany.
Despite not being a member of the EU, Switzerland is hugely dependent on exports from Germany, its largest trading partner.
Exports and imports account for about 80 per cent of the economic output, and after the Swiss people voted to withdraw from nuclear power earlier this year, the country has become even more reliant on coal and green electricity from their German neighbours.
Energy supply is just one example of the close links between the Swiss economy and the Eurozone.
Switzerland, which is home to only around 8.5million people, is Brussels’ third most important trading partner behind the US and China and is hoping to seize opportunities in the wake of Brexit.
High domestic prices often lead Swiss people to their European neighbours to spend, and there is an increasing number of people and businesses emigrating to Germany to take advantage of low labour costs, free trade areas and skilled workers.
The result of open borders and big price drops are felt on both sides of the border: cities in southern Switzerland are getting more and more empty, because butchers, bakers and shops are shutting down - in the north it is the people that run away. Nursing homes in the northern city of Baden are no longer able to occupy all beds because the skilled workers are emigrating. Beyond the Rhine, the wages paid by nursing homes pay are twice as high.
But Britain’s EU exit could turn the situation in Switzerland’s favour, thanks to an increased interest from companies based in Britain who now want to settle in Switzerland.
The international financial centre in Zurich is likely to benefit from the fact that banks, insurers and financial services providers fear losing free access to the EU's single market.
Business-minded Swiss citizens have secured almost unrestricted access to EU markets through an array of treaties with the EU and individual member states, b
Switzerland is a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), and took part in negotiating the European Economic Area (EEA) agreement with the EU, but rejected the chance to become a member state and officially withdrew its membership application last year.
As a result, the country has a huge number of agreements with the EU, including the free movement of people, trade barriers, and science, but is known as a refuge for the rich and Zurich is a hub for financial services.
With uncertainty surrounding the future of the City of London, UK-based companies are increasingly considering a move to Switzerland to ensure access to the single market without the red tape that EU members face.
Earlier this year, the EU ambassador to Switzerland, Michael Matthiessen, said EU-Swiss relations were currently in a “more positive phase” and that now could be a “window of opportunity” for the country.
He said: “In the middle of Brexit, with the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome and a worrying geopolitical situation, it's maybe a good moment for the EU and Switzerland to draw closer together.”
Switzerland’s finance minister Ueli Maurer has previously claimed the Britain can develop "very positively" outside the European Union. He expressed hopes that the two countries could work together to develop closer ties and appeared pleased about Britain’s vote to leave the bloc.
He told the FT: "The EU can no longer lose other countries, otherwise it will lose its stability."
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