Der Euro: Einfluss auf schweizerische Klein- und Mittelbetriebe

Hans Theiler, Director of the Swiss National Bank

University of Applied Sciences Aargau, Windisch, September 10, 1998, 10.09.1998

Switzerland is economically closely integrated in the future euro area: just over fifty percent of total exports go to euro countries, while seventy percent of all imports originate from these countries. So far, Swiss exporters have been able to balance their risks since the currencies of individual countries frequently showed diverging fluctuations. As, in future, all eleven countries will have a single currency, exporters are faced with a type of risk concentration. This holds true in particular for the so-called "KMU" - the small and medium-sized enterprises - , which operate from Switzerland, while large enterprises often have production sites in the euro area itself.

For small and medium exporters it is therefore of decisive importance whether the euro will be a strong or weak currency. Today, no-one doubts that the new currency will have a fairy-tale start. The test, however, will come later.

The euro will no doubt become part of life in Switzerland once euro banknotes are introduced in mid-2002. However, it will certainly not oust the Swiss franc. Exporters who occasionally state that they will be forced to pass the euro on to Swiss sub-suppliers - i.e. small and medium-sized enterprises - or to pay wages and salaries in euros obviously take it for granted that the euro will be a weak currency. If, on the other hand, the euro turns out to be a strong currency they have no reason to pass it on like a hot potato. Currently, however, there is no indication that the euro will be a weak currency.