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Sitting between the Alps and Jura mountain ranges, in the heart of Europe, Switzerland is a geographically small (roughly 41,300 square kilometers), but economically powerful country. Bordering on France in the west, Germany in the north, Austria in the east and Italy in the south, it never takes more than a couple of hundreds of kilometers to be abroad in this landlocked country. Three major international airports (Zurich, Geneva, and Basel) and a large number of international highways and train lines connect Switzerland to all of Europe and the world.
Switzerland draws its economic strength and competitiveness from a number of factors, including a stable, well-functioning political, an excellent education system (both academic and vocational training), an open and liberal economic environment, stable and reliable legal institutions, excellent and reliable infrastructure, and a high degree of pragmatism and efficiency, to mention but a few. Japan and Switzerland share many core values like freedom, democracy, and constitutional legality, but also modesty, diligence, endurance, accuracy, punctuality or cleanliness. Even with Switzerland’s openness, Swiss people maintain a strong sense of independence and sovereignty: A very high degree of direct democratic decisions is being taken by the people on a regular basis, and despite strong and good economic relationships with the European Union, Switzerland is not a EU member country and maintains its own currency.
If one compares such Japanese and Swiss values, as well as the quality of education, innovation, technical perfection and the like common to both countries, it comes as no surprise that – despite their geographic distance – Japan and Switzerland have maintained good and strong relationships over many years and have become mutually important and reliable trade partners.
Japanese foreign direct investments (FDI) into Switzerland continues to grow and in 2018 has reached a level CHF 27.61bn measured based on ultimate beneficial owner, of which CHF 3.08bn are capital stock immediately held by Japanese investors, which represents ca. 2.13% (0.23%) of total FDI in Switzerland (with the European Union and the US already contributing more than 90% of total FDI into Switzerland). Japanese FDI in Switzerland represents about 0.9% of Japanese yearly outbound FDI flows for 2018.
A mature and stable economy, Switzerland, is predicted to grow moderately at ca. 1.7% in 2020, with a continuous growth at 1.2% projected for 2021 and a further optimistic growth outlook going forward. Switzerland has one of the highest GDP per capita in the world and boasts one of the highest life satisfactions (significantly above the OECD life satisfaction index average). Switzerland is one of the leading innovative countries in several industries: Pharma & Life Science, Fintech as well as high precision industries such as the Machine and Watch Industry. Many family-owned high-tech businesses are looking for meaningful international collaboration partners. As a small country with a wealthy population, strong institutions and thriving financial sector, Switzerland is one of the world’s leading financial centres and home to some of the world’s most important banks. The Canton of Zug, also known as “Crypto Valley”, is now a breeding ground for cryptocurrencies and blockchain technologies. Zug is thriving to become the global capital of cryptocurrencies and fintech, and is building up a steadfast position as the world’s leading blockchain ecosystem.
Switzerland also boasts the lowest added value tax in Europe at 7.7%, as well as very moderate corporate and individual income taxes. Swiss Tax Reform, effective as from January 1, 2020, led to a bundle of further tax rate reductions and the introductions of attractive R&D incentives such a patent box and R&D superdeduction. With its newly reformed tax system, Switzerland is fully in line with the latest international tax principles, leading to one of the most attractive economic and tax environments in the world. Consequently, Switzerland has a very unique and tight-knit business and regulatory environment, in which PwC can help chart your course. With over 3,200 employees at 15 office locations concentrated in such a small territory, PwC is the largest professional services firm in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, and it is also one of the most multi-lingual PwC firms in the global network, with employees from more than 70 countries, including from Japan. PwC Switzerland serves more than 50 important Japanese companies, and since 2009 have set up a special Japan Desk which specializes in international tax, in addition to a wide range of business advisory services, for Japanese investors.
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Senior Associate Tax
Senior Associate Tax