In 2021, exports from the Swiss life sciences sector (pharmaceuticals, vitamins and diagnostics) increased to a record CHF 109 billion (+9% over 2020). This accounted for 42% of the total Swiss exports. Especially strong was the growth of the immunologicals subsegment that includes many biotech products, with an export value of CHF 45.8 billion (+23.7%).
scienceindustries | Head Biotechnology
In the year 2020, almost all industry sectors suffered from historical export declines due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Only the chemical, pharmaceutical and life sciences industries managed a moderate gain over 2019 (CHF 1.8 billion, + 1.6%). In 2021, all sectors were up again, and total exports grew by CHF 34.2 billion (+15.2%) to CHF 259.5 billion. The biggest contribution to this increase came from chemical and pharmaceutical products (+CHF 14.4 billion), including those from the life sciences industries.
A quarter of the total Swiss export growth in 2021, CHF 8.8 billion, was derived from immunological products, whose importance has been steadily increasing over the years (see Figure 1). They comprise biotech products like monoclonal antibody therapeutics, and vaccines. In 2021, their impact was boosted by human vaccine exports of CHF 5.8 billion that also support the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
While exports from all other sectors taken together grew by 44.7% from 2001 to 2021, life sciences sector exports almost tripled (+293%) over these twenty years. In 2013, life sciences industry exports surpassed that of the longtime leading metals and machinery sector. They have further expanded their lead since then. The products of the innovative Swiss life sciences industry therefore are indispensable components of the strong Swiss export economy.