GENEVA, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Swiss businesses in China on Tuesday reported optimistically on their prospects for the coming year after a record export year from the alpine country in 2017.
Swiss Centers China, a non-profit organization aimed at lowering market entry barriers of Swiss companies in Asia, said that China, including Hong Kong, represents the third biggest export market for Swiss products, behind Germany and the United States.
It released the results of a survey that found 72 percent of Swiss business leaders in China expect "higher" or "substantially higher" sales of goods from Switzerland to China in 2018 than in 2017.
"While Swiss exports in 2017 to key markets such as Germany, Italy and France did not yet rebound to their pre-crisis 2008 levels, exports to China grew by 66 percent from 2008 to 2017," said Swiss Centers China co-founder Nicolas Musy.
Last year Swiss exports to China reached a record 16.7 billion Swiss francs (17.9 billion U.S. dollars).
Just 5 percent of business leaders anticipated lower export figures this year, according to the preliminary results of the 2018 Swiss Business in China Survey, which were released by Swiss Centers China.
The association said full results from the survey of 108 Swiss and 440 Chinese business respondents will be published in March.
The survey shows that exports to China in 2017 represent an increase of 13.8 percent on the previous year, reaching a new record.
China bought 7.2 billion Swiss francs (7.7 billion U.S. dollars) worth of watches and precision instruments from the alpine nation in 2017, which makes China the largest world market for this category of Swiss products, said Swiss Centers China.
After watches and precision instruments, the most important export sectors from Switzerland to China in 2017 were pharmaceuticals and chemicals, which grew by 13 percent, as well as machinery, showing an increase of 12.8 percent.
China is by far the biggest Asian market for Swiss exports, with the volume of sales twice as high as to Japan and ten times higher than to India, said Swiss Centers China.