Liechtenstein exports a large amount of goods and services. The small domestic market means that most companies soon look abroad in order to develop export ties. The government has signed a range of agreements in order to create the best possible environment for an export-driven economy.
Liechtenstein is a member of the European Economic Area (EEA) and forms part of a customs union with Switzerland. This means that its businesses have direct access to the markets in the EEA and Switzerland as well as to the domestic market in Liechtenstein. The Principality's membership of the EFTA means that enterprises based in Liechtenstein benefit from one of the largest networks of free-trade agreements in the world.
Companies in Liechtenstein are provided with comprehensive support in order to simplify and facilitate export activities on the international market. An agreement has been signed between Switzerland Global Entreprise (S-GE, formerly OSEC) and the government in Liechtenstein in order to provide domestic companies with advice and support on export-related matters. Services provided by S-GE include:
Export-oriented and innovative companies are important for Liechtenstein's economy. Therefore, in collaboration with the Amt für Volkswirtschaft, the government regularly awards a limited number of "innovation and export cheques". SMEs based in Liechtenstein can use these to purchase custom-made R&D services from research institutions such as universities of applied sciences, universities and other research facilities not related to universities. The aim is to strengthen Liechtenstein's export environment in the long term by making it easier for SMEs to start trading with foreign companies. SMEs can discuss their export plans with experts from the S-GE and receive advice on doing business with specific countries. The online tool Fit4Export is also used to analyse the companies' export potential.
In an interview with Christian Hausmann, Head of the Liechtenstein Office for Economic Affairs, explains what Liechtenstein is hoping the export cheques will achieve. In addition, Joseph Schweiger, proprietor and founder of Unigraphica AG and Philipp Quaderer, CEO of SPM AG, Schaan are interviewed about their experiences with Liechtenstein export cheques. Magnus Tuor, Chairman of the Liechteinstein Commercial Industry Association (Gewerbliche Industrie Liechtenstein "GIL") and CEO Messtechnik AG, Triesen also reports on his experiences in this field.
Liechtenstein SMEs, i.e. companies with fewer than 250 employees, are entitled to apply for export cheques. The government has earmarked a total of CHF 300,000.00 to provide support in the form of export cheques. Liechtenstein does not actively promote business activities. Instead, it endeavours to create a business-friendly environment. As in the case of the cheques, this is designed to encourage companies to establish strategic niches in which they can secure international business success. Further information about export cheques is available on the National Public Administration website.