To boost exports, it is important to know one's own strengths, the right partners and markets. Liechtenstein businesses are supported here by the government's export cheques. This enables strategies and networks to stimulate exports.
The domestic market is small. For this reason, Liechtenstein's small and medium-sized enterprises have always focused on markets around the world. Listemann, a metal refining company based in Eschen, shows the way: High-tech welding and hardening processes have made Listemann a European leader. The company is now successfully establishing itself in Turkey with the support of the Liechtenstein Office for Economic Affairs (Amt für Volkswirtschaft "AVW)" and consultancy services.
"The cheques are designed above all to provide incentives to work together with experts," says Christian Hausmann, Head of the AVW. These enable companies to recoup services or costs worth CHF 7,500.00. This reduces hurdles when it comes to cooperating with experts from the official Swiss and Liechtenstein export promotion agency, Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE). Formally known as Osec, this brings companies together with key players abroad, advises them on their export plans, or commissions market analyses. The aim is to build up or to expand export activities strategically.
Export cheques have been a proven instrument since 2008, when they were first used in response to the global economic crisis. 20 export cheques were issued in 2015, twice as many as in the year before. The strong Swiss franc is also creating new challenges for Liechtenstein companies the aim is to master these by focusing on important international business activities. And it works. Feedback, according to Hausmann, has been very positive. The full contingent of export cheques has always been issued each year. Companies who use the cheque, for example, to take part in trade fairs report that they have been able to acquire new customers and healthy sales, says Christian Hausmann.
The Schaan-based company SPM, which specialises in services and components for the semiconductor industry, made good use of the export cheques. At the international semiconductor trade fair Semicon in Dresden, SPM's CEO Philipp Quaderer and his team were able to present in-house products to a specialist audience. And this was just the start of a cooperation with S-GE.
The support often makes it possible to take part in trade fairs in far-away countries in India, for example. The packaging paint specialist Schekolin from Bendern took part in the international trade fair Packtech India with the support of S-GE and a Liechtenstein export cheque. The objective: to get to know customers better, and to obtain a direct understanding of the local market. This was indeed successful, says Lorenz Kühne, Sales Manager at Schekolin AG: "S-GE thoroughly prepared for the trade fair, from A to Z."
The paper processor Unigraphica from Ruggell made it all the way to South America. In Lima, the company took part in an international conference for security printing. Unigraphica's founder Joseph Schweiger says: "We were able to make new contacts and to submit a number of offers that have a genuine chance of turning into orders." A trade fair visit that would not have taken place without export cheques. Would he also advise other companies to consider export cheques? "Certainly, insofar as the companies are looking for international business," says Schweiger.
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.