Will 2021 be the year of convalescence? Several scenarios point to a recovery, but they vary. The SNB is cautious about the Swiss economy where the IMF anticipates global GDP growth of 5.5% (against -3.5% in 2020). Between uncertainties, resilience and changes, most of the participants in the Horizon 2021 Forum organized by Time Tuesday, held a speech of hope: the pandemic generates opportunities.
The advent of digital and flexibility
“Looking back, 2020 will also be remembered as the year the world embraced digitization,” said Mark Schneider. The boss of Nestlé notes that, in the trade of fresh food products, so far little digitized, online sales have increased by 15 to 20%. “This trend is not going to be reversed,” he believes. Just like that of teleworking. ” Mark Schneider introduced the notion of “remote maintenance”, showing that technical visits, especially to dairy factories, were for the first time carried out remotely and that it worked. Companies will need to be flexible, and so will employees, according to Adecco’s director in Switzerland. The flexibility of Swiss companies also explains why the Swiss economy limited the damage last year, according to Thomas Jordan, head of the SNB.
The concept of resilience
The concept of resilience has been widely used because, more and more, we have to live with uncertainty. In general volatility, you have to be resilient, constantly working on several scenarios, investing, taking risks. Swiss companies, faced with the strength of the franc for several years, have been able to adapt, notes Thomas Jordan. “Resilience is a cost that we talk about when the weather is good,” said Mark Schneider. In case of bad weather, it’s useful. ” Resilience? A question of balance, there is no form, it carries a part of decentralization, according to him. Institutions, strong in Switzerland, generate resilience, according to Arturo Bris, professor at IMD. “A lot of companies got into debt for the first time,” says Maxime Botteron, economist at Credit Suisse. The question is how they will react, even if they are zero interest loans. “
Persistent global tensions
The issue of economic recovery is intimately linked to the success of immunization campaigns, according to most participants. “Companies must prepare for a return to growth, we do not know when but it will happen,” projects Simone Wyss Fedele, director of Switzerland Global Enterprise. According to our statistics, 70% of SMEs anticipate an increase in exports in the third quarter. ” In the meantime, exporters have to contend with sanitary restrictions that prevent travel and making contact with new customers. And take into account the Sino-American economic tensions which will not disappear with Joe Biden. “We cannot let Alibaba expand into the world and prevent Amazon from establishing itself in China,” said Martin Naville, director of the Swiss-United States Chamber of Commerce. China does not meet the condition of reciprocity necessary for negotiations. ”
Critical moment for the climate
“For the first time, the three great powers (United States, Europe and Asia) have made commitments on the climate going in the same direction”, underlines Mark Schneider. The multinational published in December a detailed plan of the actions it intends to take to achieve zero carbon emissions by 2050. “Joe Biden’s climate policy will offer many opportunities to companies in the cleantechs ”, adds Simone Wyss Fedele. Taking into account the climate risk is a necessity, affirms Thomas Jordan, who warns however that other risks will have to be considered in the future: “There will be other technologies, other shocks, other crises and we we will not be able to avoid them, ”he concludes.