Switzerland - Country Commercial Guide
Selling to the Public Sector
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Selling to the Government

Switzerland is a party to the WTO Government Procurement Agreement (GPA), and deposited its instruments of acceptance of the 2014 revised GPA in December 2020. The revised GPA therefore entered into force in Switzerland as of January 1, 2021. U.S. companies can identify potential business opportunities via the Swiss government’s electronic platform simap, which publishes all government tenders within the GPA framework. Some areas are partly or fully exempted from the GPA, such as the management of drinking water, energy, transportation, telecommunication and defense. Swiss legislation about public procurement are governed by the Federal Act on Public Procurement.

The Swiss Federal Department of Defense is heavily reliant upon cooperation and expertise from foreign companies due to limited capacity within Switzerland. Procurement by armasuisse, a part of the Federal Department of Defense, Civil Protection and Sports, may involve offsets. Offset transactions are used to open up access to foreign markets for Swiss industry or to strengthen its position in these markets. Switzerland chose Lockheed Martin’s F-35A and Raytheon’s Patriot systems in July 2021 as the suppliers in its Air2030 program, with a total budget estimated at approximately $8 billion. 

U.S. companies bidding on government tenders may also qualify for U.S. Government advocacy. A unit of the U.S. Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, the Advocacy Center, coordinates U.S. Government interagency advocacy efforts on behalf of U.S. exporters bidding on public sector contracts with international governments and government agencies. The Advocacy Center works closely with our network of the U.S. Commercial Service worldwide and inter-agency partners to ensure that exporters of U.S. products and services have the best possible chance of winning government contracts. Advocacy assistance can take many forms but often involves the U.S. Embassy or other U.S. Government agencies expressing support for the U.S. bidders directly to the foreign government. Consult Advocacy for Foreign Government Contracts for additional information.

Financing of Projects

Transportation projects are mostly financed through public funds in Switzerland, but other large-scale projects in areas like real estate and energy are usually financed through special purpose vehicles – separate legal entities that act as off-balance-sheet subsidiaries of companies created for the project financing purposes. Prior to investing, authorizations, licenses or concessions may be required based on the investment in question. These are then granted by the appropriate federal or cantonal authority. Foreign investment may be restricted in sectors controlled by public monopolies, such as transportation or water supply.

Generally speaking, the government offers no special financing for projects in Switzerland. The federal government may grant long-term loans at preferential interest rates for a limited category of projects in designated regions – primarily in remote, mountainous areas that are threatened with economic decline. Cantonal and communal governments may offer a wider variety of incentives, including financing, for investments in their areas. Most cantons maintain economic development agencies, some with offices or representatives abroad, for the purpose of attracting projects and investments.