Switzerland. According to countryaah, nearly 60 percent of voters voted in a referendum in February for continued free movement of labor between Switzerland and the EU. The agreement was also extended to include the newest EU members Bulgaria and Romania. The anti-immigrant right-wing party SVP (Swiss People’s Party), the country’s largest party, campaigned hard on the proposal.
|Gross domestic product (GDP)||523,100,000,000 USD|
|GDP growth rate||1.70%|
|GDP per capita||$ 62,100|
|GDP by sector|
|Proportion of the population below the national poverty line||7.6%|
|Distribution of household income|
|Industrial production growth rate||2.10%|
|Investment volume||20.4% of GDP|
|National debt||41.80% of GDP|
|Foreign exchange reserves||$ 679,300,000,000|
|Number of visitors||9,158,000|
Following demands from US authorities and lengthy negotiations, an agreement was signed in August that gave the United States the right to review 4,450 US citizens’ secret bank accounts in the major bank UBS. The bank also agreed to pay US $ 780 million in remuneration to the US and thus escaped the legal process of assisting US taxpayers.
President Hans-Rudolf Merz caused a political crisis in August when he apologized to Libya’s government on his own behalf, something the government has so far refused. The reason was that the Libyan leader Muammar al-Khadaffi’s son and his wife a year earlier had been arrested and charged with mistreatment by two employees. The notification was withdrawn after compensation was paid to the victims of the abuse, but Libya reacted through, among other things, stripped oil deliveries and sanctions on Swiss companies. Despite the apology, in December two Swiss businessmen detained in Libya were sentenced to 16 months in prison for visa violations. The men, who were at the Swiss embassy in Tripoli, were reported to risk further punishment for other crimes.
Towards the end of the year, the world’s eyes were fixed on Switzerland as the country was the first in the world to ban the construction of minarets. The decision was taken in a referendum in which over 57 percent voted in favor of the proposal that SVP was behind, despite strong opposition from the government in general and from the business community. The UN condemned the ban, which put the government in a legally difficult situation as it was considered contrary to several international conventions to which Switzerland has acceded.