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Swiss Boom in Clothing Exports deceptive

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A large increase in Swiss exports of clothing and shoes isn’t quite what it appears; export shipments of textiles and footwear rose 10 percent in 2016, second only to pharmaceuticals and chemicals. But that really reflects dissatisfied shoppers sending back their purchases.

Switzerland isn’t part of the European Union’s customs union, so online purchases made abroad or sent back are included in trade statistics. And there’s a 300 franc-per-day ($301) limit on people personally importing goods in to Switzerland across the border, so internet shopping makes sense.

One on-line retailer offers clients free shipping and returns; the company reported a 17 percent rise in revenue growth for the sales region of Germany, Austria and Switzerland in the first quarter.

Last year, returns accounted for almost 33% of the textile/shoe/clothing category’s exports, according to Switzerland’s Federal Customs Administration. In the three months to the end March, some 40 percent of the 962 million francs’ worth of exports were returns.