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Swiss watch exports decline 9.3% to 1.9b Swiss francs

Swiss watch exports decline 9.3% to 1.9b Swiss francs

BERN: Switzerland’s watch industry has been struggling in China since 2012, when the country began a crackdown on extravagant spending among government officials.

Switzerland’s watch industry has been struggling in China since 2012, when the country began a crackdown on extravagant spending among government officials. Photographer: Xaume Olleros/Bloomberg

Swiss watch exports slid the most in more than five years in July amid plunging shipments to Asia as Chinese tourists stayed away from Hong Kong and avoided South Korea following the outbreak of a deadly virus.

Exports fell 9.3 percent to 1.9 billion Swiss francs ($2 billion), the steepest monthly decline since November 2009, according to figures released Thursday by the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry. Sales to China tumbled 40 percent, compared with a 49 percent increase in July 2014. Shipments were down 20 percent to South Korea and 29 percent to Hong Kong, offset partly by higher exports to Europe.

“The China export number may be shocking on first glance, but it needs to be compared to the extremely high exports of last year,” said Rene Weber, an analyst at Bank Vontobel AG in Zurich. “Chinese tourists traveled to Europe to buy more Swiss watches, so it shows the strength of tourism in Europe.”