Russia-Ukraine crisis: Switzerland bans export of luxury goods to Russia

Switzerland has banned the exportation of luxury goods and pricey timepieces to Russia. This action does not come as a surprise as most of the international community have met Russia’s invasion of Ukraine with economic sanctions.

Switzerland is the home of many of the top watch brands and home to brands like Swatch Group and Richemont, Rolex. This move however shows that Switzerland has abandoned its neutral stance on the invasion.

The exportation ban of luxury watches to Russia however would not have a serious effect on Switzerland as according to Bloomberg, sales to Russia and to Russians abroad account for less than 2% of overall revenue at Swatch Group and less than 3% at Richemont.

Russia was the 17th-biggest export market for Swiss watches in 2021, accounting for 260 million francs ($278 million) of shipments, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.
In addition to the ban, there is the issue of the amount of money Russians have in Switzerland banks. Switzerland has always been very attractive for the wealthy Russians and rich people all over the world, especially for its discretion.
While there is no exact figure on how much wealthy Russians have saved up in Switzerland bank accounts, Bloomberg reports that Basel-based Bank for International Settlements show that Russian residents and companies held $11 billion in Swiss bank accounts as of September 2021.
The amount doesn’t include brokerage accounts, investments or assets held through offshore companies and it is already more than twice the $5 billion Russians have in the United Kingdom.

Switzerland is taking the light approach on its enforcement of the European Union sanctions against Russia. The Switzerland government made the decision to implement the European Union sanctions after it was criticized by politicians in opposition to the government in power. It is still unclear exactly how much of Russian assets in the country is being frozen.

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