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Management Report

Financial year 2023

The Eastern Europe & Central Asia region accounted for the largest proportion of new commitments, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East & North Africa. A railway project in Kazakhstan was the most significant of these new commitments.

SERV issued new insurance policies worth CHF 2.641 billion for Swiss exporters in the 2023 financial year. The successful acquisition of new customers could not compensate for the decline in applications.

At CHF 2.641 billion, new commitment was lower than in the previous year (CHF 3.296 billion). The Eastern Europe & Central Asia region accounted for the largest proportion, followed by Sub-Saharan Africa and the Middle East & North Africa. SERV’s largest new commitment was for a railway project in Kazakhstan. Other countries with new commitment of more than CHF 100 million were Türkiye, Bangladesh, Benin (see sustainability case study), Egypt, Senegal, China, Iraq and the UK.

As usual, the figures for new commitments were heavily influenced by individual large projects. In the year under review, SERV insured various infrastructure projects in the railway and energy sectors. In the important textile sector, SERV again supported a number of export transactions in Benin, Egypt, Türkiye and Uzbekistan. SERV frequently supports the financing of major projects with buyer credit insurance.

Insurance policies for large projects in Russia and Brazil were terminated prematurely. As a result, premiums totalling approximately CHF 45 million were refunded. This meant that premium income for the year was lower than would have been expected in view of the newly insured large projects.

Insurance income of CHF 188.2 million includes interest income of CHF 17.6 million from debt rescheduling. Following the posting of loss expenses of CHF 96.9 million in the previous year, loss expenses were very high at CHF 222.3 million in 2023. SERV had to make significant provisions for losses and imminent losses in Ghana and Ethiopia. As such receivables can be rescheduled under multilateral agreements, SERV can expect to recover part of the indemnified amounts in the long term. Contrary to expectations, no significant loss expenses were incurred from insured transactions with Russia in 2023.

Premium income

in CHF million


New Commitment

in CHF bn



“Through our regional banking strategy, we want to ensure that more SMEs are informed about SERV’s support options.”


Chief Insurance Officer

Marketing & acquisition

SERV focused its acquisition efforts on two topics in 2023. The first focus was the implementation of the Pathfinding Strategy. By actively marketing in buyers’ markets, it gives Swiss exporters access to major international projects, particularly those in the infrastructure sector. In collaboration with SECO, Switzerland Global Enterprise (S-GE), Swissmem, Swissrail and, SERV forms part of the “Team Switzerland Infrastructure”, which jointly markets Swiss industry’s expertise in international infrastructure projects in buyers’ markets and the attractive financing opportunities opened up by SERV cover. The team’s activities during the year included accompanying Federal Councillor Parmelin on a visit to Brazil in July 2023. SERV was part of a large economic and scientific delegation led by the Federal Council.

In 2023, SERV insured three projects in Senegal, Benin and Ivory Coast via its Pathfinding Strategy, as a result of which, more than 30 exporters, for the most part SMEs, were awarded subcontracts. Several new projects are already in the pipeline for 2024.

The second focus was the development of the regional banking strategy. It is well known that banks are important multipliers in the export financing ecosystem and are able to put exporters in touch with SERV. Targeted training for corporate client advisors at Swiss banks is being employed to raise awareness of SERV products among SMEs. With regard to SME acquisition, 40 new customers were acquired in the year under review, 36 of which were SMEs.

Development of applications and new exposure

SERV approved 580 new applications in 2023, of which 451 were insurance policies (IPs) and 129 insurance commitments in principle (ICPs). The value of those 580 applications is significantly down on the figures achieved in the past. In the context of the gloomy outlook for the Swiss export economy, this decline is due to a general drop in demand for SERV insurance products. New exposure fell slightly from CHF 4.730 billion to CHF 4.432 billion. As ever, the volumes of insured transactions ranged widely, between CHF 75 500 and CHF 500 million. As is customary, the majority of transactions insured by SERV were for SMEs, which received around 80 per cent of the IPs. For ICP, demand for projects in Angola was high and SERV entered into an exposure of CHF 775 million there. The trend towards increased demand for buyer credit insurance with long credit periods, which was already evident in the previous year, continued in 2023. Three-quarters of the new exposure was for credit transactions with terms of more than two years.

Liquidity products are particularly important for SMEs. These include working capital insurance and counter guarantees. The number of working capital insurance policies issued rose from 47 to 56, while the number of counter guarantees issued remained stable at 159.


in CHF million, as at 31 December


in CHF million, as at 31 December


in CHF million, as at 31 December


in CHF million, as at 31 December


in CHF million, as at 31 December


in CHF million, as at 31 December


in CHF million, as at 31 December

Exposure & commitment portfolio

SERV’s exposure amounted to CHF 9.674 billion as at 31 December 2023, CHF 500 million lower than on the previous year’s balance sheet date. The commitment on the balance sheet date was CHF 7.892 billion, which was some CHF 423 million less than on the same date the previous year. The reduction in commitment was largely attributable to the early termination of two large buyer credit insurances in Russia and Brazil. The ICP portfolio decreased by CHF 77 million compared to the previous year to CHF 1.782 billion.

As in previous years, SERV’s highest exposure by country was to Türkiye, at CHF 1.335 billion. Angola has moved up to second place in the country list by exposure, and Kazakhstan now also ranks among the top 10 countries in terms of exposure due to a major project in the railway sector. Exposure to Russia continued to decline. Since the introduction of the sanctions adopted in 2022, SERV is no longer allowed to insure any new projects in the country, with very few exceptions. The remaining commitment amounts to CHF 389 million, a reduction of CHF 258 million compared to the previous year.

Public affairs and the national environment

Since its foundation, SERV has been committed to maintaining regular exchanges with interested business and industry associations and civil society organisations (NGOs). The Federal Council’s strategic objectives also require SERV to maintain this commitment. In fulfilling its legal mandate, SERV must take due account of the concerns of external stakeholders. Based on this mandate and the additional strategic decision to increase SERV’s public visibility, SERV began a strategic dialogue with stakeholders in 2023. These include associations and partner organisations, banks and insurance companies, civil society organisations (NGOs), parliament and the federal administration – including Swiss representations abroad.

The main objective of the meetings was to inform the dialogue partners about SERV’s mandate, range of services and working methods. The interest shown by the dialogue partners in SERV and in the concerns of the export industry was gratifying and, as a result, the public affairs activities will be continued in the coming year.

SERV’s strategy and development

SERV was also well on track in the final year of the 2020–2023 strategy period and was able to achieve its objectives for the entire period. In December 2023, the Federal Council approved the new objectives for the 2024–2027 strategy period. The Federal Council again commissioned SERV to propose solutions for its development.

The gradual process of structural change, along with the crises and events that have occurred in close succession and to some extent simultaneously, have had a major impact on the export-oriented Swiss economy and have caused its needs to change. This raises the question as to what needs to be done to ensure that SERV can continue to provide the best possible support for the competitiveness of the Swiss export industry in the future. Based on studies of the situation facing the export industry, SERV’s Board of Directors commissioned an internal project group to examine whether there is a fundamental need to reform the SERV Act. Intensive preparatory work for an open revision of the law was undertaken over the course of the year, leading the SERV Board of Directors to the conclusion that the effective future development of SERV is only possible with a focused partial revision of the legal framework. SERV is in regular contact with SECO and the Federal Finance Administration (FFA) to discuss this issue.

In alignment with the Federal Council’s new strategic objectives for SERV, the current strategy was adapted with a time horizon until 2027. Particular emphasis was placed on the themes of adaptation, innovation, transparency and resilience. The strategy covers the entire spectrum of SERV’s organisational and operational activities and is reviewed and updated annually.

International environment

After years of intensive discussions, the OECD member states reached an agreement in the spring of 2023. The Arrangement on Officially Supported Export Credits (“Arrangement”) applies to credit transactions with a term of more than two years. This modernisation is considered a milestone. During the negotiations, SERV pushed for the rules to be simplified and made more flexible in order to better accommodate the unique characteristics of individual transactions. This extra flexibility, together with the expansion of the Climate Change Sector Understanding (“CCSU”) will allow a greater number of climate-friendly projects to benefit from the more flexible conditions.

This year’s General Meetings of the Berne Union focused, among other matters, on the challenges posed by the rapidly changing geopolitical situation. In this context, the measures and adjustments adopted by export credit insurers (ECAs) with regard to their mandates and product ranges were also discussed. The transition in the energy sector and its impact on the business of ECAs was another focus area, as was the reconstruction of Ukraine and the potential role of ECAs in that process. The Berne Union is an important network for SERV, as it provides an opportunity to engage in regular dialogue with non-OECD and private export credit agencies.

SERV also cultivated its bilateral relations in the year under review. In addition to the annual, close exchange with the so-called DACH countries (Germany, Austria and Switzerland), SERV also initiated new collaborations with other ECAs, particularly in the area of reinsurance.

OECD country risk categories

As at 31 December 2023

Losses and claims

In the year under review, SERV made indemnity payments totalling CHF 53.6 million. Most of these losses were small in size. In addition, there were a number of medium-sized losses and several larger losses, including two in Ghana, one in El Salvador and one in Tanzania, as well as imminent losses in Ethiopia, which explain the exceptionally high loss expenses of around CHF 222 million.

The two losses in Ghana arose from the country’s insolvency in December 2022. The African country has halted many large projects. Many poorer countries are struggling to meet their payment obligations, in part due to the sharp rise in foreign currency interest rates in USD and EUR.




in CHF million


Some losses were averted through prompt, active pre-loss management using measures such as restructuring due dates and extending cover. Since 2020, several crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine and the current conflict in the Middle East have arisen, leading to increasing uncertainty and suggesting that further losses are to be expected in the near future. Where necessary, SERV has set aside financial reserves for this purpose. To date, however, no wave of losses from the multiple crises has materialised.

In recovery, 224 losses in a total of 39 countries were processed. Recovery is often a challenging, protracted process that depends to a great extent on the country and on the debtor’s willingness or ability to pay. Initiation of legal action in the debtor country concerned does, however, give rise to some successes. Support from political actors such as embassies can also have a very positive effect on recovery in individual cases. The largest recoveries in the year under review came from India (CHF 13.8 million), the United Arab Emirates (CHF 5.8 million), Congo-Brazzaville (CHF 2.1 million) and Algeria (CHF 1.7 million). Recoveries from Bangladesh totalled CHF 1.5 million.


in CHF million