Economy of Liechtenstein
Low business taxes - the maximum tax rate is 20% - and easy incorporation rules. The country participates in a customs union with Switzerland and uses the Swiss franc as its national currency. It imports more than 85% of its energy requirements. Liechtenstein has been a member of the European Economic Area (an organization serving as a bridge between European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and EU) since May 1995. The government is working to harmonize its economic policies with those of an integrated Europe.
For the last 2 years, the United States has been the most important export market for Liechtenstein, totaling $561 million (SFr. 876 million); Germany is second, with $479 million (SFr. 748 million) worth of imports, and Switzerland third, with $375 million (SFr. 587 million). France and Italy were able to maintain their positions, while Austria and the United Kingdom have been overtaken by Taiwan and Japan.
About 32% of the country's revenues are invested in research and development, one of the driving forces of the success of Liechtenstein's economy. Total R&D spending in 2000 rose by 20.7% to approximately $140 million (213 million francees).
Liechtenstein has chartered 17 banks, three non-bank financial companies, and 71 public investment companies, as well as insurance and reinsurance companies. Its 270 licensed fiduciary companies and 81 lawyers serve as nominees for, or manage, more than 73,000 entities (primarily corporations, institutions, or trusts), partly for non-Liechtenstein residents. About one-third of these entities hold the controlling interest in other entities, chartered in countries other than Liechtenstein.
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