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Swiss-Chinese FTA Green light given to China free trade deal

Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann after the official signing of the FTA with China in July 2013

(Keystone)

The free trade agreement between Switzerland and China is set to enter into force on July 1, 2014 after the cabinet gave the go-ahead on Wednesday. China is Switzerland’s third largest trading partner.

In a statement the government said the deal would “improve access to each country’s markets for goods and services and legal certainty with regard to protecting intellectual property and bilateral economic exchanges in general”. It will also remove customs duties in most areas of bilateral trade.

The bilateral free trade agreement was signed by Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann and the Chinese trade minister on July 6 last year.

The Swiss parliament passed the free trade agreement in March, despite some lingering concerns about human rights and immigration.  In the parliamentary debate opponents argued that there should be binding provisions on human rights and labour laws in China.

China is Switzerland’s third largest trading partner. In 2012, Swiss exports to China were valued at CHF8 billion ($9 billion), and imports from there amounted to CHF10 billion. This is China’s first such deal with a continental European nation.

swissinfo.ch and agencies

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