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Trade accords Swiss government eyes trade deal with Washington

Selection of Swiss cheeses

The US market is an excellent opportunity for Swiss cheese exports according to Finance Minister Maurer.

(Keystone)

Finance Minister Ueli Maurer says the government is pushing for negotiations with the United States on a bilateral free trade agreement.

Maurer said he was optimistic that the Swiss government would approve a mandate for talks before the end of the year as the moment was right for a new attempt after a previous effort failed more than ten years ago.

“The US export market is very interesting for Swiss farmers,” Maurer told the Swiss News Agency on the sidelines of the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

He was referring to strong opposition in 2006 by the Swiss agriculture sector.

The state secretary in the Swiss economics ministry is expected in Washington for exploratory talks next week.

Indonesia

Meanhwile, Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann says negotiations between Indonesia and the four nation European Free Trade Association (EFTA), including Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein, are in the final phase.

Schneider-Ammann told SRF public radio that he agreed with his Indonesian counterpart to conclude the negotiations by the end of November.

Over the past few months, a number of obstacles over fishery products and palm oil have delayed a successful conclusion of the talks underway since 2011.

Merchandise trade between the EFTA and Indonesia amounted to $2.3 billion (CHF2.3 billion) in 2017.

Point of view Opportunity knocks for Switzerland in the US

US President Donald Trump prefers bilateral agreements to multilateral ones. For Switzerland, this signifies an opportunity – but also uncertainty.

swissinfo.ch with SDA-ATS; urs

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