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The parallel import of goods from the European Union which are protected by patent in Switzerland will be allowed from July.

The move is expected to reduce prices of some of the affected products, since they can be sold more cheaply than identical Swiss-made ones.

Parallel imports are branded goods manufactured or purchased abroad at a reduced cost and then sold in Switzerland at a lower-than-usual price.

Consumer groups argued for years that the trade restrictions made Switzerland an island of high prices.

However, the business lobby successfully defended the ban, saying it boosted Swiss innovation and ensured sectors such as the pharmaceutical industry could continue to flourish.

Parliament finally agreed to end the ban, but decided to exempt pharmaceutical products. Parallel imports are expected to save Swiss consumers around SFr150 million ($140 million) a year.

The debate over parallel imports dates back to 1999 when the Federal Court ruled against the company Kodak, which attempted to sell film manufactured abroad at a price lower than on the Swiss market.

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