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Senate approves free trade deal with Mexico

Mexico will benefit from the waiving of duty payments on products such as bananas Keystone Archive

The Swiss Senate has voted unanimously in favour of forging a free trade agreement with Mexico with immediate effect.

The new bilateral agreement, drawn-up within the framework of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), ensures that Switzerland will get more access to Mexican markets from July 1, matching the current levels enjoyed by the United States and the European Union.

Mexico is Switzerland’s fourth most important trade partner in the Americas, after the United States, Canada and Brazil, with current exports totalling SFr4 billion ($2.25 billion).

The Swiss economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, said closer trade ties would further increase this sum with Swiss firms being able to save up to SFr100 million ($56.2 million) in duty payments alone.

Mexico will profit from the waiving of duty payments on products such as coffee, bananas and honey and make overall savings in excess of SFr3.5 million ($1.97 million).

Although the bill encountered staunch opposition from the left over Mexico’s human rights record when it went to the vote in the House of Representatives, no such opposition was voiced in the Senate.

The left’s earlier argument drew specific attention to Mexico’s war-torn Chiapas region, where the country’s indigenous Indians are fighting for better rights.

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