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Bilateral accords sweep aside trade barriers with EU

Swiss Business Forum leader Rudolf Ramsauer

(Keystone Archive)

Most trade barriers between Switzerland and the European Union have been swept aside by a series of bilateral agreements between Bern and Brussels, according to the head of the Swiss Business Federation, Rudolf Ramsauer.

In an interview with Zurich's "Handelszeitung" newspaper, Ramsauer said Swiss businesses had achieved about 80 per cent of what they wanted from the seven accords, which are due to be ratified by all EU member states this year.

However, he said there was still room for improvement in the food industry and that the services sector needed to be further liberalised.

He also spoke of fiscal problems, particularly in relation to the relationship between Swiss companies and their subsidiaries within the EU. These concern dividends and licence payments to be transferred to companies' headquarters in Switzerland.

Ramsauer said that membership of the EU was not an issue for the Swiss economy at the time being. "The overwhelming majority of leaders in the Swiss economy believe that we should not concentrate on EU membership at present," he said.

Ramsauer also said he did not think it worthwhile for Switzerland to try again to join the European Economic Area, even though some captains of industry favoured such a move. The Swiss voted rejected against membership in 1992.

swissinfo with agencies


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