Switzerland aims to extend trade agreements

Turkey is just one among many nations seeking to improve trade relations with Switzerland Keystone

The Swiss government is seeking to update and extend a series of older free trade agreements, the state secretary for economic affairs has announced a few days after a memorandum of understanding on a similar accord was signed with China.

This content was published on May 26, 2013 minutes and agencies

Speaking in Istanbul, Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch, said that earlier deals with Turkey, Canada, South Korea and Mexico were ripe for improvement.

“We want to update accords to bring them to the level of those agreed with the United States and the European Union,” she told the Swiss News Agency.

Ineichen-Fleisch was in Turkey to discuss with the deputy economics minister, Mustafa Sever, improvements to the current free trade agreement (FTA).

This accord was signed in 1992 under the aegis of the European Free Trade Association. It covers only merchandise and some sectors covered by intellectual property. Services, public contracts, investment, sustainable development or simplifying trade are not included.

Ineichen-Fleisch and Sever agreed that discussions between the two governments’ experts towards updating the FTA would be worthwhile.

The state secretary warned though discussions were not an open-and-shut case as Switzerland would be expected to make concessions. “This is especially the case for customs duties for imports, where we don’t have much more to offer,” she added.

Other agreements

The Swiss don’t necessarily have the resources to keep up on all sides either. Major efforts are also underway to conclude new FTAs with China, India, Russia, Vietnam and Indonesia. Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann could sign the accord with Beijing as early as July.

Talks with India are far less advanced. “There are still many open points such as access for industrial and agricultural products, as well as intellectual property and sustainable development,” said Ineichen-Fleisch.

So far, Switzerland has signed 27 FTAs. The most important and oldest is the agreement signed with the European Union in 1973, which regulates all trade with the EU’s 27 member states.

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