Government outlines foreign-trade policy goals
The government has approved a major strategic document that clearly outlines for the first time ever its foreign-trade policy objectives.
The paper forms the core of the government’s annual Foreign Trade Report, which was approved at Wednesday’s weekly cabinet meeting.
It gives concrete form to one of the main priorities set by Economics Minister Joseph Deiss in his 2004 “growth package”, namely improving Swiss integration into the world economy.
Publication comes ahead of crucial nationwide votes on future relations with the European Union, and at a time when economic and political leaders are calling for radical reforms to jumpstart the Swiss economy.
Foreign-trade policy is an area of exceptional political importance in Switzerland, a country with virtually no natural resources whose economy is largely dependent on the success of its export sector.
The government proposals will form the basis for more specific measures to be elaborated on during 2005.
They fall into two main categories: moves to increase competition at home and to improve access to foreign markets for Swiss companies.
“There is a growing tendency today to conclude regional and bilateral trade and investment agreements,” said the economics ministry in a statement.
“Furthermore, the last few decades have seen the international exchange of services and investment assume increasing importance in comparison with trade in goods.
“Also, the continuing intensification of economic exchanges across national frontiers leads to ever-closer links between domestic economic and foreign-trade policy.”
Competitive domestic sector
The report stresses that a competitive domestic sector is a “precondition” for a successful foreign-trade policy, as it encourages economic growth, increases international competitiveness and paves the way for international agreements.
It says Switzerland, as a medium-sized trading nation, should aim wherever possible to open its markets to competition by means of multilateral agreements.
The authors also call for the conclusion of more bilateral agreements, particularly free-trade accords, with selected non-European nations.
Multilateral and bilateral accords should cover services and investments as well as goods, in order to optimise protection of intellectual-property rights and maximise the mobility of qualified workers.
The report also calls for Switzerland to contribute further to the economic development of trading partners, by actively using its membership of multilateral organisations and through economic development activities.
swissinfo with agencies
The document outlines five policy objectives:
Strengthen international economic relations.
Improve access to key international markets.
Achieve foreign-market access for all economic categories (goods, services, investments).
Improve foreign-market access for companies of all sizes.
Ensure implementation and application of existing accords.
The government has given concrete form to one of its main policy priorities, by producing a first-of-a-kind outline of its foreign-trade goals.
The new strategy aims to ensure the success of Switzerland’s crucially important export sector.
It also reinforces calls for more domestic-market competition as a precondition for success abroad.
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