Switzerland can start benefiting from increased access to Mexican markets after Bern's free trade agreement with Sao Paolo came into effect on Sunday.This content was published on July 1, 2001 - 16:16
The new bilateral agreement, drawn up within the framework of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), ensures that Switzerland can now enjoy the same levels of market access as 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 and allow Swiss firms 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).
There had been some opposition to the agreement by left-leaning political parties in the Swiss House of Representatives. The left had drawn attention to Mexico's war-torn Chiapas region, where the country's indigenous Indians are fighting for better rights.
Couchepin dismissed the argument saying the trade agreement was not an attack on human rights.
swissinfo with agencies
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