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Switzerland benefits from bilateral ties

Switzerland's economy has been boosted by bilateral agreements with the European Union, the government has said.

The free movement of people accord has increased gross domestic product by at least one per cent – around SFr5 billion ($4.26 billion), the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) said on Monday.

Seco's announcement came on the six-year anniversary of the first package of agreements coming into force.

Opening the labour market also created 250,000 new jobs in Switzerland since 2005, while an agreement on trade barriers enabled Swiss exporters to reduce costs by up to SFr500 million a year, Seco added.

In the agricultural sector, sales to the EU have doubled to SFr4.6 billion and the treaty on air transport has led to more business links to major European destinations.

Switzerland also receives more financial support for research programmes than it pays out as a result.

Seco head Jean-Daniel Gerber said the expected increase in Swiss unemployment figures by 140,000 by the end of 2009 was related to the economic slowdown, rather than increased immigration as a result of the accords.


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