The UK’s Business and Trade Secretary, Kemi Badenoch, is flying to Switzerland to launch negotiations for a new free trade agreement between the two countries.
Both nations are among the world’s leading service economies, with almost £15 billion worth of services being exported each year. This includes financial, professional, legal, and architecture services. Considering the original FTA between the UK and Switzerland was agreed more than half a century ago, before the advent of the internet or home computers, it is necessary to amend the agreement, especially with the majority of the UK’s services exports to Switzerland.
The talks will begin in Bern with Badenoch’s Swiss counterpart, Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, however she will also visit the operator of the Swiss Exchange and an innovation accelerator.
With the refreshing of the trading relationship between the two nations, the UK’s growing armoury of service-focused deals will be further increased thanks to the removal of remaining market barriers, improved regulatory cooperation, and the enabling for UK firms to compete on equal terms in Switzerland.
Kemi Badenoch, Business and Trade Secretary, said:
“As two of the world’s leading service economies, there’s a huge prize on offer to both the UK and Switzerland by updating our trading relationship to reflect the strength of our companies working in areas ranging from finance and legal, to accounting and architecture.
“The UK and Switzerland are natural trading partners and today’s launch will play to our strengths as services superpowers, while also boosting investment in emerging technologies, data innovation, and digital trade.”
The demand for imports in Switzerland is anticipated to grow in real terms by 78% by 2015, with this benefitting more than 14,000 UK businesses that already export services to Switzerland. This will be done through the creation of simpler trade rules for products of origin, customs procedures and digitisation.
Chris Hayward, the City of London Corporation’s Policy Chairman, said:
“The UK and Switzerland are the two largest financial centres in Europe which means strengthening our services trade relationship is a top priority for the sector. An enhanced trade agreement would address key cross-cutting issues including mobility, data flows and digital trade to the benefit of both jurisdictions.
“Negotiating a new free trade deal with Switzerland along with a ground-breaking mutual recognition agreement in financial services presents a unique opportunity to set a new paradigm for services trade, and would provide a template for the UK’s future trading relationships.”