Business / Economy

FTA with Switzerland to 'energize trade' ties

By Cecily Liu (China Daily) Updated: 2014-07-03 07:18

FTA with Switzerland to 'energize trade' ties

China's ambassador to the World Trade Organization Yu Jianhua (left) and Swiss Federal Councilor Johann Schneider-Ammann attend a press conference on the free trade agreement between China and Switzerland. The agreement, which came into effect on Tuesday, is expected to help generate long-term economic benefits for both countries. [Photo/Xinhua]

The free trade agreement between China and Switzerland, which came into effect on Tuesday, will help generate long-term economic benefits for both countries, top industry experts said.

According to estimates provided by Switzerland Global Enterprise, a nonprofit association, the potential savings for Swiss companies in 2015, the first year after the FTA comes into effect, could amount to 166 million Swiss francs ($187 million). The product groups where the greatest savings can be made are wristwatches, medicine, medical devices, gas turbines and elevators, and men's suits, the SGE said.

The FTA, which was signed in 2013, grants zero tariff to 99.7 percent of Chinese exports to Switzerland and 84.2 percent of Swiss exports to China. The tariffs will be phased out over time.

FTA with Switzerland to 'energize trade' ties
FTA with Switzerland to 'energize trade' ties
Ruth Metzler-Arnold, president of the supervisory board of SGE, said the FTA will benefit Swiss exporters and the smaller suppliers to exporters.

Erik Jandrasits, trade affairs manager of science industries, a Swiss business association for the chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech industries, said the FTA would greatly benefit its members.

Jandrasits said in addition to reduced trade tariffs, Swiss companies can also gain from increased intellectual property protection in China, which is a part of the FTA.

Esther Kessler, a senior lecturer in the department of international business at Zurich University of Applied Sciences, said Switzerland's links with the EU make it a good choice for China to establish the FTA with. Kessler said the FTA sends a strong signal to other EU countries to further increase trade and investment with China.

Qin Lan, delegate for China affairs in the Greater Zurich Area, the promotional agency for the region, said the FTA has prompted more Chinese companies to set up operations in Switzerland.

Qin said many of these Chinese companies are looking to make their products in Switzerland and then sell them back to China, as such exports will benefit from the FTA but will have the advantage of being a Swiss-made product.

Michael Vanunger, chief executive officer of CIBC Swiss AG, a banking group that trades a large amount of gold, said he hopes that CIBC's gold exports to China would benefit from the FTA.

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