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What China-Switzerland FTA brings about?

Xinhua | Updated: 2013-05-25 17:38

BERN, Switzerland - China and Switzerland on Friday concluded their talks over a bilateral free trade agreement, which will be the first between Beijing and continental Europe.

The achievement was hailed as a "milestone" by political leaders and business community, while Swiss media described it as one of the most important international deals in 40 years for Switzerland.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who is on an official visit to Switzerland, said the FTA will not only benefit the two countries but also the trade between China and the European Union as well as global investment and trade liberalization.

Significant achievement in bilateral ties

Statistics showed that two-way trade between China and Switzerland exceeded $30 billion in 2011, a record increase of 50 percent compared with that of 2010. Despite the persistent eurozone sovereign debt crisis and uncertainties in the world economy, bilateral trade volume remained as high as $26.3 billion last year.

China is already Switzerland's third major trading partner behind the EU and the United States, while Switzerland is China's seventh largest trading partner in Europe.

Chinese Commerce Minister Gao Hucheng said the completion of free trade talks is a historic event in bilateral economic and trade cooperation.

Gao, who signed an MOU with Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann, said it marked a significant achievement for China's FTA strategy.

He said the FTA would be one of the most comprehensive and high-level accords China has signed with a foreign country in recent years.

The agreement will cover a number of new areas like environment, labor and employment cooperation, protection of intellectual property rights, and information exchanges on government procurement, Gao said.

Experts say the Swiss pharmaceutical and chemical industry, tourism, engineering and watch-making sectors, as well as food producers, would benefit from the deal.

In a written interview with Xinhua on the eve of Li's visit, Swiss President Ueli Maurer said the FTA between the two countries would generate profits in the long run for businesses and citizens of the two countries and contribute to a sustainable expansion of trade and economic well-being.

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