World / Switzerland Visit

Highly visible FTA leads to wave of 2-way trade

By Cecily Liu (China Daily) Updated: 2015-01-22 07:33

In the seven months since the free trade agreement between Switzerland and China came into force, it has greatly helped to accelerate business collaboration between the two countries.

The agreement calls for zero tariffs on 99.7 percent of Chinese exports to Switzerland, and 84.2 percent of Swiss goods sent to China.

"The high public awareness created in Switzerland by the agreement has led to more visibility for business opportunities for Swiss companies in China," said Alain Graf, director of Swiss Business Hub in China, a government organization charged with the promotion of exports and investments in China.

Increasing numbers of Swiss companies have been turning to China, a trend that is expected to continue as many smaller companies begin to make full use of the new regulations, Graf said.

"That a lot of enterprises have been starting to do so is shown by the ever growing number of requests we receive from Swiss companies about the agreement," he said.

Switzerland is the second European state and the third member of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development to sign a free trade agreement with China. Iceland signed a deal in 2013; New Zealand signed one six years earlier.

When products on which tariffs have been reduced are taken into account, the China-Switzerland agreement covers nearly all Chinese exports to Switzerland and 96.5 percent of goods flowing the other way.

The agreement also covers such matters as collaboration on tackling environmental issues, labor and employment issues and intellectual property protection.

Erik Jandrasits, trade affairs manager of Science industries, a business association for the Swiss chemical, pharmaceutical and biotech industries, said the association's member companies consider the agreement an important step in liberalizing trade and improving intellectual property protection.

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