Switzerland Trade Negotiations Update: Launch of Negotiations

Department for Business and Trade written statement – made on 15 May 2023.

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Photo of Kemi Badenoch Kemi Badenoch Minister of State (Housing, Communities and Local Government), Minister of State (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office), Minister for Women and Equalities, Secretary of State for Business and Trade, President of the Board of Trade, Minister for Women and Equalities

Today, the 15th May the Department for Business and Trade will launch negotiations for an enhanced and upgraded Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Switzerland, with the first round of negotiations to be held in London this May.

In line with the Government’s commitments to transparency and scrutiny, more information on these negotiations will be published and placed in the House Libraries. This will include:

  • The strategic case for an upgraded UK-Switzerland trade agreement.
  • Our objectives for the negotiations.
  • A scoping assessment, providing a preliminary economic assessment of the potential impact of the agreement.
  • A summary of the responses to the call for input on trade with Switzerland held in April 2022. This took views from consumers, businesses, and other interested stakeholders across the UK on their priorities for enhancing our existing trading relationship with Switzerland.

Switzerland is already one of the UK’s most important trading partners and a key market for UK businesses of all sizes. Total trade between the UK and Switzerland has quadrupled over the last 20 years to reach £52.8 billion in 2022. Switzerland is the UK’s 10th largest trading partner worldwide and our 2nd largest non-EU (European Union) trading partner in services.

Building on our long history of close relations and shared values, an enhanced UK-Switzerland FTA will modernise and improve on our current agreement, signed in February 2019. This is a continuity deal based on a more than 50-year-old agreement between Switzerland and the EU and does not contain any commitments on services, investment or digital trade, despite these accounting for roughly half of our economic relationship.

A new agreement presents opportunities to secure long-term certainty on current arrangements and upgrade these to boost bilateral trade and investment. It will benefit crucial UK sectors such as financial and professional services, as well as businesses exporting digitally delivered services. It is also an opportunity to reduce or remove burdensome tariffs and quotas on agricultural goods. In terms of mobility, we will seek to provide long-term certainty, building on the outcomes of the recently extended Services Mobility Agreement.

UK and Switzerland’s shared values also provide potential for greater cooperation in areas of mutual interest that trade can support, such as innovative research and development, and on our shared ambitions for tackling climate change. Negotiations provide an opportunity for both sides to defend free trade and showcase the best of European cooperation, demonstrating what two like-minded European nations can achieve outside of the European Union.

A comprehensive agreement with Switzerland is a key part of the UK’s strategy to secure advanced modern agreements with new international partners and upgrade existing continuity agreements to better suit the UK economy. It will provide opportunities for businesses big and small across the UK, unlocking trade and investment and opening up new exciting opportunities for growth in all regions.

The Government remains clear that any deal with Switzerland will be in the best interests of the British people and the UK economy. We will not compromise on our high environmental and labour protections, public health, animal welfare and food standards, and we will maintain our right to regulate in the public interest. We are also clear that during these negotiations the NHS and the services it provides are not on the table.

The Government will continue to keep Parliament updated as negotiations progress, including close engagement with the relevant Parliamentary Committees.