The UK has commenced negotiations with Switzerland to create a new free trade agreement (FTA) to boost trade between the two countries.
Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch visited Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, on 15 May to meet with her counterpart Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and begin talks regarding the new deal.
The current FTA between the UK and Switzerland is based on an EU-Swiss deal that was originally agreed more than 50 years ago and does not cover services, investment, digital or data. The two countries are among the world’s leading service economies, exporting almost £15bn worth of services including financial, professional, legal and architectural every year.
UK services exports worldwide reached record highs in 2022, totalling £397bn according to data published by the Office for National Statistics. The refreshed, modern FTA with Switzerland could see the UK grow service-focused trade with the country by removing barriers to market access and improving regulatory cooperation.
As Switzerland’s demand for imports is expected to grow in real terms by 78% by 2050, the FTA could lower tariffs on UK exports and create simpler trade rules for products of origin, customs procedures and digitisation. If agreed in the new FTA, this could benefit more than 14,000 UK businesses, 86% of which are SMEs, who already export goods to Switzerland.
The talks will also look to provide long-term certainty on business travel, particularly for services firms, helping firms in sectors ranging from life sciences to technology to share expertise, form partnerships and expand into new markets.
Oliver Carpenter, Policy Manager at Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid, said:
“The UK and Switzerland have commenced talks to establish a new, forward thinking and modern free trade agreement. The new deal will place a greater focus on services, removing trade barriers and improving business cooperation between the UK and Switzerland.
“As the UK’s 10th largest trade partner, trade with Switzerland is worth £53bn and will only increase over time. The current agreement does not cover trade in services, which the future agreement stands to rectify.
“Chambers Wales South East, South West and Mid commends the plans to include trade digitisation and data into the agreement, as this could help further export Wales to the world.
“Wales has much to offer Switzerland, from financial and professional services to strong manufacturing and tourism industries, but there is also room for cooperation on legal services, life sciences and R&D. A modern and ambitious deal will ensure that Welsh, UK and Swiss businesses can work closer together, pushing prosperity and progress for our nations.”