At its meeting on February 15, 2023, the Federal Council approved the mandate to launch negotiations on enhancing the bilateral trade agreement between Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK). The decision is subject to consultation with the relevant parliamentary committees and the Conference of Cantonal Governments.
The trade agreement between Switzerland and the UK was concluded in 2019 and aims to secure, to the greatest extent possible, the mutual rights and obligations that tied the two states prior to Brexit. As envisaged by the agreement, Switzerland and the UK held exploratory talks to enhance the trade deal in the second half of 2022, while SECO conducted a public interest survey in summer 2022 with a view to doing the same.
The Federal Council approved the negotiating mandate subject to consultation with the relevant parliamentary committees and the Conference of Cantonal Governments. Negotiations are to begin by summer, with Switzerland aiming for an agreement that is as extensive as possible. The aim of the agreement is to ensure non-discriminatory market access in various areas that are of importance for the Swiss economy. It should also contribute to consolidating legal certainty for economic exchange and cooperation between Switzerland and the UK, and to facilitating sustainable development.
The UK was one of Switzerland’s ten most important partners in trade in goods in 2022. The bilateral goods trade volume amounted to around CHF 13 billion in 2022. In services trade, the UK was the third most important trading partner for Switzerland according to the most recent data. Bilateral trade in services has increased over the past few years with an average annual growth of more than 3%. In 2021, trade volume amounted to CHF 23 billion.