On May 25, 2022, the Federal Council adopted a report entitled ‘Ex-ante assessment of the impact of free trade agreements on sustainable development’. The report identifies available methodologies that can be used to evaluate in advance (ex ante) the potential impact of free trade agreements (FTAs) on sustainable development.
Ex-ante sustainability analyses can be used to examine the potential impact on sustainable development of FTAs that are planned or under negotiation. In its revised foreign economic policy strategy, the Federal Council in principle already envisages conducting targeted scientific assessments in advance of important economic agreements. In its report adopted on May 25, 2022, the Federal Council is now setting out how it will implement this measure in concrete terms in connection with FTAs. This measure is part of the Federal Council’s ongoing efforts to improve the transparency of foreign economic policy.
The report is based on a corresponding postulate (19.3011) of the Control Committee of the National Council. It draws on a study commissioned by Switzerland from the OECD on various methods that can be used to conduct ex ante sustainability analyses of FTAs. The OECD study sets out the prerequisites and possibilities, but also the constraints associated with the various methods. In addition, the study addresses specific factors and challenges that are particularly relevant for medium-sized and open economies such as Switzerland.
The need for an ex-ante sustainability analysis will be assessed on a case-by-case basis, based on a preliminary analysis. An in-depth analysis will be carried out in particular when sensitive industries and/or sectors are identified that are significantly affected by the changes in market access conditions expected as a result of an FTA.
The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) will have corresponding ex ante sustainability analyses carried out in consultation with the relevant federal offices and, if possible, jointly with the other EFTA states.