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BREXIT COUNTDOWN: UK Signs Trade Deal With Switzerland – Media

Tom Burroughes

11 February 2019

The UK government has inked a deal with Switzerland that will remove the need for added tariffs after Britain leaves the European Union, due to take place on 29 March.

According to Bloomberg, the agreement means that the countries will not need to trade under World Trade Organization terms, and eliminates the requirement to pay duties on most goods traded between the UK and Switzerland, according to a statement today. The UK carmaker sector could avoid paying up to 8 million pounds ($10 million) a year in tariff charges under the agreement, it was quoted as saying.

“Switzerland is one of the most valuable trading partners that we are seeking continuity for, accounting for more than 32 billion pounds worth of trade a year,” Trade Secretary Liam Fox was quoted saying. “Not only will this help to support jobs throughout the UK but it will also be a solid foundation for us to build an even stronger trading relationship with Switzerland as we leave the EU.”

Relations between the states are likely to become even more important post-Brexit, not least because Switzerland – which has access to the European Single Market via bilateral treaties but is not an EU member state – could point a way forward for how a post-Brexit UK should conduct itself. Both countries have significant international financial centres. Swiss and British financial services groups operate in each others’ countries. For example, UBS, Credit Suisse, Julius Baer, Pictet, Lombard Odier, Mirabaud and a number of other Swiss banks have offices, some with booking centres, in the UK. Barclays, HSBC and Schroders, to name just three UK financial firms, ply their trade in the Alpine state. 

Switzerland’s own relations with the EU have been bumpy recently. Brussels wants Switzerland to adopt a sweeping pact with it, consolidating a range of bilateral deals. Switzerland has over the years signed about 120 agreements with the bloc covering areas such as market access, movement, transport and mutual recognition of product and service standards. 

When Swiss voters in 2014 backed introducing immigration quotas, it prompted anger from the EU, claiming that such a restriction on free movement could restrict Swiss access to the Single Market. More recently, the EU made its continued recognition of the Swiss stock market under MiFID II financial market regulations dependent on how well talks on the framework agreement proceed.

WealthBriefing last Thursday announced winners of its annual Swiss awards programme, with the event held in Geneva.