The statement made by Anne-Marie Trevelyan, the Secretary of State for International Trade, in the House of Commons on 28 April 2022.
The Prime Minister and President Cassis of Switzerland held a meeting this morning, during which they discussed strengthening the bilateral relationship and boosting trade and investment ties. Following this, the call for input on an enhanced trade agreement with Switzerland has now been launched.
The UK is committed to our trade and investment relationship with Switzerland, our 10th largest trade partner with bilateral trade worth nearly £35 billion a year. The UK’s current trading relationship is based on the 1972 EU-Switzerland agreement, rolled over on 1 January 2021. While this includes many provisions on trade in goods, intellectual property and government procurement, it crucially does not contain any agreements for services or digital trade, which account for half of our economic relationship with Switzerland and are a key reality of the global economy in the 21st century.
As two services powerhouses, negotiations for a bespoke UK-Switzerland free trade agreement are a significant opportunity to build on our current trade agreement and negotiate an ambitious, unprecedented deal that will accelerate the growth of our already significant trading relationship, creating economic growth and supporting jobs in both countries.
The call for input will provide businesses, public sector bodies, individuals and other interested stakeholders with the opportunity to give valuable feedback and highlight their priorities for a closer trading relationship with Switzerland.
The feedback received from stakeholders will be crucial when shaping our mandate, and will inform detailed negotiations preparation, and policy positions. The Department for International Trade is committed to ensuring future trade agreements and their provisions are informed by stakeholder needs and shaped by the demands of the British economy.
The launch of the call for input is a key step in our joint ambition to renegotiate a high quality and ambitious trade agreement, focused on creating even greater opportunities for UK businesses. Our trade with Switzerland has increased almost three-fold over the last 20 years, with service exports rising from £2.4 billion in 2000 to £12.2 billion in 2020. These new negotiations will allow us to increase this even further, while leveraging our respective strengths in talent and innovation to agree cutting-edge digital provisions.
The UK and its partners in Switzerland share a desire to develop closer ties. While a timescale for negotiations will be confirmed and set out in due course following consultation with Swiss counterparts, the call for input will seek to support the goal of greater economic prosperity for businesses and will ensure that their needs are heard. The Government are committed to transparency and will ensure that Parliament, the devolved Administrations, UK citizens and businesses have access to information on our trade negotiations.
The call for input can be accessed using the following link: https://www.gov.uk/government/consultations/trade-with-switzerland-call-for-input.