The fourth round of negotiations on a UK-Switzerland enhanced Free Trade Agreement (FTA) has taken place in Bern, Switzerland.

A statement from the UK Government said they are continuing to work together with the Swiss towards an ambitious trade deal.

UK-Swiss services trade was worth £27.9 billion in the 12 months to September 2023.

A new, modernised free trade agreement with Switzerland will add to the UK’s growing armoury of powerful service-focused deals by removing market access barriers, improving regulatory cooperation and enabling UK firms to compete on an equal footing in Switzerland.

This round, the countries provisionally agreed in principle the chapter on Small and Medium Enterprises helping UK SMEs expand their operations more easily into the Swiss market.

Trade Minister Greg Hands MP said: “The talks continue to be constructive and positive, with both countries focused on achieving a modern and comprehensive agreement with ambitious outcomes, including in areas such as services and investment, mobility, digital and the environment, which are not covered by our existing FTA.”

He continued: “We look forward to future further discussions between the UK and Switzerland to deliver our desired outcomes for the FTA. It is especially important for the UK that we achieve mobility outcomes, which are a top priority for business stakeholders on both sides and underpin any services and investment market access achieved in the FTA.”

The fifth hybrid round of negotiations is expected to take place in the UK in early summer 2024.

The Government says it remains clear that any deal signed, including that with Switzerland, will be in the best interests of the British people and the UK economy.

A Government source said:

“We will not compromise on our high environmental and labour protections, public health, animal welfare and food standards, and we will maintain our right to regulate in the public interest.

“We are also clear that during these negotiations, the NHS, and the services it provides are not on the table.

“His Majesty’s Government will continue to work closely with Switzerland to ensure negotiations proceed at pace and takes place on terms that are right for the UK. We will continue to keep Parliament updated as these negotiations progress.”

Last summer (June 2023) an agreement recognising UK professional qualifications in Switzerland was signed by Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch and Swiss Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin, boosting trade between the two countries.

Agreement follows launch of talks on a new UK-Swiss trade deal to boost trade between the two services superpowers. Photo credit: UK Gov CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 DEED

Under the agreement, UK-qualified professionals in regulated sectors who wish to have their qualifications recognised in Switzerland will have a certain and transparent system to do so; and vice versa.

This will allow British companies to compete for more contracts in Switzerland, boosting UK services exports, growing the UK economy and encouraging Swiss investment into the UK.

The agreement has been welcomed by industry bodies and stakeholders. It will enter into force at the start of 2025 and replace interim arrangements on RPQ with Switzerland, agreed ahead of the UK’s EU Exit.

Business and Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch said:

SUPPORTING OUR FLOURISHING SERVICES SECTOR TO SELL ITS WORLD-CLASS EXPERTISE ABROAD IS KEY TO HELPING GROW EXPORTS AND GROW THE ECONOMY.

FOLLOWING THE START OF FREE TRADE DEAL TALKS LAST MONTH, THIS AGREEMENT WILL HOPEFULLY ENSURE UK COMPANIES COMPETE FOR MORE CONTRACTS IN SWITZERLAND IN THE FUTURE, BOOSTING UK SERVICES EXPORTS, AND ENCOURAGING NEW SWISS INVESTMENT INTO THE UK.

The UK and Switzerland are among the world’s leading service economies, with their services sectors each representing over 70% of GDP for both economies. We traded £24 billion of services between us in 2022, making Switzerland the UK’s 7th largest partner for services trade.

Source: Department for Business and Trade and The Rt Hon Greg Hands MP

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