Free trade agreement between Switzerland and China

A comprehensive bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Switzerland and the People's Republic of China was signed on 6 July 2013 and entered into force on 1 July 2014. The FTA among other things improves mutual market access for agricultural products.

Switzerland is the second European country after Iceland to conclude a free trade agreement with China. It is a comprehensive agreement that not only liberalizes trade in goods, but also includes regulations regarding trade in services, investment promotion, protection of intellectual property and commercial matters relevant to environmental and labour standards. China is the largest outlet for Swiss industrial products in Asia and the third largest worldwide (after the EU and the United States).

With the FTA, China grants concessions for agricultural products (tariff-free or reduced tariffs) for most Swiss products with export potential; namely for dairy products such as cheese, yoghurt, skimmed powdered milk and butter, for dried beef products, and for processed products such as chocolate, baby food, biscuits, jams, roasted coffee, sugar confections, ice cream, non-alcoholic beverages, and wine. Exceptions to the liberalization include for example milk powder and tobacco products.

For basic agricultural products Switzerland grants China concessions within the existing WTO tariff quotas as well as on non-sensitive tariff lines such as tropical products or on imports outside the Swiss harvesting periods. This concerns, for example, certain meat products (game birds, parts of turkey, duck and geese), honey, live plants and cut flowers, certain vegetables and fruit as well as certain fruit juices. For processed agricultural products (pastries, chocolate, sugar confections, pasta etc.) the industry protection element is removed from the import tariffs. Additional tariff reduction is granted for 20 tariff lines of particular export interest to China (primarily sugar, bakery and pasta products and peanut butter).

In 2012, Switzerland imported CHF 120 million worth of agricultural goods from China. This corresponds to 1% of all imports from China and 1% of total agricultural imports during the period in question. Important import products in terms of value include for example by-products of starch extraction for animal feed (CHF 14 million), green coffee (CHF 14 million), soya oil cakes for animal feed (CHF 8 million), dried or preserved mushrooms (CHF 8 million) or preserved tomatoes (CHF 4 million). During the same period, Switzerland exported CHF 52 million worth of agricultural products to China (CHF 12 million in baby food, CHF 9 million in beverage concentrates, CHF 6 million in chocolate, CHF 5 million in dairy products, CHF 4 million in wine, CHF 3 million in sugar products); this corresponds to 0.7% of all exports to China and 0.6% of Swiss agricultural exports to the world.

Regulations on hygiene of foodstuffs and veterinary requirements are not affected by the free trade agreement between Switzerland and China. Chinese imports continue to be subject to the same standards as local foods and must fulfil the corresponding joint Swiss and EU regulatory requirements.

Further Information

Last modification 23.12.2016

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