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Continuation of Doha Round
Switzerland has sought to advance the Doha Round negotiations on several levels. Despite intensive efforts and an informal ministerial conference lasting several days in July 2008, the breakthrough strived for was not achieved. Progress remains uncertain. The WTO and the existing body of rules remain in effect and continue to determine Switzerland’s economic relations with many different states.
Relations with the EU
In the year under review the existing agreements were consolidated and initial discussions were held in new fields. The entry into force of the Schengen/Dublin agreements on 12 December 2008 was particularly important. Further decisive themes in the year under review will remain relevant in 2009:
Free trade agreements
The worldwide trend towards the conclusion of free trade agreements is reinforced by the stalling of the Doha Round. In the reporting year, Switzerland in association with its EFTA partners signed agreements with Canada and Colombia. Negotiations with the States of the Gulf Cooperation Council and with Peru have been concluded in substance. On a bilateral level general agreement on the content of an agreement was reached with Japan – Switzerland’s fourth most important trading partner after the EU, the USA and China (with Hong Kong). Within the framework of EFTA, Switzerland took up negotiations with Algeria and India and is considering doing so in the current year with Russia, Serbia, Albania and Ukraine. Clarifications with China on the commencement of negotiations on a bilateral agreement continued.
International financial system
The financial crisis has highlighted the global interconnection of the financial system and its impact in the event of a crisis on the international economy. In addition to governments the international bodies such as the International Monetary Fund and the Financial Stability Forum also play a key role in overcoming the crisis.
Natural resources in foreign economic strategy
The focus chapter is dedicated to the topic of natural resources in foreign economic strategy. The integration of natural resources in the foreign economic policy strategy is particularly important for Switzerland as it has few raw materials and is heavily affected by the scarcity and increase in price of natural resources. However, given that various countries rich in raw materials primarily claim them for themselves, there are limits to the implementation of these efforts.
The focus chapter and the executive summary of the report are also published online in English.