Use of free trade agreements

Company survey on the use of free trade agreements - Exports

Every year, around CHF 400 million in customs duties are levied on products exported from Switzerland to partner countries, even though free trade agreements exist with these partner countries. Why is this the case? The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) would like to investigate this question and needs your help.

Through a company survey on the use of free trade agreements, SECO would like to ask Swiss exporters about the challenges they face in connection with the use of free trade agreements. The aim is to better understand how Switzerland's free trade agreements are used by companies and how the use of free trade agreements can be further simplified.

Please participate in the company survey through the following link:

We would like to ask you to complete the questionnaire by January 31, 2022. It is possible to complete the questionnaire in German or French and it takes between 5 and 15 minutes to complete the survey.

Your participation makes a valuable contribution to further simplifying the use of free trade agreements and to further develop Swiss foreign economic policy.

Free trade agreements: How are companies using them?

As a follow-up to a study examining the utilization of free trade agreements ("Analyse zur Nutzung von Freihandelsabkommen") published by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) in August 2020, a further analysis was conducted in cooperation with the University of St. Gallen. The analysis examined the factors which influence whether companies avail themselves of the preferential tariffs granted under free trade agreements (FTAs) when importing goods into Switzerland.

This in-depth analysis confirms that smaller and larger companies use free trade agreements with equal frequency (savings rate of 88% and 87% on customs duties respectively). While companies with over 250 employees saved around CHF 728 million in customs duties in 2019 thanks to FTAs, the figure for SMEs was higher totaling CHF 1,134 million. Firms for which the number of employees is not known achieved a further CHF 221 million in customs duties savings. Across all companies, the savings rate (the proportion of potential customs duties savings that was actually achieved) is 84 percent.

Questions and Answers

Free trade agreements: Do companies benefit?

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) has commissioned a comprehensive data analysis. It shows the extent to which Swiss companies make use of Switzerland's free trade agreements to save customs duties.

The study "Analysis on the use of free trade agreements" by Stefan Legge and Piotr Lukaszuk of the University of St. Gallen was commissioned by SECO to obtain findings on the use of and tariff savings gained through all of Switzerland’s existing free trade agreements (FTAs). The study was commissioned by the Business Audit Committee of the National Council (GPK-N) to examine the effects of FTAs.

The study shows that Swiss importers and consumers saved CHF 2.5 billion in customs duties in 2018 thanks to FTAs. The average usage rate for FTAs was 73%. For exports to FTA countries (for those that provided data), the preference utilisation rate in 2018 was 80%. This corresponds to a customs saving of CHF 1.8 billion.

Questions and answers

Further information?


Study "Analysis on the use of free trade agreements on behalf of SECO" by Stefan Legge and Piotr Lukaszuk of the University of St. Gallen

Executive Summary "Determinants of the Use of Free Trade Agreements Further Analysis" by Stefan Legge and Piotr Lukaszuk of the University of St. Gallen

The FTA Monitor: All relevant figures on the use of the individual FTAs are shown at a glance in the FTA Monitor.

Articles in "Die Volkswirtschaft»

Specialist staff
Last modification 09.12.2021

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