SECO is the centre of expertise for questions relating to market access for agricultural and industrial goods in Switzerland and abroad. One of its functions is to help shape the relevant national and international operating framework. The aim is to dismantle existing barriers to goods trading as far as possible, both domestically and internationally, and to improve foreign market access for Swiss products.
Customs tariff policy
With its policy on customs tariffs, Switzerland endeavours to achieve a balance between the need to protect certain sectors of the economy – specifically agriculture – and the demands of an open economy. Swiss customs tariff policy reflects its international obligations under bilateral free trade agreements and multilateral agreements on reducing tariff-based barriers to trade.
Abolition of industrial tariffs
Tariffs on industrial products will be abolished from 1 January 2024. In Switzerland, all goods with the exception of agricultural products (incl. feed) and fishery products count as industrial products. The lifting of industrial tariffs thus concerns all goods under Chapters 25–97 of the Swiss customs tariff, with the exception of certain products under Chapters 35 and 38 that are classified as agricultural products.
Processed agricultural products
The tariffs levied on the import of processed agricultural products into Switzerland are intended to compensate for the price handicap faced by the domestic food industry. Provision for this mechanism is found in the Federal Act on the Import of Processed Agricultural Products (SR 632.111.72).
Rules of origin
There are two elements to Swiss policy on rules of origin: (i) preferential origin subject to rules that grant preferential tariffs under a free trade agreement or to developing countries under the Generalized System of Preferences; and (ii) non-preferential origin, which applies in the context of specific foreign trade measures. Rules of origin allow a product's origin to be determined clearly. In simplified terms, like a person a product is given a nationality (= origin) and an identity document (= proof of origin).
Trade facilitation aims to simplify and speed up customs clearance for goods and thereby reduce costs for business. As part of its trade facilitation programmes, Switzerland seeks to achieve efficient frameworks for Swiss exporters and importers, as well as straightforward, coordinated trade procedures with its trading partners.
Many of Switzerland's trading partners deploy trade defence instruments such as safeguard and anti-dumping or anti-subsidy measures. Switzerland does not employ such trade remedies.
In March 2018, the USA imposed additional import duties on steel and aluminium. In response to this move the EU introduced safeguard measures on steel imports. With its export-oriented economy and globally active businesses, Switzerland has a critical interest in preventing protectionist action on trade and in resolving disputes on the basis of the relevant international trade agreements. It is therefore committed to establishing and maintaining stable trade relations with its partners.
Last modification 31.08.2022