Commencement of negotiations concerning a Free Trade Agreement between Switzerland and Japan
Berne, 19.01.2007 - On 19 January 2007, Switzerland and Japan agreed to take up bilateral negotiations regarding an economic partnership and free trade agreement. Progress has also been made in negotiations regarding other free trade agreements. Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard will sign the EFTA Free Trade Agreement with Egypt on 27 January 2007.
Economic Partnership and Free Trade Agreement between Switzerland and Japan
The joint study group whose aim is to strengthen economic relations between Switzerland and Japan has over the last twelve months undertaken a feasibility study at the official level of a comprehensive economic partnership and free trade agreement between Switzerland and Japan.
In its report, the study group concludes that such an agreement would significantly enhance bilateral economic relations (trade in goods, services, investment) and could strengthen the competitiveness of firms in both countries. The report therefore recommends the swift commencement of negotiations regarding an economic partnership and free trade agreement between Switzerland and Japan.
During the telephone conversation of 19 January 2007, President Micheline Calmy-Rey and the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe acknowledged the report of the study group and announced the opening of negotiations. The agreement sought between Switzerland and Japan would be the first preferential trade agreement between Japan and a European partner.
Japan is Switzerland's third most important trade partner (after the EU and the USA). Swiss exports of goods to Japan in 2005 were valued at CHF 5.9 billion, and imports from Japan at around CHF 3 billion. In terms of services, Japanese statistics for 2005 show exports to Japan of CHF 6.3 billion and imports from Japan of CHF 2.7 billion. As of the end of 2005, Swiss direct investment in Japan was valued at CHF 7.7 billion, that of Japanese direct investment in Switzerland at CHF 1.1 billion.
EFTA Free Trade Agreement with Egypt
Together with the other EFTA ministers (Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway), Federal Councillor Doris Leuthard will sign the EFTA Free Trade Agreement with Egypt in Davos on 27 January 2007. The free trade agreement liberalises in particular the trade in goods and will largely eliminate the discrimination of Swiss industrial exports on the Egyptian market that arose from Egypt's Association Agreement with the EU of 2004.
EFTA has already concluded free trade agreements with several countries from the Euro-Mediterranean area: Turkey, Israel, Morocco, Palestinian Authority, Jordan, Lebanon and Tunisia. These agreements enable the EFTA States to participate in the Euro-Mediterranean Free Trade Area, which is in the process of being established following an EU initiative as part of the Barcelona Declaration.
EFTA Free Trade Agreement with Canada
Negotiations regarding a free trade agreement between the EFTA States and Canada, which had been suspended for some time, were resumed last autumn. Since then considerable progress has been thanks to the intensive work carried out by the delegations of both countries. The Federal Department of Economic Affairs anticipates that these negotiations will be able to be concluded in the near future. The Agreement should offer Swiss industries (incl. the food industry) duty-free access to the large Canadian market and provide an institutional basis to further improve bilateral economic relations in future negotiations.
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