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Switzerland And Japan To Launch Free Trade Talks

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

12 March 2007


The Swiss Federal Council has approved a mandate for negotiations on a comprehensive economic partnership and free trade agreement between Switzerland and Japan.

The Swiss government announced last week that negotiations would commence as soon as possible and be concluded next year. This agreement would be the first free trade agreement between Japan and a European partner.

According to the mandate approved by the Federal Council, Switzerland's aim in concluding a comprehensive economic partnership and free trade agreement is to put in place a stable framework with as few hindrances as possible and create additional incentives for economic exchanges with Japan, the world's second largest economy. The agreement is intended to enhance bilateral economic relations on a broad basis (trade in goods, services, investment and protection of intellectual property) and strengthen the competitiveness of firms in both countries.

Ambassador Luzius Wasescha, who takes over as head of the Swiss Mission to the WTO and EFTA in Geneva from 1 April, will lead the Swiss delegation and act as chief negotiator.

Japan is Switzerland's third most important trade partner after the European Union and the US. Swiss exports of goods to Japan in 2006 were valued at CHF6.7 billion (US$5.6 billion), and imports from Japan at CHF3.1 billion. In terms of services, Japanese statistics for 2005 show exports to Japan of CHF6.3 billion and imports from Japan of CHF2.7 billion. As of the end of 2005, Swiss direct investment in Japan was valued at CHF7.7 billion, that of Japanese direct investment in Switzerland at CHF1.1 billion.


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