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Switzerland Cuts Tariffs For Developing Nations

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

09 April 2007


The Swiss Federal Council has adopted a revised Preferential Tariffs Ordinance allowing developing countries to continue to benefit from reductions on existing duties for goods imports. In addition, the poorest countries will be able to import their goods into Switzerland free of customs duties and quotas.

Under the revised Preferential Tariffs Ordinance, which entered into force in April 1, 2007, the complete lifting of duties and quota restrictions also applies to countries that are in the debt relief process as part of the international debt relief initiative.

Switzerland is among the first countries to completely implement the undertaking to give duty-free and quota-free market access for the poorest countries made at the WTO Ministerial Conference in Hong Kong in 2005. At the same time, Switzerland is also implementing the last stage of the "zero duty initiative" adopted by the Federal Council in 2001 and which envisages a progressive introduction of duty-free market access for the poorest countries.

Strengthening the competitiveness of developing countries is part of Switzerland's foreign economic strategy. Its aim is to ensure that Swiss business is able to benefit from the economic advantages generated by the international division of labour in an environment with stable and appropriate conditions.

The Swiss government says that the facilitation of market access for products from these countries is an important contribution to the promotion of trade, the raising of export revenues and consequently to the economic expansion of the developing countries. In order for these countries to be able to make use of this offer of duty-free market access, the Economic Cooperation and Development Division of the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) supports targeted local trade development programmes.


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