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US And Switzerland Open Trade Dialogue

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

29 January 2007

A joint US-Switzerland panel discussion on the theme 'The challenges confronting world trade liberalization' took place last week as part of the World Economic Forum (WEF) program in Davos.

The panel was organised jointly by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), the US Embassy in Switzerland, economiesuisse (the Swiss Business Federation) and the Swiss-American Chamber of Commerce.

Doris Leuthard, Swiss Federal Councillor and Head of the Department of Economic Affairs, and Susan Schwab, United States Trade Representative, provided government perspectives during the discussion. Corporate viewpoints were represented by Frederick Smith, Chairman, President and CEO of FedEx Corporation and Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, Chairman and CEO of Nestle.

Panellists addressed several key issues raised by the suspension of the Doha Round and discussed how to proceed further. They also highlighted the growing role of bilateral and regional agreements and the impact of these agreements on the multilateral trade agenda. Private sector panellists discussed their priorities and concerns in the trade area, as well as their expectations for the future.

The US-Switzerland Joint Economic Commission (JEC) is designed to promote cooperation among government and business leaders from both countries, with the aim of promoting stability in the global economy and strengthening the two countries' political dialogue and economic partnership.

The JEC was born out of the ruins of collapsed bilateral free trade talks between Bern and Washington last year, which hit the buffers after seven months of intensive negotiations, agriculture proving to be the major stumbling block to a US-Swiss free trade agreement.

According to the Swiss, both governments remain interested in reaching comprehensive free trade agreement and may resume discussions at a later stage.

Two-way goods trade between the United States and Switzerland was $23.7 billion in 2005.

US goods exports to Switzerland in 2005 totaled $10.7 billion, including pharmaceutical products, machinery, and optic and medical instruments. Two-way goods trade in services was $17.6 billion, and foreign direct investment was $223.6 billion.

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