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WTO Reviews Trade Policies of Switzerland And Liechtenstein

by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels

18 December 2008


The World Trade Organisation’s Trade Policy Review Board has released its findings on the progress made in trade policies and practices by Switzerland and Liechtenstein since their last review in 2004.

The report finds that since their last review, Switzerland has maintained a marginally higher growth average of 2.7% per year, while Liechtenstein has seen growth of 2.2% on average per year.

Switzerland and Liechtenstein have pursued the liberalization of their trade regimes through multilateral, regional, and bilateral agreements, the report stated. At the bilateral level, priority has been given to trade liberalization with the EC, which has led to a continued process of harmonizing their trade policy instruments with those of the European Community. But the WTO Secretariat report also indicates that participation in various preferential trade agreements makes their trade regimes somewhat complex.

The reform of the Cartel Act improved the potential for competition in Switzerland. Nevertheless, competition remains somewhat limited in areas such as agriculture, health care, and public transport, contributing to higher prices. Further reforms, including the planned elimination of subsidies for basic agricultural products, and increased competition through, among other things, reduction or elimination of tariffs, mainly for agricultural products, would benefit consumers and improve resource allocation, the report noted.

The WTO report, along with a policy statement by the governments of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, will be the basis for the third joint Trade Policy Review of Switzerland and Liechtenstein by the WTO on December 15 and 16, 2008.


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