Switzerland has close trade relations with the United Kingdom; last year the UK was the fifth most important export market for Swiss goods (CHF 11.4bn) and the eighth largest market of origin for imports (CHF 6.4bn). The bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU form the basis for these relations. As part of the Federal Council’s ‘Mind the gap’ strategy the aim is to reach a follow-up arrangement for the time after Brexit as swiftly as possible, particularly on trade. Liam Fox reiterated that this was also in the UK’s interests and that reaching such an arrangement with Switzerland was a priority.
The Treaty on European Union provides for a period of two years to complete negotiations on withdrawal from the EU. The timeframe to prepare a follow-up regime for relations between Switzerland and the UK – which if possible should be more extensive than usual free trade relationships – is therefore tight. Talks are currently under way at expert level.
Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann and Secretary of State Liam Fox agreed to meet on a regular basis. They wish to ensure that swift progress is made and closely monitor technical talks at political level.
The UK is also an important partner for Switzerland in the field of agriculture. Last year trade in agricultural goods amounted to CHF 700 million. The aim of the meeting with Andrea Leadsom, the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, was therefore to discuss follow-up arrangements in the field of agriculture.
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