Xinhua | March 10, 2007
Swiss government approves mandate for FTA talks with Japan
The Swiss government on Friday approved a mandate for negotiations on a comprehensive economic partnership and free trade agreement (FTA) between Switzerland with Japan.
"Negotiations should commence as soon as possible and be concluded next year," the Swiss Federal Council (cabinet) said in a statement. This agreement would be the first free trade agreement between Japan and a European partner.
According to the mandate approved by the Swiss Federal Council, Switzerland’s aim "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, the statement said.
Luzius Wasescha, who takes over as head of the Swiss Mission to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Geneva from April 1, will lead the Swiss delegation and act as chief negotiator with Japan.
Japan is Switzerland’s third most important trade partner after the EU and the U.S..
Swiss exports of goods to Japan in 2006 were valued at 6.7 billion Swiss francs (about 5.6 billion U.S. dollars), and imports from Japan at 3.1 billion Swiss francs (about 2.6 billion U.S. dollars), according to government figures.
The two countries have been studying the possibilities of economic partnership and a free trade agreement since 2005.