AFX News Limited | 03.14.08
Switzerland to negotiate agriculture free trade agreement with EU
GENEVA (Thomson Financial) — The Swiss government on Friday said it will negotiate a free-trade agreement on agricultural products and food with the European Union in a bid to increase competition in the sector.
No timeline has been set for opening discussions with Brussels.
A free-trade agreement would allow the elimination of both tariff and non-tariff barriers, the government said in a statement.
It said, however, that free trade would have to be introduced on ’a step-by-step basis together with accompanying support measures to provide a buffer against the impact of this market restructuring’.
The Swiss agricultural industry is protected by some of the highest tariffs in the world, reaching an average of 44 pct against 15 pct in the EU.
The most protected sector — milk products — benefits from tariffs reaching some 160 pct, against 54 pct in the EU.