To this end, Switzerland has entered into a series of new agreements with the UK in relation to trade, migration, road and air transport and insurance, which are contained in a bilateral trade agreement signed in Bern on 11 February 2019 by Federal Councillor Guy Parmelin and the British Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox.
The new agreement was concluded as part of the Federal Council’s ‘Mind the Gap’ strategy and will apply even if the UK leaves Europe without a treaty. It replicates the vast majority of the trade agreements with the EU that currently govern relations between Switzerland and the United Kingdom: the 1972 Free Trade Agreement, the Agreement on Public Procurement, the Agreement on the Fight against Fraud, part of the Agreement on Mutual Recognition in Relation to Conformity Assessment and the 1999 Agreement on Agriculture. These various agreements have the effect of reducing or even eliminating trade barriers and discrimination in bilateral economic exchange.
The signed agreement will come into force as soon as the Swiss/EU agreements cease to apply to relations between Switzerland and the UK. If the Brexit transition period begins as planned on 31. October 2019, the Swiss/EU agreements will continue to apply between Switzerland and the UK during this period. In this scenario, the agreement will serve as a basis for economic and trade relations between the two parties after the end of the transition period. Should the United Kingdom leave the EU on 31 October 2019 without a deal, the agreement will come into effect on a provisional basis from 31 October 2019.
As part of its ‘Mind the Gap’ strategy, the Federal Council wishes to ensure that the existing mutual rights and obligations in its relationship with the UK will continue to apply as far as possible after the UK leaves the EU, and to expand them in certain areas.
Prepared by Tiziana Zemp on behalf of Caterina Nägeli