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Last Updated:[17-08-2010 08:08:41 EDT] Zoom in Zoom out Back to Tradenews

Switzerland Prepares for a Historic FTA with China

tradenews The Swiss President Doris Leuthard's week-long visit to China is likely to make Switzerland once again a first mover from Europe to sign an FTA with China as it had established diplomatic ties 60 years ago. The Swiss Embassy to China apprised Global Times that the FTA talks were officially launched.

Leuthard, who ended a six-day working visit to China on Sunday, had said that the feasibility study which began in 2009 had covered all potential areas of trade. Sun Xiaolan, assistant to the Commerce Department of the Swiss Embassy to China said on Monday the FTA talks had officially kicked off.

Although Sun did not disclose the detail of the initial talks but confirmed that Switzerland would soon be the first European country to conclude an FTA with China, as it was with Japan in 2009. Switzerland has the distinction of becoming one of the first Western countries to establish diplomatic relations with China, today to transform itself into a major trading partner from the region.

The top Chinese legislator Wu Bangguo, while he met Leuthard had said the two nations could explore new ways to better combine Swiss technology with the Chinese market. Similarly, the Chinese Commerce Minister Chen Deming said the country had 'enormous demand' for Swiss products relating to environmental protection, energy conservation and emissions reduction.

Switzerland is China's ninth largest European trade partner, while China is Switzerland's fourth largest global trade partner. In the first half of this year, bilateral trade jumped 127 percent, and China's imports from Switzerland increased 180 percent compared to the same time last year.

According to the Ministry of Commerce, bilateral trade between China and Switzerland topped $11.3bn in 2008, and slightly dropped to $10.18bn in 2009, with $5.28bn of Swiss exports and $4.9bn imports from China.

By Jose Roy

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