Switzerland sees free-trade pact with China in July

Reuters News
Posted: May 24, 2013 12:27 PM
Switzerland sees free-trade pact with China in July

ZURICH (Reuters) - The Swiss government said on Friday it hopes to sign a free-trade agreement (FTA) with China that would be the first such deal of its kind between Beijing and continental Europe when Switzerland's economy minister visits China in July.

"I hope we can sign our FTA at the occasion of my confirmed visit to Beijing in mid-July," Johann Schneider Ammann during a visit by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

Schneider-Ammann did not give further details on the content of the agreement.

He said once the agreement was signed, both sides would follow procedures leading to ratification as soon as possible. Both chambers of the Swiss parliament have to approve the FTA.

China is Switzerland's third biggest trading partner after the European Union and the United States, and the pact covers industrial goods as well as agriculture.

It is expected to particularly benefit the alpine country's watchmakers, notably Swatch Group and Richemont, whose timepieces are popular with Chinese consumers.

In April, Iceland became the first European country to sign an FTA with China.

(Reporting by Silke Koltrowitz; Editing by Michael Roddy)