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Switzerland agrees to trade deal with post-Brexit UK

Staff Writer |
The Swiss government said that it had approved the text of a trade agreement with Britain, aiming to maintain existing economic and trade relations with the United Kingdom after it leaves the European Union (EU).

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The Federal Council, the Swiss cabinet noted that the United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union on March 29 next year and it said that it would abide by the agreement even in the event of a "no-deal Brexit" between Britain and the EU.

"This agreement guarantees, as far as possible, the continuation of the economic and commercial rights and obligations arising from the agreements between Switzerland and the EU, and provides for exploratory discussions aimed at developing these bilateral relations in the future," the government said in a statement on Friday.

It noted that current relations between Switzerland and the UK are based mainly on the bilateral agreements that exist between Switzerland and the EU, particularly on an economic and commercial level.

In 2017, the UK was Switzerland's sixth largest export market valued at 11.4 billion Swiss francs (11.44 billion U.S. dollars) and its eighth largest supplier with imports of 6.1 billion Swiss francs.

"If the transition period between the EU and Britain comes into effect on March 29 next year, the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU will continue to apply between Switzerland and Britain."

Under this scenario, the text of the agreement approved by the government will serve as a basis for economic and trade relations between Switzerland and Britain after the transition period expires on Dec. 31, 2020.

It will also apply at a later date agreed between Britain and the EU, or until the parties can reach new trade agreements.

"However, there is a possibility that the UK may leave the EU in a disorderly manner ('no deal' scenario) on March 29 next year, and that no transition period would come into effect," the Swiss government acknowledged.

In that situation, the text of the agreement approved by the government makes it possible to replicate in substance the bulk of the trade agreements that currently regulate relations between Switzerland and Britain.

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