Switzerland and China agreement in effect
China is the world's second-largest economy and an increasingly important destination for Swiss products. The free trade agreement, which took roughly three-and-a-half years to negotiate, covers a range of industries central to Switzerland, including pharmaceuticals, machinery, chemicals and watches.
"Swiss business, especially the export industry, has been keenly awaiting this day because its access to the Chinese market improves compared to that of its European competitors," Switzerland's department of economic affairs said.
The volume of trade between Switzerland and China was worth more than CHF20 billion ($22.55 billion), the economics department said. It ranked China as Switzerland's third-biggest trade partner. The European Union, which absorbs more than half of Switzerland's annual exports, was the biggest, followed by the U.S.
Trade flows between China and Switzerland have risen sharply in recent years, driven by demand for Swiss luxury items, especially watches. Sales in China--the third-largest export market for Swiss timepieces after Hong Kong and the U.S.-- are closely monitored by both watch company executives and investors as a gauge of the industry's health. ■