China-Switzerland FTA to benefit both sides
Updated: 2013-05-25 21:35
BEIJING - China and Switzerland on Friday announced the completion of talks concerning a new free trade agreement (FTA), the first to be signed between Beijing and continental Europe.
A memorandum of understanding was signed during a meeting between visiting Premier Li Keqiang and Swiss President Ueli Maurer. The two sides also announced the establishment of a financial dialogue mechanism. However, they did not reveal when the FTA will be finally signed and put into place.
Xu Tiebing, an associate professor of international studies at the Communication University of China, said in a Friday report by the Beijing News that the FTA will benefit both sides.
Swiss financial businesses, including banks, will enjoy more advantages in obtaining permission to enter China, while China will be able to enter European markets more effectively by building corporate branches or joint ventures, Xu said.
Under the future FTA framework, Switzerland may help reduce trade barriers set by the EU against China, Xu said.
Cui Hongjian, director of European studies at the China Institute of International Studies, said the FTA negotiations have set an example for future negotiations between China and other European nations.
Swiss companies in China have also been encouraged by the success of the negotiations.
Marco Cairoli, deputy president of Shanghai Roche Pharmaceuticals Ltd., a joint venture of Swiss drugmaker Roche Group, said the FTA will be very important, adding that he hopes it will go into effect as soon as possible.
Li said in a signed article published Thursday in Neue Zuricher Zeitung, a German-language Swiss daily, that with the advent of FTA, Switzerland will become the first country in continental Europe and the first of the world's top 20 economies to sign an FTA with China, adding that the implications will be significant.
He said the FTA has demonstrated that China is firmly committed to upholding multilateral trade, vigorously promoting regional trade liberalization and accelerating the implementation of its FTA strategy.
"A high-quality FTA agreement between China and Switzerland will also set a good example. It will not only upgrade our business and investment cooperation, but also send a powerful message to the rest of the world that we reject trade and investment protectionism and instead embrace trade liberalization and facilitation," the article said.
Statistics indicate that two-way trade between China and Switzerland exceeded $30 billion in 2011, a record rise of 50 percent compared with that of 2010. Despite the persistent eurozone sovereign debt crisis and uncertainties in the world economy, bilateral trade volume remained as high as $26.3 billion last year.
China is Switzerland's third-largest trading partner behind the EU and the United States, while Switzerland is China's seventh-largest trading partner in Europe.