An interesting announcement from The Federal Council in Switzerland as posted on their website:
Federal Council lays the foundation for future economic and trade relations with the United Kingdom
Bern, 14.12.2018 – At its meeting on 14 December the Federal Council approved the text of a trade agreement with the UK aiming to maintain existing economic and trade relations with the country after its departure from the European Union. The conclusion of this agreement forms part of the Federal Council’s ‘Mind the Gap’ strategy.
The United Kingdom is set to leave the European Union on 29 March next year. At present relations between Switzerland and the UK are largely based 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 (CHF 11.4 billion) and its eighth largest supplier (CHF 6.1 billion of imports).
In October 2016 the Federal Council adopted the ‘Mind the Gap’ strategy aimed at guaranteeing as far as possible the mutual rights and obligations in all areas that currently link Switzerland and the UK. At its meeting on 14 December, the Federal Council approved the text of a trade agreement with the UK which could serve as a basis for future economic and trade relations. 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.
If the transition period between the EU and the UK comes into effect on 29 March next year, the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU will continue to apply between Switzerland and the UK. Under this scenario, the text of the agreement approved by the Federal Council will serve as a basis for economic and trade relations between Switzerland and the UK after the transition period expires on 31 December 2020 (or at a later date agreed between the UK and the EU), until such time as new trade agreements can be concluded between the parties.
However, there is a possibility that the UK may leave the EU in a disorderly manner (‘No deal’ scenario) on 29 March next year, and that no transition period would not come into effect. In that event, the text of the agreement approved by the Federal Council makes it possible to replicate in substance the vast majority of trade agreements that currently regulate relations between Switzerland and the UK. If the relevant parliamentary committees, which will be consulted early next year, approve the agreement, it could be signed and be applied from the date on which the UK leaves the EU.
What is particularly interesting is that serious trading partners who appear to be galvanised by business rather than politics appear to realise that even in the case of a no deal Brexit it’s still very important to be able to trade with the UK irrespective of the political games. The agreement requires Swiss Parliamentary approval and demonstrates if there is a will there is a way to put contingency plans in place to avoid major disruption.
The information in this blog is for general information purposes only and does not purport to be comprehensive or to provide legal advice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure the information and law is current as of the date of publication it should be stressed that, due to the passage of time, this does not necessarily reflect the present legal position. Gherson accepts no responsibility for loss which may arise from accessing or reliance on information contained in this blog. For formal advice on the current law please don’t hesitate to contact Gherson. Legal advice is only provided pursuant to a written agreement, identified as such, and signed by the client and by or on behalf of Gherson.