by Ulrika Lomas, Tax-News.com, Brussels
21 December 2018
The Swiss Federal Council has approved the text of a trade agreement with the UK that aims to maintain existing economic and trade relations after Brexit.
At present, relations between Switzerland and the UK are largely based on the bilateral agreements Switzerland has with the EU.
The text approved by the Federal Council could serve as a basis for future economic and trade relations between Switzerland and the UK. It guarantees, as far as possible, the continuation of the economic and commercial rights and obligations arising from the agreements between Switzerland and the EU. It also provides for exploratory discussions aimed at developing these bilateral relations in the future.
The Swiss Federal Council said that if the transition period agreed between the UK and the EU comes into effect, as proposed, on March 29, 2019, the bilateral agreements between Switzerland and the EU would continue to apply between Switzerland and the UK. The text of the agreement approved by the Federal Council would then serve as a basis for economic and trade relations between Switzerland and the UK after the transition period expires on December 31, 2020, until such time as new trade agreements can be concluded.
However, the Federal Council said that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the text of the agreement would make it possible to replicate in substance the majority of trade agreements that currently regulate relations between Switzerland and the UK.
If the relevant Swiss parliamentary committees approve the agreement, it could be signed and be applied from the date on which the UK leaves the EU.