Since 2010, China has been Switzerland`s largest trading partner in Asia and the world`s third largest trading partner after the EU and the United States. A bilateral free trade agreement was signed in Beijing in 2013 and came into force on 1 July 2014. China`s concessions under the CSFTA in the area of financial services and insurance services – another important interest of Switzerland and the EU – are weak. In the area of insurance, there are no additional concessions to China`s accession protocol, although there is greater specificity in the provision of activities authorized by the Chinese branches of Swiss companies. With regard to financial services, additional concessions apply only to securities trading, allowing Swiss companies to act on behalf of qualified institutional investors (QDII) in China, provide advisory services and provide childcare abroad. Swiss companies may also hold 49 per cent of joint ventures that carry out certain trade and subcontracting activities. In line with its commitments made by MFN WTO, the maximum participation of these joint ventures is 33%. Swiss joint ventures are also allowed to be subject to information, own-account trading and asset management transactions if they obtain the required authorisation. China`s concessions in the services sector under the CSFTA were even more limited than in merchandise trade. The service plan for the Sino-Swiss agreement largely reflects the service plan of China`s WTO accession protocol (China has made major commitments to historic WTO members). The CSFTA makes only minor additional concessions. Given that the Swiss have a strong offensive interest in the services sector, particularly in the financial services sector, their lack of concessions from China is an indication of China`s reluctance to open up its services sector further.
Services are also a major offensive interest of the EU. While the EU has a large deficit in trade in goods with China, it has a surplus in services. The most common misunderstandings about free trade agreements (and how to avoid them) A large number of cultural projects were organized in 2015 to mark the 65th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries. A bilateral cultural agreement was signed in January 2017. In the same year, the Swiss-China 2017 tourism year was named. The free trade agreement includes rules of origin, customs and trade facilitation procedures, trade, technical regulations, health and plant health measures, trade in services, intellectual property protection, competition, investment promotion, transparency of public procurement, environmental and labour trade issues, economic and technical cooperation and institutional provisions (joint committee) , consultation process, dispute resolution). With such broad coverage, the free trade agreement will improve market access for Swiss exports of goods and services to the high-growth Chinese market, facilitate two-way trade, strengthen intellectual property protection, generally improve the legal security of economic exchanges, promote bilateral cooperation between Switzerland and China and contribute to sustainable development. The free trade agreement creates a competitive advantage for the Swiss economy over countries that do not have a free trade agreement with China, including the EU. China and Switzerland signed a free trade agreement (CSFTA) in 2013 after only two years of negotiations.
The agreement came into force on July 1, 2014. The speed with which the CSFTA was signed reflects political support for the agreement in both countries. Switzerland, a neutral nation, one of the countries least affected by China`s security, has sought to gain access to the Chinese market and establish its presence before the EU. China saw Switzerland as a gateway to Europe and saw the trade deal as an important test that could weaken the EU`s traditional reluctance to negotiate with China.