UK targets services boost as Swiss trade talks begin
LONDON (Reuters) - Britain and Switzerland will begin talks on an upgraded free trade agreement on Monday, with British trade secretary Kemi Badenoch flying to Bern aiming to boost financial and professional services exports.
Badenoch will meet Swiss economy minister Guy Parmelin to begin negotiations over how to modernise the rollover agreement that effectively replicated the relationship the two nations had when Britain was a member of the European Union.
“As two of the world’s leading service economies, there’s a huge prize on offer to both the UK and Switzerland by updating our trading relationship to reflect the strength of our companies working in areas ranging from finance and legal to accountancy and architecture," Badenoch said in a statement.
The first round of talks begins on May 22.
Trade between the two countries is worth almost 53 billion pounds ($66.9 billion) a year, making Switzerland Britain's tenth-largest trade partner, the British government said.
The current agreement does not cover services or digital trade - areas in which Britain believes it has a strategic advantage thanks to its well-developed financial sector and internationally recognised legal system.
Britain is also seeking to ensure easy cross-border movement for business travellers, increased private sector investment and the removal of remaining Swiss tariffs on British goods such as red meat, baked goods and chocolate, Badenoch's department said in the statement.
($1 = 0.7923 pounds)
(Reporting by William James; Editing by David Goodman)