Agreement on Free Trade and Economic Partnership between Switzerland and Japan (FTEPA)
The FTEPA establishes a comprehensive economic partnership between Switzerland and Japan. It contains substantive provisions on trade in goods referring to the liberalisation of trade in industrial products as well as selected processed and basic agricultural products, rules of origin, custom procedures, trade facilitations and provisions relating to non-tariff barriers.
Other provisions relate to the trade in services, the movement of natural persons for business purposes, the establishment and protection of investments, the protection of intellectual property, the promotion and facilitation of electronic commerce, provisions in the field of competition and the promotion of a closer economic relationship.
The agreement came into force on 1st September 2009 after the signature on 19th February 2009. Economically, this is the most important free trade agreement (FTA) signed by Switzerland since the 1972 FTA between Switzerland and the European Community (EC). On the basis of the Customs Union Treaty of 1923 between Switzerland the Principality of Liechtenstein, the provisions on trade in goods of the FTEPA also apply to the territory of Liechtenstein.
Trade in Goods
Almost all tariffs on industrial goods are dismantled. For a small number of industrial products, the Japanese tariffs are dismantled after a transitional period. Regarding agricultural products, Switzerland and Japan will grant each other tariff concessions on a selected range of basic and processed agricultural products. Japan will grant Switzerland preferential market access in particular for Swiss cheese specialities, dried meat, chocolate, wine and cigarettes. Switzerland will grant Japan preferential market access inter alia for ornamental plants “Bonsai”, high quality gift fruits, Sake (rice wine) and cigarettes. The savings for Swiss exporters can be estimated at around CHF 100 million per year.
Trade in services
Provisions in this area are built on the WTO services agreement (GATS) and include a number of “GATS-plus” elements in certain areas. Annexes on financial services, telecommunication services, disciplines on domestic regulation in services, and the recognition of qualifications of service suppliers contain additional sector-specific provisions that go beyond the GATS level. Exceptions to the principles of market access, national treatment and most-favoured nation (MFN) treatment are inscribed following a so-called “negative list” approach.
The FTEPA contains, inter alia, provisions improving the protection of copyrights, trademarks, designs, patents, new plant varieties, geographical indications, confidential test data, as well as in respect of unfair competition. In addition, the FTEPA contains provisions on the enforcement of intellectual property rights.
The FTEPA is Switzerland’s first FTA to include specific provisions on trade in electronic products and services, digital signatures and the protection of online consumers. The chapter also includes obligations regarding digital products, electronic certificates and electronic signatures.
The complete legal framework and the text of the FTEPA can be found here.