Japan, Switzerland sign EPA, paving the way for tariff-free trade

Kyodo News

Japan and Switzerland signed a free-trade agreement Thursday, paving the way for the two to eliminate tariffs on more than 99 percent of their trade in value terms over the next 10 years.

The agreement, signed by Foreign Minister Hirofumi Nakasone and Swiss Economy Minister Doris Leuthard in Tokyo, will take effect by the end of this year if the two countries complete the domestic ratification procedures as scheduled, Japanese officials said.

It is the 11th free-trade agreement signed by Japan, which has reached similar accords with Chile, Mexico, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

The latest deal, Japan’s first in Europe, is officially called an economic partnership agreement. The EPA will cover cooperation in investment and services, in addition to trade in goods.

Among Japan’s EPAs, the accord with Switzerland contains the most advanced customs procedures, allowing approved exporters to issue certificates of origin, and for the first time includes a set of provisions governing electronic commerce, the officials said.

Japan expects the economic partnership agreement to expand exports of automobiles and household electrical appliances to Switzerland, while Switzerland is hoping to secure greater access for products such as instant coffee, aromatherapy oils, cheese and chocolate.