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Fifth joint Trade Policy Review of Switzerland and Liechtenstein in the WTO

The fifth joint review of the trade policies and practices of Switzerland and Liechtenstein took place on the 16th and 18th of May 2017. The basis for the review was a report by the WTO Secretariat and a report by the Governments of Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

For more information on the Switzerland-Liechtenstein TPR, please see https://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/tpr_e/tp455_e.htm 

  

Below is the Norwegian statement as delivered by ambassador Neple:

 

Norway, Liechtenstein and Switzerland, together with Iceland, enjoy a long-standing partnership as members of the European Free Trade Association. We cooperate closely in developing free trade relations with partners in all parts of the world as the EFTA countries negotiate free trade agreements together.

Liechtenstein and Norway are also partners in the Agreement on the European Economic Area, which extends the internal market of the European Union to the three EFTA states Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

The Secretariat’s report confirms the strong commitments of Switzerland and Liechtenstein to a rules-based multilateral trading system. This is highly appreciated in a time where globalization and free trade are being challenged and we see a worrying inclination towards introducing trade-restrictive measures.

As evidenced in the report, Switzerland and Liechtenstein’s economies are diversified and open, with low tariffs and few restrictions on trade in goods and services. Most economic sectors are open to foreign investments. This openness should be commended. Openness and transparency are important tools to facilitate trade, investments and economic development. 

Since the last TPR, both Switzerland and Liechtenstein have been affected by economic problems in the Eurozone and a strong appreciation of the Swiss franc. Both economies have proven resilient and have continued to grow. The unemployment rates remain low in both countries.

Switzerland is among the top global destinations for foreign investments and the 6th most important investment destination for the Norwegian Government’s Pension Fund Global, or more commonly known as the “Petroleum Fund”.

Tax transparency is of great importance to ensure a level playing field. In order to make the financial sector more transparent, and ensure the long-term sustainability of its financial sector, Switzerland has committed to implement the automatic exchange of information in tax matters (AEOI) standard. Joint statements on the introduction of AEOI were signed with 

Norway and other countries at the beginning of 2016. Norway also appreciates Liechtenstein’s active participation in the work for transparency and exchange of tax information. 

We commend Switzerland’s leadership as a Friend of the System and appreciate the roles that Switzerland has taken on in chairing and facilitating negotiations. We appreciate our close and fruitful cooperation in the field of trade, climate and environment. Switzerland and Norway have long shared a common interest in the general work on environment in the WTO, as mentioned earlier by the State Secretary, in the negotiations on the Environmental Goods Agreement and the important work to reduce harmful fossil fuels subsidies. We also appreciate our cooperation with Switzerland in the negotiations on fisheries subsidies to implement SDG 14.6 in the WTO.

While the Swiss and Liechtenstein economies for the most part are very open, there are areas that are more restricted. Both Switzerland and Liechtenstein attach importance to non-trade concerns in agriculture, which are understood and shared by Norway. We cooperate closely within the G10 and our positions are well known.

Norway attaches great importance to our close cooperation with Switzerland and Liechtenstein in the WTO and the commitment of both countries to safeguarding the existing architecture of the multilateral trading system as well as contributing to its further development. Together we can contribute to strengthen the global commitment to fight protectionism and develop the WTO of the future. We look forward to continue conversations and working together to bring issues forward in the WTO, as we move towards Buenos Aires and beyond.

Thank you.