# 1 / 2022

Switzerland and the United Kingdom: joint efforts for a prosperous future

Brexit has presented the Swiss economy with a multitude of challenges. However, it has also created a valuable momentum for further deepening bilateral relations between Switzerland and the United Kingdom. The expansion of existing agreements and the conclusion of new ones, as well as stronger cooperation on important issues for the future, are associated with sustainable positive effects on the competitiveness of both countries.

Executive summary

The United Kingdom’s exit from the EU has had a noticeable impact on cross-border economic relations in Europe. Not only British and EU companies, but also Swiss businesses were confronted with tricky issues. These included in particular additional costs (e.g. customs duties), regulatory uncertainties, administrative burdens and delivery delays. This in times of a global pandemic and economic crisis. At the same time, however, it remains to be seen whether these short-term turbulences will also be reflected in a weaker economic development of the United Kingdom in the medium and longer term.

In close exchange with the business community, Swiss government has succeeded in placing Switzerland’s bilateral relations with the United Kingdom on a new contractual basis in good time. At present, the focus must be on further deepening bilateral economic relations. On the one hand, an early conclusion of the negotiations on a comprehensive financial services agreement is of great importance. On the other hand, the trade agreement should be expanded rapidly. But there is also interesting potential for cooperation beyond classical trade policy. For example, in the area of research, digitalisation, sustainability, but also within the framework of international organisations.

Positions of economiesuisse

  • Switzerland and the United Kingdom are ideal economic partners in many areas. After successfully overcoming numerous Brexit challenges, bilateral economic relations should now be comprehensively deepened.
  • Based on the principle of mutual recognition of national regulatory requirements, a comprehensive financial services agreement is intended to further strengthen the international competitiveness of the British and Swiss financial centres.
  • The bilateral trade agreement primarily safeguards what has already been achieved so far. But only with comprehensive deepening (including digital trade, customs procedures, regulatory cooperation) can it strengthen British and Swiss companies in international competition in the medium and long term.
  • Switzerland and the United Kingdom also have much potential for cooperation beyond trade policy. Cooperation should therefore be intensified on important topics of the future (e.g. digitalisation), but also within sustainability, research or in the context of international organisations.
  • Promising bilateral relations require mutual trust and close networking between government and business. The newly launched bilateral ‘Trade and Investment Council’ under the leadership of economiesuisse and the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) will strengthen this exchange in the long term.

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