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On 30 October 2020, the Swiss Federal Council announced that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) concluded between the states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) and Ecuador enters into force on 1 November. To that end, on 18 September, the Federal Council adopted the necessary amendments to the ordinances implementing the customs duty concessions set out in the agreement. This modern agreement will help to boost trade relations between the EFTA states and Ecuador.

The Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) concluded between the EFTA member states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and Ecuador enables Switzerland to strengthen its economic and trade relations with this partner. It improves market access and legal certainty for the Swiss export industry on a broad basis, and corresponds largely to the agreements recently concluded by the EFTA member states with third countries. The agreement also counters discriminations on the Ecuadorian market unfavourable to Switzerland that could result, inter alia, from the trade agreement between the European Union and Ecuador.

Agreement with far-reaching scope

The CEPA concluded between the EFTA states and Ecuador is wide ranging. It covers trade in industrial, fishing and other sea products, processed and basic agricultural products, technical barriers to trade including sanitary and phytosanitary measures, rules of origin, trade facilitation, trade in services, investment, intellectual property protection, competition, government procurement, settlement of disputes, as well as trade and sustainable development.

Eliminating customs duties in bilateral trade

Under the CEPA customs duties on most bilateral trade with Ecuador will be completely or partially eliminated and trade will be promoted. Customs duties on 60 per cent of industrial products exported to Ecuador will be eliminated immediately when the agreement enters into force. For the remainder of these products, transitional periods are provided for and customs duties will be abolished for more than 99 per cent of Swiss industrial products exported to Ecuador after ten years at the latest. Switzerland will also benefit from tariff concessions on specific processed and unprocessed agricultural products of interest. In particular, Switzerland will benefit from an annual duty-free tariff quota for cheese as soon as the agreement enters into force.

The agreement was signed by the partner states on 25 June 2018 and approved by Parliament in June 2019.