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The 1972 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Switzerland and the European Union created a free trade zone for industrial products between the two parties to the Agreement. Protocol No. 3 of the Agreement stipulates that industrial goods originating in the territory of the two parties are traded free of customs duty. The Agreement prohibits the setting of limits on the volume of goods that can be traded (quotas) as well as measures with the same effect such as tariff barriers. The FTA only covers industrial products mentioned in the Agreement and its annexes. Agricultural products covered by the 1999 Agricultural Agreement are excluded. Special treatment is provided for processed agricultural products such as chocolate, biscuits or coffee, which are both industrial and agricultural. These are covered by Protocol No. 2.
The Free Trade Agreement is one of the main pillars of the trade relations between Switzerland and the EU. The EU with its 28 member states is Switzerland's most important trading partner: In 2012, about 56% of Swiss exports went to the EU and 75% of all Swiss imports came from the EU. In 2012, Switzerland was the third largest market for EU products after the US and China. In the same year, it was the EU's fourth most important trading partner behind the USA, China and Russia. In these intensive relations, the trade liberalisation brought about by the FTA is of great economic importance.
Status July 2013
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