Close-up on Swiss-U.S. business relations

Three questions for Tara Feret Erath, deputy head of mission of the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland, on the development of business relations between the U.S. and Switzerland. She will be part of the keynote speech at the Exporter demain! 2018, organized by Switzerland Global Enterprise and taking place on October 30 at the SwissTech Convention Center in Ecublens, to discuss the future of trade relations between Switzerland and the U.S.

Tara Feret Erath, deputy head of mission of the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland
Tara Feret Erath, deputy head of mission of the U.S. Embassy in Switzerland

Tara Feret Erath, what will be the impact of increased tariffs on steel, aluminum, and potentially also other products, on trade between Switzerland and the United States?
The President’s statements reflect important national security and overcapacity concerns; these are the reasons for such measures. On April 30, the President extended the temporary exemption for the EU and several other countries to May 31, to give countries time to propose alternatives to tariffs on steel and aluminum. Discussions with the EU, Canada and Mexico were unsuccessful; therefore these countries will be subject to tariffs on imports of steel (25%) and aluminum (10%) from June 1.
According to government officials, tariffs are used as a tool to correct the serious trade imbalances that have damaged the United States. U.S. customs duties have been considerably lower than tariffs applied to U.S. merchandise exports to major trading partners. It should be emphasized that among major trading partners there is a broad consensus regarding the need to address global trade imbalances. In Paris on May 31, U.S. trade representative, Lighthizer, EU trade commissioner, Malmström, and Japanese trade minister, Seko, issued a joint statement expressing concerns over non-market oriented third country policies and measures that could be taken in the near future.
Several countries have benefitted from permanent tariff exemptions on steel and aluminum (South Korea, Australia, Brazil, Argentina). These countries have proposed and negotiated acceptable alternatives to remedy the global overcapacity in the steel and aluminum sectors. Swiss manufacturers in the United States may apply for product-specific exemptions from the Department of Commerce for specialty steels and aluminum. Requests for product-specific exemptions will be made available for public comment. Decisions will be made within 90 days.

To what extent will corporate tax cuts make the United States more attractive to Swiss investors?
The United States has adopted strong economic growth policies, including a new low corporate tax rate and drastic regulatory cuts. The U.S. corporate tax rate has been reduced from 35% to 21%. Businesses will receive $1.8 trillion in tax cuts, which will boost economic growth and generate more revenue. More than 500 companies have stated that the law will have a favorable impact on them. Consequences: more than 5.5 million U.S. workers receive bonuses, raises and other benefits. Since his election, President Trump’s focus on stimulating economic growth has forced unemployment rates to historically low levels.

Is the tough immigration policy making it more difficult for companies to expand their operations in the United States?
Recent changes to U.S. immigration policy are not having any impact on Swiss companies who want to start or expand their businesses in the United States. The U.S. embassy in Berne has opened an email account to provide information on investor visas. The address is:
The United States aims to improve border security and adopt immigration policies based on the rule of law.

Exporter demain!

Be part of the largest annual meeting of West Switzerland’s export economy. You can draw on the concentrated expertise of 250 participating SMEs and globalization experts. Take the opportunity to calibrate your export ideas and strategies with our S-GE country consultants, experts from all over the world and globalization specialists. Learn from experienced Swiss SMEs and their success stories in the area of tension between globalization and protectionism.


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