The highly specialised Swiss textile industry relies heavily on imports of input and intermediary materials for its production. Their procurement abroad is still burdened with considerably higher customs duties in comparison to input materials for other industries. This makes the finished products more expensive. The high duty rates originally set to protect the domestic textile industry are now having a detrimental effect.
If the interests of the Swiss economy so require, the Federal Council may, on the basis of the Customs Tariff Act, order the temporary suspension of customs duties applicable to certain goods. As early as 1 January 2016, the Federal Council had temporarily reduced the customs duties under 60 tariff headings to CHF 0. The current measure extends the existing tariff suspension and extends its scope to a total of 522 tariff headings. The Federal Council is thus responding to a request from Swiss Textiles (Swiss textile association) to suspend customs duties on all textile input and intermediary materials.
The duty suspension will lead to lower customs revenues of around CHF 3 million per year. However, positive effects on the economy as a whole can be expected from the fiscal relief in the textile sector. The thrust of the measure is also in line with the Federal Council's aim of abolishing industrial tariffs.