Survey: The benefits of the free-trade agreement with China

More than 800 Swiss companies are now active in China. To deepen trade relations, a free trade agreement has existed between the two countries since 2014. The effects of the agreement are now up for re-evaluation.

China has become one of the most important trading partners for Swiss companies
China has become one of the most important trading partners for Swiss companies

The free trade agreement between Switzerland and China ensures a better framework for trade. In more than 95% of cases, customs tariffs cease to apply or can at least be significantly reduced. At the same time, it creates transparency for both countries and contributes to improving legal certainty. Fabio Müller from the Swiss Business Hub in Shanghai is convinced that since Switzerland was the first country in continental Europe to enter into such an agreement with China, Swiss companies enjoy benefits:

“It will take a while for an FTA to establish itself. Yet Swiss companies are now a few steps ahead of their competitors.”

To find out how far ahead Swiss companies are and what benefits the free trade agreement actually offers, the Swiss Chamber of Commerce in China is conducting a survey together with S-GE’s Swiss Business Hub. In addition to the benefits, the aim is to identify which areas show room for improvement and where further efforts are required in the opinion of the companies.
This is the second survey on the free trade agreement between Switzerland and China to be conducted since 2015. It was already indicated back then that the agreement could make a significant contribution to the growth of trade.

A challenging market with great potential

Above all, large companies (such as Nestlé, Novartis and ABB) have already been able to establish themselves well in the Chinese market. They have been doing business successfully in China for many years, and have adapted to the local market. For Swiss SMEs, China can be a challenge, in that the market situation and regulations can change at very short notice. Long-term planning is virtually impossible.
Nevertheless, Swiss SMEs have great potential in China: High-tech innovations are in demand in a variety of industries, for instance in the precision machinery, pharmaceutical and chemical product, medical device or cleantech solution sectors.

If you are interested in establishing business contacts in China or need more information on the free trade agreement, please contact our China consultant Daniel Bont, the Swiss Business Hub China or take part in a country consultation. We will support you with our expertise and network.

Longstanding relationships

The economic cooperation between China and Switzerland has developed and intensified over many years. Diplomatic relations were first established in 1950 shortly after the founding of the People's Republic. In 1980, the Swiss Schindler Group founded the “China Schindler Elevator Co.”, the first joint venture in China. In 2007, Switzerland and China signed a declaration of intent with the aim of deepening the relations. Finally, the free trade agreement was signed in 2014.

Important information about China and the Chinese market is available here.


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