During a visit to Switzerland by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on May 24, China and Switzerland signed the framework for a free-trade agreement, which would be the first free-trade deal signed between China and a major Western economy. Bilateral trade between the two countries is worth $26 billion and consists mostly of watches, medicine, textiles, and dairy products, according to BBC News. To be ratified, the agreement must be cleared by both chambers of the Swiss parliament.
“This free-trade deal is the first between China and a continental European economy, and the first with one of the 20 leading economies of the globe,” Li said at the signing ceremony. “This has huge meaning for global free-trade.”
China has hinted that if allows offshore trading of the yuan it could make Switzerland its financial center, and Swiss watch makers hope to see Chinese duties of 16 to 12 percent on watches fall as a result of the deal.