Swiss Watch Exporters Take Long View of China

by swisscham in Hospitality, Retail, Tourism

Last summer, Switzerland became the second European country to sign a free-trade agreement with China, following IcelandÕs lead. On July 1, the pact came into force. For SwitzerlandÕs watchmakers, among the drivers of the export industry, the deal is good news. The rapid growth of the Chinese economy and the penchant of its expanding middle class for western luxury goods has helped boost the value of Swiss watch exports to China from CHF45 million ($49 million) in 2000 to CHF1.45 billion in 2013. That makes China the third-largest market for Swiss timepieces, according to figures from the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH). As far as the industry is concerned, the main advantages of the deal, which took more than three years to negotiate, are a reduction in Chinese import tariffs and greater protection for intellectual property, says Jean-Daniel Pasche, president of the FH. ÒThe deal will give a clear framework for bilateral commercial relations, with concrete improvements, such as the reduction of tariffs, and greater protection of the ÔSwiss-madeÕ label in China,Ó he says. ÒThat is very positive.Ó

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