Switzerland and China today signed a free trade agreement in Beijing amidst continued trade tensions between the European Union and the Asian economic giant.
Swiss economy minister Johann Schneider-Ammann and Chinese commerce minister Gao Hucheng saigned the agreement at China's ministry of commerce in Beijing today.
The two countries had signed a memorandum of understanding on a free trade agreement a few days ago.
The Swiss government is seeking to update and extend a series of older free trade agreements, including those with Turkey, Canada, South Korea and Mexico, state secretary for economic affairs Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch said in Istanbul.
China had in April signed a free trade agreement with Iceland, its first with a European economy. Iceland, however, is a non-EU country.
The free-trade agreement with Switzerland is a comprehensive and mutually beneficial pact that would contribute to increased trade between the two economies, Xinhua quoted Gao as saying.
Bilateral trade between China and Switzerland reached $26.31 billion in 2012 and has already surged to $22.89 billion in the first five months of this year, the agency said.
The signing of the free-trade agreement comes days after the Chinese government formally began an investigation into allegations of Europe dumping its wine in China amidst continued trade tensions with the European Union.
The Swiss government is seeking to update and extend the state secretary for economic affairs Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch had announced a few days after a memorandum of understanding on a similar accord was signed with China.
Meanwhile, speaking in Istanbul, state secretary Marie-Gabrielle Ineichen-Fleisch said Switzerland also wanted to update a series of older free trade agreements with Turkey, Canada, South Korea and Mexico to the level of those agreed with the United States and the European Union.
Ineichen-Fleisch was in Turkey to discuss improvements to a free trade agreement (FTA) signed in 1992 under the aegis of the European Free Trade Association. The FTA covers only merchandise and some sectors covered by intellectual property.