The FINANCIAL — Since their last review in 2004, the economies of Switzerland and Liechtenstein have grown on average by 2,7% per year for Switzerland and 2,2% for Liechtenstein, led by exports and private consumption, according to a WTO Secretariat joint report on the trade policies and practices of both countries.
External trade (including access to foreign markets) is central to both economies; their ratios of external trade to GDP exceed 100%.
Switzerland and Liechtenstein have pursued the liberalization of their trade regimes through multilateral, regional, and bilateral agreements. At the bilateral level, priority has been given to trade liberalization with the EC, that has led to a continued process of harmonizing their trade policy instruments with those of the EC. But the WTO Secretariat report also indicates that participation in various preferential trade agreements makes their trade regimes somewhat complex.
The reform of the Cartel Act strengthened the Swiss competition regime. Nevertheless, competition remains somewhat limited in areas such as agriculture, health care, and public transport, contributing to higher prices. Further reforms, including the planned elimination of subsidies for basic agricultural products, and increased competition through, inter alia, reduction or elimination of tariffs, mainly for agricultural products, would benefit consumers and improve resource allocation.
The WTO report, along with a policy statement by the Governments of Switzerland and Liechtenstein, will be the basis for the third joint TPR of Switzerland and Liechtenstein by the Trade Policy Review Body of the WTO on 15 and 17 December 2008.