Former US Vice President Mike Pence has spoken in favour of a free-trade agreement (FTA) between the United States and Switzerland. The idea of reviving FTA talks has been rumbling on for several years.
“If the Trump administration had been able to stay for another four years, this free-trade deal could have been concluded,” Pence told the Swiss Economic Forum in the mountain resort of Interlaken on Thursday.
“I will continue to use my influence to see this agreement finalised.”
He said economic relations between Switzerland and the US were good and had improved under the presidency of Donald Trump.
The idea of kickstarting negotiations for a free-trade agreement with the US has been around for several years. But efforts to revive an FTA, following the collapse of a previous attempt in 2006, have so far made very slow progress.
Former Swiss Economics Minister Johann Schneider-Ammann first mooted the idea of reviving FTA talks in 2018. But initial efforts yielded little joy.
At the World Economic Forum in Davos in January 2020, Trump raised hopes when he told the then Swiss President Simonetta Sommaruga that he wanted an FTA with Switzerland. But this turned to disappointment as American priorities shifted elsewhere: to China, Canada, Mexico, and the European Union.
At the start of Joe Biden’s presidency in January 2021, Jacques Pitteloud, the Swiss ambassador to the United States, expressed scepticism about the possibility of securing an FTA deal.
“The new administration around Joe Biden will certainly have to deal with other problems first,” he said. “Had Donald Trump been given a second term as US president, Switzerland might have had a slightly better chance for a free-trade agreement,” he said.
The US is Switzerland’s second-biggest trading partner after the European Union.
Source: Swiss Info