January 30, 2020

Swiss Want Better EU Trade Ties Despite Looming Immigration Vote
(Bloomberg) -- Terms of Trade is a daily newsletter that untangles a world embroiled in trade wars. Sign up here. Switzerland, which trades goods worth 1 billion francs ($1 billion) a day with the European Union, plans to deepen economic ties with the bloc despite an upcoming vote on immigration threatens to worsen an already tense political relationship. The country of 8.5 million wants better access to the bloc’s market and to secure that needs to agree to a bilateral contract with the EU. The government reiterated on Thursday that there are still some items that need to be worked out before Bern will sign up to the deal: protection of high Swiss wages, clarifications on state aid and the free movement of people.Switzerland’s open-door policy for EU citizens is subject to a vote on May 17 brought by the anti-immigrant Swiss People’s Party, or SVP. It is by far the strongest party in the national parliament and has two ministers in the seven-person cabinet.An approval of the immigration curbs proposed by the SVP is likely to anger Brussels and delay improvements to market access for Switzerland.While the Swiss economy is expanding and unemployment is low, the SVP argues that the negative consequences of “excessive immigration” are evident in traffic jams, crowded trains, pressure on salaries and a housing shortage.Relations with the EU worsened as a result of an SVP bid in 2014 to curb immigration and also suffered when the Swiss declined to sign on to the new bilateral contract. The European Commission unsuccessfully tried last summer to bring the Swiss to heel by banning trading in Swiss shares within the bloc.To contact the reporter on this story: Jan Dahinten in Zurich at jdahinten@bloomberg.netTo contact the editors responsible for this story: Jan Dahinten at jdahinten@bloomberg.net, Catherine Bosley, Dylan GriffithsFor more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.comSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
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