Federal Councillor Schneider-Ammann travels to Washington

Bern, 29.11.2018 - On 3 December, Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann will hold talks in Washington on trade relations and a potential free trade agreement between Switzerland and the USA, and sign an agreement on vocational education and training. Meetings are planned with US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

Switzerland and the USA have pursued an intensive dialogue on vocational education and training (VET) for several years. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), which is due to be signed by Mr Schneider-Ammann and his American counterparts in Washington on Monday, will reaffirm the will of the two countries to continue this cooperation. The MoU provides a framework for a practical exchange of information on VET-related topics between the two countries, and will be concluded between the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research EAER and the US departments of labor, of education and of trade. The MoU will be valid for three years, as was the first VET declaration of intent signed in 2015.

Given the importance and the potential of the US market, Switzerland aims to strengthen trade relations with the USA. Exploratory talks are currently taking place between Switzerland and the USA to explore the possibilities of a bilateral free trade agreement.

Mr Schneider-Ammann will use his trip to the USA to exchange views with cabinet and congress members and representatives of local Swiss companies on strengthening trade relations, on the possibilities of a free trade agreement between Switzerland and the USA, and on VET.

The United States is Switzerland’s second largest trade partner and Switzerland is an important investor in the USA. The bilateral trade volume, including goods and services, amounts to almost CHF 120 billion. Switzerland has direct investments in the USA of over CHF 300 billion, making it the United States’ seventh largest investor nation. Trade with the USA has developed dynamically in recent years. Exports of goods have increased by around 50% in the past five years.  

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