Switzerland and UK sign joint declaration to deepen bilateral ties

Keystone / Rob Pinney

President Ignazio Cassis and Prime Minister Boris Johnson inked an agreement to strengthen mutual cooperation in trade, finance, research and immigration.

This content was published on April 29, 2022 - 10:18

Cassis’s visit to the UK on Thursday underlined the willingness of both Switzerland and UK step out of the shadow of the European Union that had previously dictated relationship between the two countries prior to Brexit.

On Thursday morning, the two leaders signed a joint declaration that will serve as a new roadmap for bilateral relations. One major aspect of the declaration is a commitment to improving trade. The two countries agreed to kickstart discussions on a “modernised and enhanced trade agreement” this year. Switzerland is the UK's 10th largest trading partner worldwide. Conversely, the UK is Switzerland's eighth largest trading partner (excluding precious metals).

Another goal is to reach an agreement on mutual agreement on financial services by the end of the year. "We are both home to important financial centres and it is therefore imperative that we find an agreement to exchange financial services without hindrance," said Cassis during his visit. 

The two countries also agreed to sign an MoU to “deepen the UK-Swiss relationship in research, innovation and technology” with the goal of creating closer ties between researchers and businesses to stimulate start-up and spin out companies. 

Immigration rules and cooperation will also be a topic for discussions this year with progress expected in priority areas including entry, mobility of persons and labour. 

Until Britain's exit from the European Union in 2021, relations between Switzerland and London were essentially based on bilateral agreements signed with the EU. After Brexit, Switzerland negotiated seven agreements with the British government, including the air transport agreement, the trade agreement and the police cooperation agreement.

Ukraine and royal reception

Johnson and Cassis also discussed how the UK and Switzerland can maintain financial pressure on Russia. Switzerland will host the fifth Ukraine Reform Conference in Lugano in July. The meeting is organised jointly with Kyiv and will focus on the reconstruction of Ukraine. Cassis told Swiss public television RSI that the UK had committed to attending the conference. Either Prime Minister Boris Johnson will attend or he will send a high-level delegation.

Besides Boris Johnson, Cassis also met with Foreign Minister Elizabeth Truss. The Swiss president was received by Queen Elizabeth II at Windsor Palace. 

"I found her healthy, elegant and warm," he said at a press conference. “She asked me many questions about Switzerland and I congratulated her on her jubilee."

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