Switzerland signs free trade deal with Mexico
The Swiss economics minister, Pascal Couchepin, has signed a free trade pact with Mexico on behalf of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).
The deal, signed in Mexico City on Monday, will remove most tariffs between EFTA and Mexico by 2007, giving Switzerland the same trade privileges as the United States and the European Union.
Couchepin signed the document along with the outgoing Mexican president, Ernesto Zedillo.
Zedillo said the accord - one of many signed by Mexico - was in the country's best interests because "It makes us the only country in the world that, at the beginning of the 20th century can present 90 per cent of its products in important markets with preferential treatment".
The deal is expected to save Swiss companies around SFr100 million ($55 million) in import duties.
Couchepin signed the deal at the end of a six-day tour of Latin America during which he clinched trade deals with Chile and Argentina.
The tour has been hailed as an encouraging sign that EFTA - which comprises Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein -is still an effective economic body.
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