We submitted our response to the consultation on 20 June 2022.
Our response urges the government to negotiate a balanced and mutually beneficial enhanced trade agreement with Switzerland.
We believe that increased bilateral trade can complement domestic supply in our respective markets and propose that all remaining tariffs should be fully liberalised by both parties within reasonable timeframes.
Read: Member briefing – NFU position for a prospective trade deal with Switzerland
Demand for British
Switzerland has a population of 8.5 million, with a GDP per capita of $86,850 (USD) compared to the UK GDP per capita of $41,059.1
It has the highest food prices in Europe with consumers willing to pay for high quality products.
Demand for meat, dairy and organic food is high, with much potential to send high value British products to benefit both counties.
Swiss consumers prefer high value products and provenance is important.
The NFU believe that ensuring protection for iconic UK GI products, must be a priority for negotiators.
The current UK-Switzerland Trade Agreement liberalises 79% of Switzerland’s tariff lines on imports from the UK. The remaining 21% of tariffs relate to agricultural products.
These tariff lines are either subject to a Tariff Rate Quota (TRQ), a partial tariff reduction, or are excluded from any tariff reduction altogether.2
Beef and lamb
Switzerland is a highly protected market, with very high tariffs on meat products. The tariff on striploin cuts is £10,944/t.
Despite this, we did manage to export over £5million worth of beef per annum during the period 2018-2021.
The opportunity to grow this further is currently limited by volume limited Swiss quotas.
It is a similar situation in the lamb and mutton sector. We exported more than £4million worth of sheepmeat during the 2018-2021 period, placing exports of fresh or chilled cuts of lamb in the top 25 products we export to Switzerland.
The in-quota duty for lamb across all fresh carcasses and cuts is £240/t (CHF300), whilst out of quota the rates are prohibitively high at over £6000/t.
The NFU believe negotiators should seek to remove all quotas and tarriffs across the beef and lamb sectors.
The NFU believe there is high potential to increase UK lamb and sheep meat exports with particular interest from Swiss buyers for high-quality, grass-fed lamb.
Our cheese exports averaged over £3.7m p.a in the period 2018-2021.
The UK maintained its 0% duty TRQs for exported cheeses including cheddar, processed cheese, and other cheeses not elsewhere specified.
This is an excellent example of where tariff removal demonstrates that trade in complimentary products to domestic production can deliver benefits for both Swiss consumers and UK agri-food suppliers.
Exports of fruit, vegetables and nuts averaged £636,000 p.a. between 2018 and 2021.
There are 166,076t and 4,500t erga omnes (rest of world) quotas in place for fresh and frozen vegetables.
Tariffs within these quotas vary by product, with peas and sweetcorn £80/t, for carrots £32/t.
Efforts should be made to remove tariffs where UK production can complement domestic production across the horticulture sector.
2 GOV.UK | Information note for the call for input on an enhanced free trade agreement between the United Kingdom and Switzerland