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International trade law

Trade agreements

Switzerland has trade agreements with various countries in place, and continuously keeps expanding its network of trade agreements. Foreign companies that are involved in transactions that concern Switzerland may benefit from these trade agreements, providing they know when and how.

VAT plus assists foreign companies to navigate through the labyrint of Swiss import and export regulations. As examples or as relevant regulations can be mentioned:

  • preferential tariff arrangements,
  • import or export licensing,
  • import quotas,
  • TBT and SPS related issues.

VAT plus assists foreign companies with implementation and enforcement issues, conduct internal compliance reviews, and pursue customs rulings and advisory opinions.

Bilateral agreements and Swiss VAT

Between Switzerland and the European Union are bilateral agreements in place that -among other- regulate under what conditions employees of EU based companies are allowed to perform activities within Switzerland. Foreign companies, with their business establishment within the EU, that in the scope of, for example, construction work send employees to Switzerland should be aware that in advance specific notifications to the Swiss authorities are necessary. Such foreign companies should also pay attention to these obligations when they make use of foreign subcontractors.

None-compliance with these regulations about market access may have an effect on indirect tax compliance. Namely, at import into Switzerland compliance with these regulations may be verified and may lead under circumstances to holding up imports of goods.  

EU based companies that in the scope of their Swiss activities need to send employees to Switzerland should consult the information published by the Swiss authorities:

 

VAT plus does not offer services in the field of labour law. You are referred to the Swiss authorities or to other legal services suppliers.

 
SWISS TRADE AGREEMENTS
COUNTRY LIST
EU*
EFTA*
Turkey*
Israel*
Faroer*
Marocco*
PLO*
Macedonia*
Mexico*
Jordan*
Singapur*
Chile*
Tunisia*
Libanon*
Korea*
SACU*
Egypt*
Canada*
Japan*
GCC*
Colombia*
Albania*
Serbia*
Peru*
Ukraine*
Bosnia*
Montenegro*
Hong Kong*
China*
Panama*
Costa Rica*
 

 

Trade barriers

Indirect taxes can be used by governments as a tool of international trade policy. For example, by applying different rules for foreign companies compared to those applicable for domestic companies, a country can secure advantages for its local companies.

International law, in particular multilateral (e.g. WTO) or bilateral agreements, sets boundaries to the extent that countries may treat foreign companies less equal compared to its local companies. This applies also to Switzerland. Part of the legal practice of VAT plus is to scrutinize the legal norms and practice in the field of Swiss indirect taxation with their compliance of relevant international law.