This week, in Washington, Federal Councilor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann will hold talks on trade relations as well as a possible free trade agreement between Switzerland and the USA. He also intends to sign an agreement on vocational training. Plans include meetings with US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
Regarding the vocational training, Switzerland and the USA have been engaged in intensive dialogue for several years. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to be signed on Monday in Washington by Federal Councilor Schneider-Ammann and his US counterparts, should affirm the will to further this cooperation. The MoU provides the framework for a pragmatic exchange on VET issues between the two countries and will be an agreement between the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research (WBF) and the three US departments of Labor, Education and Trade. Like the first MoU on VET signed in 2015, the new agreement will again be valid for three years.
Due to the great importance and dynamism of the US market, Switzerland is seeking to strengthen trade relations with the USA. In order to explore the possibilities of a bilateral free trade agreement, exploratory talks are currently taking place between Switzerland and the USA.
Federal Councilor Schneider-Ammann will use his stay in the United States to discuss with members of the Cabinet of Congress and representatives of resident Swiss companies on strengthening trade relations, the possibilities of a free trade agreement between Switzerland and the United States, and vocational training.
The USA is Switzerland's second most important trading partner and Switzerland is an important investor in the USA. The bilateral trade volume, including goods and services, is almost 120 billion francs. With direct investments of over 300 billion francs, Switzerland is the seventh largest investor in the USA. Trade with the US has developed very dynamically in recent years. Goods exports have increased by around 50% in the last 5 years.