In addition to the EFTA agreement and the free trade agreement with the European Union, Switzerland currently has a network of 30 free trade agreements with 40 partners outside the EU and new agreements are being negotiated. Unilateral trade policies can be tariffs, or they can be trade preferences programmes, such as the EU`s Generalised Preference System (GSP), and can be used as a strategy to promote economic growth in developing countries. Most Swiss agreements are concluded under the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). In addition, Switzerland also has the right to negotiate free trade agreements without efTA participation, as has been the case, for example, with China, Japan and the Faroe Islands. However, negotiations on free trade agreements have become increasingly controversial in the general public. The transatlantic trade and investment partnership (TTIP) negotiations, the EU-US free trade agreement, are an example. Negotiations on the EU-Canada Free Trade Agreement (CETA) have also been controversial. Months of bitter struggle by political actors have seriously questioned the effectiveness and reliability of European trade policy decision-making and have undermined the EU`s international credibility and effectiveness. The World Trade Organization (WTO) is an example of a multilateral agreement.
The WTO is a global group of members that promotes and manages free trade. The WTO is looking at ongoing negotiations on new trade agreements, dispute settlement and the implementation of global trade agreements. Implementation in the SME sector is often not given sufficient attention to free trade agreements and the origin statements of exporting firms. To determine the country of origin, it is necessary to coordinate the management of the company, the export department, procurement, quality assurance, logistics and finance. For example, if the purchasing service changes supplier due to lower prices (old countries of origin, Switzerland, new countries of origin, China and the third country), the export department must also be informed, as this could change the country of origin. Changes in prices and production or fluctuations in exchange rates may also affect the valuation of the country of origin. If the calculations are not checked regularly and thus give false information, this can lead to retroactive payment of customs duties and significant fines against companies. In accordance with the ECJ guidelines, the EU is now designing free trade agreements to remain within the exclusive competence of the EU. Therefore, areas such as investor-state dispute settlement and portfolio investments must be negotiated in the case of separate agreements. This clear division of the domains into different agreements makes it possible for European legislators to ratify and enforce free trade agreements quickly and reliably.
However, such a separation is not possible if trade agreements are an integral part of political association agreements (for example. B with Ukraine, Mexico, Mercosur, etc.). These contracts remain mixed, if only because of the foreign and security policy components (the EU negotiations with Mercosur are based on a 20-year term and do not involve the settlement of investor-state disputes).