25 May 2013

Swiss - China trade deal signed

12:04 pm on 25 May 2013

China has signed the framework for a free trade agreement with Switzerland. Full details are expected to be finalised in July.

Bilatetral trade between the two countries is already more than $US26 billion worth of goods per year: watches, medicines, textiles and dairy products.

''This free-trade deal is the first between China and a continental European economy, and the first with one of the (world's) 20 leading economies,'' said Premier Li Keqiang.

''This has huge meaning for global free-trade," he added.

A BBC correspondent in Berne said China has hinted it could make Switzerland its financial centre of choice, if Beijing allows offshore trading of its currency, the yuan.

The agreement still needs to be cleared by both chambers of the Swiss parliament before it can be ratified.

Mr Li is on his first foreign trip since becoming premier in March. He is due to visit Germany on Saturday.