China’s Ministry of Commerce said China-Swiss talks on FTA upgrades is not stalled
Published: Jun 01, 2022 01:38 AM
The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) Photo: VCG

The Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM) Photo: VCG

China’s Ministry of Commerce on Tuesday refuted media reports about stalled talks on upgrades to the China-Switzerland free trade agreement (FTA) over so-called human rights affairs related to China's Xinjiang region. 
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce said on Tuesday that China and Switzerland remain in close communication and are actively advancing on possible upgrades to the FTA between the two countries. There has been no stalling in the talks, the spokesperson said.
China and Switzerland signed a memorandum of understanding in 2017 to launch talks on comprehensive upgrading of the FTA which took effect in July 2014.
The FTA between China and Switzerland has played a positive role in facilitating economic cooperation and development between the two countries with a high level of opening-up, broad coverage and mutual benefit to both sides, the spokesperson said.
The remarks mirrored the statement of Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian a day earlier, who called on Switzerland to exclude interference and meet China halfway in negotiations over the FTA upgrades.

Zhao said at a routine press conference on Monday that the free trade agreement between China and Switzerland had largely benefitted people in the two countries since it took effect in 2014. To upgrade the agreement can help the two countries tap their potentials in trade cooperation and promote economic recovery and development under the COVID-19 pandemic. 
The free trade agreement is a mutually beneficial deal and not a gift from one side to the other, Zhao stressed. 
The comments from Chinese officials come after some media in Switzerland reported on Sunday that talks between Switzerland and China had stalled since 2018 for criticism in Switzerland on the so-called human rights issues such as forced labor in China's Xinjiang region.
Zhao pointed out that the two sides had kept close communication over the upgrade of the agreement based on the principles of mutual respect and equality.
China is happy to see the agreement being upgraded, and hopes Switzerland could exclude interferences and meet China halfway, Zhao said.
Trade between China and Switzerland topped $44.1 billion in 2021, data from China's Ministry of Commerce showed.  
Since 2010, China has been Switzerland's biggest trading partner in Asia and its third largest globally after the EU and the US. The two countries signed a free trade agreement that entered into force on July 1, 2014, the Xinhua News Agency reported.