China's visa-free policy for Switzerland to promote bilateral business communication: SCCC president
Published: Jan 23, 2024 08:57 PM
National flags of China and Switzerland Photo: VCG

National flags of China and Switzerland Photo: VCG

China-Switzerland cooperation has bright prospects and China's visa-free policy for Switzerland will facilitate bilateral economic ties, said Felix Sutter, president of the Swiss-Chinese Chamber of Commerce (SCCC).

China's visa-free policy has been hailed by Swiss business communities. It allows Swiss entrepreneurs and professionals to serve the Chinese economy and clients in China better and faster, and it also reduces costs, Sutter said in a written interview with the Global Times. He noted that the visa-free policy shortens the lead time for travel to China and allows flexible itineraries. 

"For example, during a planned visit to Southeast Asia, a businessperson can change travel plans at short notice and enter China without going through the visa application process," said Sutter. 

China will apply a unilateral visa-free policy for Switzerland, and the Swiss side will provide more visa facilitation measures for Chinese citizens as well as Chinese enterprises investing in Switzerland, the two countries announced on January 15, 2024, according to the Xinhua News Agency.

In addition, China and Switzerland also announced on January 15 the completion of a joint feasibility study on upgrading their bilateral free trade agreement (FTA), an important stride toward negotiations and deeper economic cooperation.

The FTA was signed on July 6, 2013 and entered into force on July 1, 2014 after being ratified by both countries.

Sutter said that the FTA is considered a success, as it is the only FTA that China has signed with a continental European country. 

The SCCC has been focusing on restarting economic communication between Switzerland and China in the past year. 

"Since December 2022, the SCCC has hosted numerous government and business delegations from China to Switzerland. Facilitating interactions between Swiss and Chinese organizations, companies and entrepreneurs served to reopen dialogue and identify business opportunities and challenges," said Sutter. 

The year 2025 marks the 75th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and Switzerland, and analysts said that the two countries will embrace more cooperation opportunities. 

"With more than 1,000 Swiss companies operating in China, we see potential for more Chinese companies to set up operations to serve their European customer base and understand the needs of the European market," said Sutter. He added that industries with opportunities for increased cooperation between China and Switzerland include life sciences, renewable energy, cleantech, precision engineering and education.

Despite multiple sources of global headwinds including geopolitical tensions and a sluggish economic recovery, Sutter pointed out that Switzerland and China need to address issues including climate change, where the two countries can work together to find innovative and affordable solutions.