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Swiss Ambassador highlights close working relationship with the UK in Cardiff Business Club address

His Excellency Markus Leitner, Ambassador of Switzerland to the United Kingdom, addressed Cardiff Business Club at a lunch event sponsored by Eversheds Sutherland, on 27 February at Sophia Gardens.

Leitner spoke about the strong working relationships between Wales and Switzerland through programmes such as the electrification of the railways and the supply of a large number of trains as part of the significant redevelopment of the Transport for Wales network, focusing on the many links and partnerships between the UK and Switzerland.

His speech shed light on the Swiss government’s four focuses for our two countries to work more closely together in the near future, highlighting a modernised free trade agreement and improved mobility alongside a focus on financial services and science and research.

With negotiations currently in place for a modernised free trade agreement, Leitner said mobility needed to be improved in order to ease the trade process for the service provider, ensuring easier and freer trade between the two nations.

He highlighted that both countries hold major financial centres, mentioning Cardiff’s fintech industry, and said that there needs to be an agreement between these financial centres to work in tandem. With life sciences taking specific focus, the Ambassador supported the Government’s aims and outlined that the onus is now with the private sector to support his Government’s plans.

He touched on Brexit and how Switzerland can lead by example as a European country that is thriving outside of the European Union, thanks to its strong currency and dominant economy, alongside their policy of neutrality. Switzerland is fully committed to its policy of neutrality, which is not the same as indifference, he said. The Ambassador reiterated that the country is fully committed to international law, support to the civilian population and eventually peace in Ukraine.

 

 

One of the biggest challenge Switzerland faces is its relationship to the EU, as in some ways it was more integrated than some of its members, the Ambassador said.

Switzerland opted for access to the single market through five agreements, which should be updated and expanded by two more agreements. While the British and the Swiss starting points towards the EU might be different, a reinforced cooperation between the UK and Switzerland remains important.