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IV. trade policies by sector - page 5 / 50





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WT/TPR/S/208Trade Policy Review Page 94

Source:Federal Office for Agriculture (various issues), Rapport agricole.  Viewed at:  http://www.blw.admin.ch/dokumentation/00018/00103/index.html?lang=fr;  and information provided by the Swiss authorities.  


Under the Agricultural Imports Ordinance (RS 916.01), the complex system of "indicative" or "threshold" prices remains in place for agricultural products.  The system currently applies to animal feedingstuffs and seeds, although any agricultural product may be covered.  The system is aimed at ensuring stable domestic prices for these products by maintaining their duty-inclusive import prices within certain brackets (Chapter II(2)(v)).2  To this end, the c.i.f. import prices of the products are projected, and the customs duties, to bring the projected import prices into line with the projected local prices of the goods, are estimated.  The Federal Department of Economy also determines a permissible bracket for fluctuations of the actual duty-inclusive import prices around the threshold or the indicative prices.  Customs duties on the products are adjusted quarterly to keep duty-inclusive import prices within the price brackets.3  Threshold/indicative prices have generally been reduced during the period under review.


Under the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have undertaken tariff quota commitments on 28 product categories.  In 2001, the three tariff quotas on wines were merged.  As a result, 26 product categories, covering a total of 287 tariff lines, are under tariff quota (Table IV.4).4  Some of the quotas are administered through a non-automatic licensing system with different allocation procedures (Table IV.5).  Quota-fill rates varied considerably in 2007, from zero (live swine) to full utilization (live sheep and goats, potatoes, frozen vegetables, bread grains).  Under the prise-en-charge system, traders are required to purchase similar domestic products so that they are allowed to import.  When domestic supply is considered insufficient, the quotas may be expanded unilaterally, resulting in fill ratios exceeding 100%.  However, the fill ratio may change on a yearly basis, notably in case of strong import pressure that would require the use of an alternate, more restrictive allocation procedure (e.g. auction), or the combination of prise en charge with the latter.5


Under Article 5 of the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, Switzerland and Liechtenstein have retained the right to invoke the special safeguard clause for all imports subject to tariff quotas. This measure allows the authorities to restrict imports by means of additional duties when prices fall below, or imports exceed, given thresholds.  A safeguard duty has been levied only once by Switzerland and Liechtenstein (in 1999), on imports of pig meat and its by-products.  Since then, neither Switzerland nor Liechtenstein have invoked special safeguard provisions.  


Furthermore, preferential tariff quotas (with lower in-quota tariffs in general) are in place under bilateral trade agreements with various countries (Chapter III(2)(iii));  these quotas are included in the MFN tariff quotas, i.e. there are no "reserved" quantities. Switzerland also grants                 non-reciprocal preferential market access (including through preferential tariff quotas) to agricultural products from developing countries.6

Table IV.4

Tariff quotas, 2007

2 The quarterly modification of applied MFN tariffs under the system reduces their predictability.  See WTO (2004) for more details on the negative impact of the threshold/indicative price system.  

3 Article 20 of RS 910.1.  The methods for estimating the import price and the permissible bracket for fluctuations are determined by the Federal Council.  The current bracket is Sw F 3 per 100 kg (unchanged since 2000).  Current threshold prices are defined in Annex 2 to RS 916.01.

4 The merger of three tariff quotas on wines has not yet been reflected in the WTO schedules of Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

5 Under the Switzerland-Liechtenstein tariff-quota regime, the prise-en-charge procedure is always combined with other procedures.  

6 RS 632.911.

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