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Switzerland, Japan Sign 'Open Skies' Agreement

by Ulrika Lomas, Lowtax.net, Brussels
11 February, 2014

Switzerland and Japan have signed a so-called "open skies agreement", aimed at removing administrative and regulatory hurdles for airline companies.

The treaty was signed in Tokyo by the ambassadors of both countries, in the presence of Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Swiss President Didier Burkhalter.

Switzerland has been looking to conclude an aviation agreement with Japan for a number of years now. The treaty establishes the framework conditions for use of the airspace, and the liberalization of the markets will give airlines the freedom to plan their routes and services. The accord is expected to further boost mutual trade and investment, while at the same time lowering ticket prices.

Commenting, Jean-Marc Crevoisier of the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (EDA) explained that the aviation accord forms part of the Government's strategy, designed to strengthen economic times with Japan. This follows the signing of the Free Trade Agreement between the two countries in 2009.

Swiss President Burkhalter's visit to Tokyo signalled the start of celebrations marking the 150th anniversary of bilateral relations between Switzerland and Japan, which are said to be "friendly and fruitful."

Japan is Switzerland's second largest economic partner in Asia and fourth largest economic partner in the world, after the European Union, the USA and China. In 2012, the value of Swiss exports to Japan rose to CHF6.7bn (USD7.4bn), while imports stood at CHF4.2bn.

Switzerland's main exports to Japan include chemical and pharmaceutical products, watches and machinery. Switzerland primarily imports motor vehicles, precious metals, jewellery, machinery and chemical products. Trade in services also plays a major role as does Swiss investment in Japan, whether in the secondary or tertiary sector.

The fostering and strengthening of contacts with Japan is in line with the Federal Council's Foreign Policy Strategy 2012-2015, whose fourth priority is to strengthen partnerships in the world's most dynamic regions. In the Asia-Pacific region this involves expanding bilateral relations with those states, enlarging Switzerland's presence in regional forums and pursuing a policy of solidarity with the countries of Asia.

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