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Switzerland and UK sign agreement on mobility of service suppliers

The UK market is being opened up to Switzerland in more than 30 service sectors Keystone

An agreement that secures reciprocal, facilitated market access for service providers from Switzerland and Britain from January 1 has been signed by Economics Minister Guy Parmelin and Liz Truss, the British Secretary of State for International Trade.

The Services Mobility Agreement (SMA), signed in London on Monday, regulates the mutual access and temporary stay of service suppliers – for example management consultants, IT experts or engineers – the economics ministry said in a statement.

The agreement was necessary because from January the agreement on the free movement of persons between Switzerland and the EU would no longer apply to the UK, owing to Brexit. Britain officially left the EU on January 31, 2020; the two sides are currently trying to hammer out a trade deal before Britain’s transition out of the bloc ends on December 31.

Specifically, Switzerland will retain the existing notification procedure for service providers from the UK of up to 90 days a year. In 2019 there were 3,800 such registrations from the UK.

Preferential conditions

On the UK side, the market is being opened up to Switzerland through “market access commitments” in more than 30 service sectors, the economics ministry said. This means service suppliers from Switzerland can stay in the UK for up to 12 months in any 24-month period.

In addition, the UK is granting further preferential conditions, according to the ministry. “Swiss service providers are not subject to an economic needs test for these sectors and are not required to provide evidence of knowledge of English.”

Market access to the UK under the SMA is currently limited to people with qualifications at university or equivalent level. However, the economics ministry says the UK has undertaken to reassess the equivalence of Swiss vocational education and training qualifications.

The SMA is initially limited to two years. However, the contracting parties may jointly decide to extend the duration.

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