UK secures three-year extension of Swiss visa agreement


International Trade Secretary Kemi Badenoch secured a three-year extension allowing professionals to travel between the countries more easily to carry out business. The two countries will launch negotiations next year on a new free trade agreement.

Ms Badenoch said: “The UK and Swiss economies are both services powerhouses and closely aligned. Today’s agreement is a win-win for both sides. From financial services in Edinburgh to cyber security in Wales, the deal ensures UK businesses capitalise on the huge opportunities on offer.

“This is just the beginning. I am excited to launch negotiations on an ambitious, future-facing trade deal with Switzerland that will boost our already incredibly strong trading relationship, worth £39 billion last year.”

The Swiss export market for services was worth over £12 billion with accountancy, architectural and legal services accounting for around half.

Rain Newton-Smith, chief economist at the Confederation of British Industry, said: “Business will hope this injects crucial momentum as the UK and Switzerland prepare to negotiate an enhanced free trade agreement.”

Financial services in Edinburgh contributed to Scotland’s £700 million worth of exports to Switzerland in 2020 while cyber security expertise in Wales made up some of the nation’s £175 million of trade.

Chris Hayward, policy chairman of the City of London Corporation, said agreement on the working arrangement was “hugely welcome”.

He added: “Access to the world’s best talent and a capacity to move highly skilled labour between the UK and Switzerland is of paramount importance to the financial and professional service sector.

“The UK and Switzerland are the two largest financial centres in Europe which means strengthening our services trade relationship is a top priority for the sector. Looking ahead, we hope to see the mobility agreement expanded, incorporated and future-proofed within a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement.”