The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and the states of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), of which Switzerland is a key member, established formal ties in May 2000 by signing a ‘Declaration on Cooperation’ which called for the launch of negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement. Saudi Arabia’s accession to the World Trade Organization in December 2005 was one of the criteria that laid the groundwork for these negotiations. On June 22, 2009, the EFTA and GCC member states signed the Free Trade Agreement, allowing for significant benefits for both sides, including better access to each other’s markets. The continued increasing importance of the GCC member states for trade and investment relations, as well as their dynamic and fast-growing economies, make them obvious free trade partners for Switzerland and the other EFTA states.
At the same time, the EFTA states, with their high income, highly developed economies, and large trade and investment capabilities, are attractive partners for the GCC states. Therefore, the Free Trade Agreement between the GCC and the EFTA states is the perfect instrument to ensure that the GCC states are granted equivalent preferences in the EFTA markets similar to those already enjoyed by the EU and the other free trade partners of the EFTA.
The GCC-Swiss Forum 2024 will serve as a platform to further strengthen an already strategic and vibrant relationship at a pivotal moment of political convergence. Given the commitment by the GCC to cooperate with Switzerland in the coming years and the fact that there is significant capacity to substantially increase bilateral trade, the GCC-Swiss Forum 2024 will be an ideal opportunity to explore areas of potential collaboration and establish a network for joint projects.
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