As an important business and research location, Switzerland is committed to the development of comprehensive international rules on digital trade. Switzerland supports cross-border data flows and opposes restrictive localization requirements. Switzerland also contributes to the development of long-term, broad-based solutions for the digital economy in various international organizations.
Switzerland secures market access for its companies and is committed to ensuring best possible legal certainty in the area of digital trade. This is done on the one hand through comprehensive rules within the framework of free trade agreements, bilaterally or within EFTA, and on the other hand by means of active participation in the joint initiative on e-commerce within WTO, “Joint Statement Initiative on E-Commerce (JSI)”.
To strengthen legal certainty, Switzerland is also examining the use of further instruments, such as specific trade agreements on digital trade ("Digital Trade Agreements"). Improvements are constantly being sought in specific sub-areas, for example in the area of data protection, including the Swiss-U.S. Privacy Shield or standard contractual clauses on data protection for companies. Switzerland closely monitors international projects regarding data protection equivalence, particularly with regard to the UK and the EU. Other similar strategies are being examined where necessary.
To enable innovation and growth, regulations of the digital economy in Switzerland must preserve economic openness in the future. For example, restrictions such as data localization requirements must be avoided in legislative projects, as these can inhibit trade and conflict with Switzerland's international obligations.
Switzerland is also helping to bridge the digital divide by supporting developing countries in establishing reliable economic frameworks for e-commerce. This is done, for example, within the framework of the "E-Commerce and the Digital Economy" (ECDE) program implemented by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD).
According to a press release of 9 March 2023, published by the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), Free Trade Association (EFTA), a first round of negotiations for a digital economy agreement (DEA) between the EFTA states (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and Singapore took place virtually on 8 March 2023. The second round of negotiations is scheduled to take place in April 2023.