December 2023 / Switzerland

January 5 2024

Swiss duties on industrial products abolished

Since 1 January this year, Switzerland is no longer charging import duties on industrial goods of any origin. Building on a decade of groundwork, this is a significant trade policy measure with an estimated total welfare gain of over CHF 860 million a year for the Swiss economy. Lifting industrial tariffs improves Switzerland's standing as a business and industrial hub by easing the financial and administrative burden on both companies and consumers. It makes it easier for Swiss industry to procure competitive inputs and to diversify. In turn, this will raise Swiss companies' productivity at home and abroad, increase their competitive standing and streamline trade relations overall. Tariffs lifted on consumer goods and manufacturing inputs Industrial products in Switzerland cover intermediate inputs for manufacturing processes, such as capital goods, raw materials, salt, semi-finished products and machinery, as well as consumer goods, such as bicycles, household appliances, clothing and shoes. However, agricultural products (including live animals and plants, foodstuffs and luxury foods, processed agricultural products, seeds and animal feed) and fishery products are not classified as industrial products. Customs duties will therefore still apply when importing agricultural products to Switzerland. Reduced administrative burden for companies Alongside the removal of industrial tariffs, a number of changes have also been made to simplify Swiss customs tariffs and the rules on proof of origin, which will help to reduce the administrative burden on Swiss companies. In a competitive environment, consumers also stand to benefit from the cost savings. The federal government will review the impact on the prices of the products concerned in a monitoring programme. The removal of industrial tariffs does not change the customs clearance process itself: importers are still required to make an import declaration and pay other fees and charges incurred on import, including VAT. The decision to abolish industrial tariffs was taken by Parliament on 1 October 2021 by amending the Customs Tariff Act. At its meeting on 2 February 2022, the Federal Council scheduled the measure to come into effect on 1 January 2024. By removing customs barriers, Switzerland – as a small, highly integrated economy – is sending a clear signal in favour of maintaining and expanding unhindered trade flows in an increasingly protectionist global trading environment.