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Extension of the UK-Switzerland Services Mobility Agreement

Volume 723: debated on Monday 21 November 2022

The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Swiss Confederation share a deep and trusted trading relationship. We are two global leaders in services trade with deep links between our economies. As per the Office for National Statistics, in 2021, Switzerland was the United Kingdom’s sixth largest trade-in-services partner, with trade in services amounting to £18.4 billion and accounting for 48% of total UK-Swiss trade.

In December 2020, in recognition of this unique relationship, and to avoid disruption for service providers not covered by the mobility arrangements set out in the Citizens Rights Agreement, my Department, in co-ordination with the Home Office and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy negotiated the temporary agreement between the Swiss Confederation and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland on services mobility—the Services Mobility Agreement.

The Services Mobility Agreement allows UK professionals to travel freely to Switzerland and to work and deliver services visa-free for up to 90 days per year. The agreement also ensures UK professionals will not face economic interests tests or be required to secure work permits during these first 90 days of service supply.

The agreement also allows Swiss professionals to come to the UK and provide services under contract in a number of key skilled sectors through the UK’s service supplier visa for up to 12 months, supporting broader trade in vital industries of the UK economy, including finance, consultancy, legal services, the tech sector and the creative industries.

While the agreement was always intended to be temporary, the UK and Switzerland have agreed to extend the agreement for a further three years. This will ensure businesses and services providers here in the UK and those in Switzerland are provided with the clarity and certainty they need to continue to make use of this unique and important relationship.

The Services Mobility Agreement also established a working group between the UK and Switzerland on the recognition of professional qualifications. I am pleased to note the working group has had meaningful discussions. The UK’s aim is for an agreement that will provide clarity for suitably qualified professionals on the long-term arrangements to have their qualifications recognised in each party’s market, while protecting regulator autonomy. I will update the House with more information on this in due course.

This prolongation will extend the Services Mobility Agreement on its current terms and will enable us to look ahead to negotiations on an enhanced free trade agreement. We look forward to the opportunity that the negotiations present to pursue a comprehensive agreement that is reflective of the UK and Switzerland’s deep and historic trading and political relationship.