PARIS — Swiss and Chinese authorities have signed a memorandum of agreement on trade conditions in the field of watchmaking, the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry (FH) said on Monday.
The move coincided with the visit to Switzerland by Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on May 24, and paves the way for the free trade agreement the two countries are expected to ink in the next few months.
The four signatories of the memorandum — the FH, the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, the China Horologe Association and the Chinese Ministry of Industry and Information Technology — will form a working group that is expected to meet at least once a year, the federation said.
“Its main aim will be to encourage the development of trade relations, protect intellectual property rights and indications of origin, particularly Swiss made, carry on the fight against counterfeiting and exchange feedback,” it stated.
“The working group will be able to examine concrete problems facing players in the sector, both in Switzerland and in China, and to issue similarly concrete proposals with a view to their resolution,” it added.
Despite Chinese government moves to curb the practice of giving gifts to officials, China was the third largest market for Swiss watch exports in 2012, purchasing timepieces worth a total of 1.65 billion Swiss francs, or $1.76 billion.
In addition, many Chinese consumers buy watches in neighboring Hong Kong, the number one market for Swiss timepieces last year with sales of 4.37 billion Swiss francs, or $4.66 billion. All dollar rates are calculated at average exchange rates for the period concerned.