Trade and competition policy

CHOCOSUISSE is committed to Switzerland as a production location and to functioning, fair competition in which competitors all have equal opportunities.

You can find our most recent position papers on the topic of trade and competition policy under Positions.

Access to the European market

The EU is the most important market for Swiss chocolate. Market access to EU countries is thus crucial. After Brexit, this is also true of Great Britain, one of the most important export markets for Swiss chocolate.

As part of the Bilateral Agreements II, many processed agricultural products were declared exempt from customs duties in mutual trade with the EU. But a free trade agreement in agriculture would also be important. Swiss manufacturers are still denied access to the European raw materials market because of domestic political opposition to such an agreement. This results in disadvantages in terms of raw material prices for Swiss manufacturers due to agricultural border protection.

In what is referred to as the “double zero” solution, Switzerland and the EU have agreed to mutually waive customs duties and duty drawback on sugar in processed products. This absence of compensatory measures means that tariff management of the raw material sugar must be geared to the European market price. Otherwise Swiss sugar processors would be put at a competitive disadvantage.

Access to non-European markets

Around three quarters of the chocolate produced in Switzerland is exported – to well over a hundred countries. Free trade agreements which guarantee non-discriminatory access to non-European markets are correspondingly important.

Compensation for disadvantages stemming from the protection of agricultural borders

The consequences of the protection of agricultural borders mean that milk powder and butter are much more expensive in Switzerland than abroad. If this disadvantage were not offset, Swiss chocolate manufacturers would have significant competitive disadvantages in comparison to their foreign counterparts.

Partial compensation is provided in the domestic market by the Federal Law on the import of agricultural products and in the export market by a private fund of the industry organisation “Milch”. The latter was established in 2019 as a private successor to the former “chocolate law”.

Both compensation solutions leave a price difference due to border protection. This puts Swiss manufacturers under pressure both at home and on the export market. Exporters were at least granted the right to use the customs procedure of the inward processing procedure in 2019 as part of the abolition of the “chocolate law”. This opens access to foreign raw materials for subsequent re-export in processed form.

General agriculture policy

The Swiss chocolate industry processes about one third of Swiss sugar production and a significant proportion of Swiss milk production. Agricultural policy decisions affecting the supply of Swiss raw materials are therefore of relevance to Swiss chocolate manufacturers. This is why CHOCOSUISSE also regularly states its opinions on agricultural issues.

Responsible commission: Foreign Trade Commission