The unilateral abolition of industrial tariffs on imports from 1 January 2024 means that the 35 free trade agreements (FTA) will retain their significance for exporters based in Switzerland and the Principality of Liechtenstein.
The FTA rules state that the larger share in value of the manufacturing process (primary materials, labour and profit) must be generated in Switzerland in order to meet the requirement of preferential origin. Primary materials from the country or countries with which the FTA exists can be considered as “Swiss primary materials” provided that a valid preferential origin applied when they were imported into Switzerland.
The abolition of industrial tariffs now means that there is a risk of suppliers from abroad no longer issuing preferential proofs of origin. The rationale behind this would be that with or without preferential status the tariff is zero and the administrative work involved is not justified.
Without this proof, their imports would lose the preferential status and would have to be considered as non-preferential primary materials for the purpose of the calculation of origin. The “Swiss” share would be reduced, which would mean that products destined for export would lose the preferential status. In turn, the buyer/importer would also have to pay the import duty, meaning that the costs would increase. Competitiveness would thus be reduced.
Your international suppliers will still have to provide preferential proofs of origin for each shipment to Switzerland after 1 January 2024 (provided they meet the FTA rules).
Insist that customs clearance agents, forwarders and/or courier services continue to enter the preferential origin on the customs declaration. This customs document also serves as proof that preferential origin goods were imported in the event of a follow-up inspection by customs.
Moreover, in this way you also ensure that any formal check of the origin documents remains with the specialists and does not cause additional administrative work within your company.
The above statements also apply to goods that do not undergo further processing or finishing in Switzerland, e.g. spare parts. Here too, the preferential origin for goods delivered from abroad must still be proven.
Swiss and Liechtenstein-based sub-contractors must also be aware of the preferential status issue. Supplier declarations in Switzerland may only be issued if the requirements of the individual FTAs are complied with. This also includes imported primary products or goods sold to exporters in Switzerland that arrived on Swiss customs territory with a valid proof of preferential origin.