Recognition of professional qualifications agreement opens up Swiss market for British services

Thu 15 Jun 2023
Posted by: Richard Cree
Trade News

UK Switzerland flags overlayed

The UK and Switzerland have today (15 June) agreed on a deal for mutual recognition of professional qualifications to boost trade.

Trade and business secretary Kemi Badenoch and Swiss federal councillor Guy Parmelin signed the deal that will make it easier for UK professionals in regulated sectors, such as law, architecture, tax and audit to get qualifications recognised.

Badenoch said: “Following the start of free trade deal talks last month, this agreement will hopefully ensure UK companies compete for more contracts in Switzerland in the future, boosting UK services exports, and encouraging new Swiss investment into the UK.”

Major market

The Law Society welcomed the deal with the UK’s third largest legal services export market in Europe.

It was reached separately from the ongoing free trade negotiations between the two countries. 

The agreement is expected to come into force in the first few weeks of 2025, replacing interim arrangements that are due to end in December 2024. 

Henriette Gjaerde, trade & customs specialist and IOE&IT’s lead on trade agreements & trade in services, welcomed the announcement:

"This new agreement represents a significant step forward for both economies. Switzerland and the UK are global leaders in the service sector, with trade in services accounting for more than 70% of both nations' GDP. By mutually recognising professional qualifications, skilled workers in both countries will have unrestricted access to both markets, boosting economic development and innovation.

"Switzerland is the UK's seventh largest services trading partner, highlighting the significance of this agreement. It is also the foundation of the future UK-Switzerland free trade agreement, which aims to strengthen regulatory collaboration and competitiveness. Ultimately, this agreement will help make it easier for professionals to do business in each market."

First of a kind

It will become the first government-to-government recognition of professional qualifications following Brexit, reports the Architects Journal.

While Switzerland is not a member of the EU, Brexit removed the UK from agreements on the recognition of professional qualifications between the nation and the bloc, reports Building Design.

The recognition agreement follows deals reached by the Architects Registration Board and its counterparts in New Zealand, Australia and the US earlier this year.

Services are particularly important for both the UK and Switzerland, representing more than 70% of GDP for both economies, and service trade between them was worth £24bn in 2022, making Switzerland the UK’s seventh largest partner for services trade.