Sustainability and free trade – No to one-way liberalisation

Consistent approach to sustainable development

Schweizerische Vereinigung für einen starken Agrar- und Lebensmittelsektor (SALS)*

The Schweizerische Vereinigung für einen starken Agrar- und Lebensmittelsektor (SALS) takes a clear stance on the sustainability and liberalisation of trade in agricultural products. Food cannot be equated with other products. A consistent attitude towards sustainable development requires a No to unilateral liberalisation.

Sustainable development

Sustainable development is an important prerequisite in the elaboration of the framework conditions. According to article 104a of the Constitution, cross-border trade relations are subject to the criteria for sustainable development. The conclusion of free trade agreements which contribute to a substantial increase in the volume of food imports or to the promotion of imports of food produced under dubious production conditions does not contribute to sustainable development at either national or international level.

Mercosur and the USA

SALS Switzerland has its sights set on free trade agreements with North and South America. The new Brazilian President, Jair Bolsonaro, who is very close to the agricultural lobby, wants to get out of the climate agreement, abolish the Ministry of the Environment and reduce nature conservation zones. It is unthinkable for SALS Switzerland to support an agreement that would lead to an increase in food imports. In 2017, the volume of agricultural products exported from Swiss raw materials to the Mercosur states was extremely low. For cheese, it was 25 tons.
In the event of a possible agreement with the USA, SALS Switzerland believes that the risks for the Swiss agricultural and food industries and consumers would outweigh. The American food culture differs fundamentally from the Swiss culture. GMOs and growth promoters are taboo in Switzerland and widespread in the USA.

Transformation of unilateral liberalisation

SALS Switzerland is of the opinion that the continuation of one-way liberalisation is no longer possible. Free trade agreements must in future be less static and contain safeguard clauses that allow a country to react to new developments. Climate change and the expectations of the population require dynamic adjustments to the framework conditions. Today’s very static trade agreements do not provide adequate answers to the constantly changing challenges.

Lausanne, 15 November 2018

*    The Schweizerische Vereinigung für einen starken Agrar- und Lebensmittelsektor (SALS) is an umbrella association that brings together over 60 industry organisations and companies along the value added chain. SALS Switzerland defends the common interests of producers and processors in the Swiss agricultural and food sectors. It is committed to a producing Swiss agriculture and a strong food industry. The companies and sector organisations affiliated with SALS Switzerland generate a total annual turnover of over 16 billion Swiss francs and employ over 160,000 people.
Information: Hans Jörg Rüegsegger, Präsident SALS, Riggisberg, +41 79 393 87 50,
David Rüetschi, Geschäftsführer SALS, Lausanne, +41 79 677 82 12