Functioning commercial relationships are vital for an export-oriented country like Switzerland. The pharmaceutical industry alone exports goods worth some CHF 90 billion annually. Around half of this volume is exported to the European Union. Regulated and stable commercial relationships with the EU are therefore essential for the pharmaceutical industry. Yet Switzerland also needs to conclude free-trade agreements with other countries. A country-specific approach will be required, determined by the development status of the country concerned. In this way, countries with less purchasing power will also gain access to innovative medicinal products.
The pharmaceutical industry is actively concerned with the question of trade agreements and will produce a list of priorities for the competent authority every two years. Where new agreements are concluded, compliance with minimum standards must be ensured at all times, with strong protection of intellectual property. In addition to multilateral agreements, which represent the most effective means of ensuring access to the market, industry-specific mutual recognition agreements (MRA) are also needed.
Global recognition of innovative achievements
The research-based pharmaceutical industry pursues a systematic strategy of specialisation and innovation that requires companies to make a consistently high level of investment in research and development. Long-term investment of this kind can only be economically justified in an environment with global market access that is free of discrimination and strong, enforceable protection of intellectual property rights. Central requirements for this are a functioning international trade system within the World Trade Organization (WTO) and expansion of the network of free-trade agreements with clear priorities.