Meanwhile, 1.8 billion francs of tariffs have been saved through exports to partner free trade countries. The European Union is Switzerland`s main trading partner and about 52% of exports go to the EU. These trade relations began when the EU and Switzerland concluded the free trade agreement in 1972. This has given each country the opportunity to act duty-free on industrial products. The ESTV also ensured that no quota could be set for the number of goods traded.  Later in 1999, the EU and Switzerland formed a set of seven agreements, the so-called bilateral agreements I. These agreements include the free movement of people, non-tariff barriers to health, safety and environmental protection, public procurement, agriculture and air and land transport. Another set of agreements, called Bilateral II, was implemented in 2004. These new agreements have added new economic interests such as tourism, the food industry and financial centres. It has also improved political affairs between the EU and Switzerland, including global affairs, asylum and internal security.  While Switzerland is largely active in the international industrial goods sector, the agricultural sector is protected.  Because Switzerland strictly complies with its food regulations, many trading countries must adapt their products to EUROPEAN directives. From the EU`s point of view, the treaties contain largely the same content as the EEA treaties, making Switzerland a virtual member of the EEA.
Most EU laws apply throughout the EU, the EEA and Switzerland and offer most of the conditions for the free movement of people, goods, services and capital that apply to Member States. Switzerland contributes to the EU budget. Switzerland has extended bilateral treaties to new EU member states; Any extension required the approval of Swiss voters in a referendum. Most (but not all) Swiss free trade agreements contain such a rule. This means that the determination of the country of origin of primary materials from a third country is not taken into account, provided that their value does not exceed 10% of the factory starting price. However, if a percentage rule is established in the list, it cannot be exceeded by the application of the general value tolerance. This is why this tolerance is particularly important for products for which the list provides for a jump in position. The general value tolerance cannot apply to products listed in Chapters 50 to 63 of the harmonized system, nor does it apply to products that have received only minimal processing in Switzerland. “Free trade agreements have enabled Swiss companies to improve their competitiveness in the Swiss and international markets,” says the study from the University of St.
Gallen. Implementation in the SME sector is often not given sufficient attention to free trade agreements and the origin statements of exporting firms. To determine the country of origin, it is necessary to coordinate the management of the company, the export department, procurement, quality assurance, logistics and finance.