ZURICH, May 15 (Reuters) - Switzerland has reached an agreement on details of a free-trade pact with China and expects to sign a deal in coming months, the country's economy minister said on Wednesday.
'What we currently have is a deal at the technical level,' Johann Schneider-Ammann told a news conference in Berne. He said exact details of the agreement would be given once it has been signed in the next few months.
China is Switzerland's third biggest trading partner after the European Union and the United States, and the pact covers industry as well as agriculture. More details may emerge when China's Premier Li Keqiang visits Switzerland next week.
Any deal is expected to give a boost to Swiss watchmakers such as Swatch and Richemont, after a 31 percent plunge in sales to China in March.
China is the third biggest market for watch exports after Hong Kong and the United States, but demand for timepieces has fallen in recent months after the Chinese government cracked down on gifts for favours, which often involve watches.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Catherine Evans) Keywords: SWISS CHINA/TRADE
(Caroline.Copley@thomsonreuters.com)(+41 58 306 7354)(Reuters Messaging: firstname.lastname@example.org)
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