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Switzerland is extremely exposed to the result of the UK-EU Brexit negotiations. Switzerland has its own bilateral deals with Brussels, agreed over two decades, after the Swiss decided in 1992 not to join the EU. A hard Brexit would end these Swiss-British agreements! Even after a soft Brexit, the Swiss cannot secure their own trade, customs or movement of people agreements directly with the UK, until the UK has come to an agreement with the EU. Switzerland and the UK are among each other’s largest trading partners. The UK is Switzerland’s 5th largest overseas market with exports of over CHF 11 billion. UK exports to Swiss are valued at CHF 28 billion. Bilateral CH-UK talks cleverly dubbed “Mind the Gap” have been happening for years, yet nothing can be finalized without EU permission: this could spell trouble, if things turn bad between the UK and the EU.
Brexit has also brought forward the importance of the EU and Switzerland renegotiating their bilateral framework to consolidate and replace the 120 different treaties bind them currently. The new framework will be more restrictive than the old, so Switzerland-EU relations aren't an example for countries looking to leave the EU. The negotiations are at a stalemate: an agreement in the near term is unlikely. Disagreements over the free movement of people are a critical issue. A hard Brexit could see the Swiss lose a major trading partner and force the EU to make stringent demands for further access to the single market.