The EU and Switzerland have launched negotiations aimed at liberalising regulations governing the trade of agro-food products.

EU commissioner for agriculture, Mariann Fischer Boel, and the head of the Swiss Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Doris Leuthard, will head the talks.

Launching the negotiations, Mariann Fischer Boel said: "The EU and Switzerland are neighbours and have much in common; we have made a lot of progress over the years in freeing up bilateral trade, but now we want to take this process to its logical conclusion… Both sides have much to gain from this process."

If the talks are successful, they could spell an end to tariffs between the two parties. However, Brussels indicated that the negotiations will go beyond tariff issues to encompass other concerns, including food safety.  

A spokesperson for the European Commission reiterated the belief that the liberalisation of trade with Switzerland would be advantageous to both parties.

"Liberalised bilateral trade with Switzerland would no doubt bring economic and trade benefits to member nations as well as to the Swiss," the spokesperson told just-food.