The discussions served as an opportunity to take stock of bilateral relations between the two countries, which have been enhanced in the economic field following the entry into force in July 2009 of the free trade agreement between Canada and EFTA. The subjects of international governance and new rules and standards for finance and trade were also raised. Canada currently chairs the G8 and in June hosted the G20 Summit in Toronto. Both countries work closely with the International Organisation of La Francophonie; the visit took place on the eve of the opening of its XIII summit at which Canada will hand over the chair to Switzerland. The partners also discussed regional issues and reform of the United Nations.
The official discussions concluded with the signing of a protocol amending the double taxation agreement by Finance Minister Hans-Rudolf Merz and Josée Verner, Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs, President of the Queen's Privy Council and Minister for La Francophonie. The amended agreement is expected to come into effect in 2012.
President Doris Leuthard and Prime Minister Stephen Harper also announced the conclusion of negotiations on updating and expanding the 1975 bilateral aviation agreement between Switzerland and Canada. The main effects of the revised agreement will be to liberalise tariffs and introduce traffic rights for stopovers and destinations via the two countries. The amendments will benefit passengers, airports, airlines and freight carriers, as well as general economic relations between Switzerland and Canada.
Press release on the double taxation agreement between Switzerland and Canada: www.efd.admin.ch