China cuts duties on Swiss watches

China is to cut import duties on Swiss watches by 60 per cent over the next 10 years under a free-trade agreement which should help reinvigorate Swiss watchmakers’ sales in a key market.

Swatch Group and Richemont are grappling with slowing demand for luxury timepieces in mainland China due to a crackdown on expensive gifts for favours and slowing economic growth. Exports of Swiss watches to mainland China, their third biggest market, grew just 0.6 per cent in 2012, down from almost 49 per cent growth in 2011. Under the first free trade pact China will sign with a country in continental Europe, the Asian country will allow 84 per cent of Swiss exports to be duty-free.