Bern has a small domestic market and limited mineral resources, which makes the city reliant on imports. Nonetheless, during 2009, Bern’s exports stood at $3.8 billion, exceeding its imports by $860 millon. The reason for the favorable trade scenario is that Bern processes several import commodities and resells them to its trade partners at a profitable margin.
Key Bern import commodities are: Machinery, Chemicals, Metals, Agricultural, products, Textiles. Bern maintains close trade relations with the European Union (EU), which has resulted in the creation of several trade agreements over the last four decades, including: The Free Trade Agreement, 1972: It was primarily intended to create a free trade zone to dismantle quotas and customs for industrial products, The Insurance Agreement, 1989: The act guaranteed insurance companies from Bern the right to establish operations anywhere in the EU without much legal restrictions.Additionally, Bern entered a bilateral agreement with the EU in 1999 to: Facilitate public procurement, Remove technical trade barrier, Support agriculture, Encourage free movement of labor.The agreement was further modified in 2004 to cover greater economic interests as well as extend cooperation in the fields of environment, culture and internal security, asylum, the environment and culture. Countering fraud in trade transactions within the respective territories is another focus area of the Bilateral Agreement II between Bern and the EU.