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EFTA Boosts FTA Count

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

27 June 2013

The European Free Trade Association (EFTA), comprising Liechtenstein, Norway, Switzerland and Iceland, has recently signed free trade agreements (FTAs) with the Central American states of Costa Rica and Panama, as well as with Bosnia and Herzegovina. Furthermore, a joint declaration on cooperation was signed with Myanmar.

The EFTA Ministers welcomed the addition of the latest FTAs to EFTA’s expanding network of preferential trade relations. EFTA now has 26 such agreements with 36 partner countries and territories outside of the European Union (EU). The global network is further complemented by six joint declarations on cooperation.

During the course of the meeting, Ministers highlighted the progress achieved, since the beginning of the year, in ongoing negotiations with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan.

Ministers noted the continued active engagement with partners in Asia and reiterated "the priority accorded to enhancing trade relations with this dynamic region." Taking stock of developments in the negotiations with India, Ministers stressed their willingness to move this process forward to its conclusion as soon as possible. Furthermore, they emphasized the progress made in the negotiations with Indonesia and Vietnam, and looked forward to imminent talks with Malaysia. Ministers reaffirmed their strong interest in resuming discussions with Thailand this autumn.

In addition, Ministers reiterated EFTA's interest in further developing existing FTAs, including the accords with Canada, Chile, Korea and Mexico. They agreed to continue exploring possible options for resuming negotiations with Algeria, as well as developing closer trade relations with Pakistan, the Philippines and potential partners in the Sub-Saharan African region.

Finally, underscoring the uneven pace of global economic recovery, the EFTA Ministers discussed the ongoing challenges faced by economic operators in an environment characterized by considerable macroeconomic and policy uncertainty. The Ministers underlined the essential role of open markets in supporting sustainable growth in the increasingly interconnected global economy.

Ministers discussed notably the launch of negotiations between the European Union and the United States on a Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, noting the significance of the initiative, and agreeing to monitor future developments closely.

TAGS: Pakistan | Russia | environment | free trade agreement (FTA) | Bosnia and Herzegovina | Chile | Iceland | India | interest | Algeria | Liechtenstein | Mexico | Norway | Philippines | Thailand | agreements | Belarus | Canada | Costa Rica | Indonesia | Kazakhstan | Malaysia | Switzerland | United States | trade | European Union (EU) | Panama | Vietnam | Europe

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