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EFTA Focusses On Sealing Trade Deals

by Ulrika Lomas,, Brussels

19 November 2012

Liechtenstein Councillor Aurelia Frick has recently participated in the latest meeting of European Free Trade Association (EFTA) ministers in Geneva, with the talks focussing on the need to conclude a number of trade treaties, and culminating in the signing of a Joint Declaration of Cooperation with Pakistan.

Councillor Frick stressed that given the current economic situation, it is all the more important for EFTA economic actors to gain unhindered access to foreign markets. To this end, Frick welcomed the increased rate of EFTA activity.

Commenting on the signing of the Joint Declaration of Cooperation with Pakistan, Councillor Frick underlined the fact that the agreement will serve to strengthen bilateral economic and trade relations.

The European Free Trade Association, comprising Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway, and Switzerland, currently has a network of 24 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with 33 countries worldwide (excluding the European Union). In addition, six Joint Declarations of Cooperation complement this extensive network.

According to the Liechtenstein government, given the increasing number of Free Trade Agreements at global level and in view of new trends and developments, it will be necessary to revise existing EFTA-FTAs to include areas such as services and investment, intellectual property and sustainable development.

In Geneva, the EFTA discussions also centred on progress made and challenges as regards ongoing free trade negotiations with Bosnia-Herzegovina, with the Customs Union Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan, with India, Indonesia, Vietnam and Central America (Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama).

The Liechtenstein government explained that the agreement with the Central American states is due to be ready for signing by the next EFTA ministerial meeting. It is expected that the agreement with Bosnia-Herzegovina will also be ready for signing at the next gathering. As regards negotiations with the Russia-Belarus-Kazakhstan Customs Union, the government emphasized that good progress has been made in the negotiations.

Frick conceded that negotiations with India continue to take top priority. Frick said that talks with Indonesia are progressing well so far and pointed out that two rounds of talks have already been held with Vietnam this year. The swift resumption of negotiations with Thailand and with Algeria is sought.

Plans to strengthen and to deepen trade relations with Asia and its emerging countries remain a priority for EFTA states. During a recent visit by Swiss Federal Councillor Johann Schneider-Ammann to Kuala Lumpur discussions on a FTA with Malaysia were launched.

EFTA states are also looking to deepen trade relations with certain African states in the sub-Saharan region.

TAGS: Pakistan | Russia | free trade agreement (FTA) | Iceland | India | intellectual property | Algeria | Liechtenstein | Norway | Thailand | offshore | Belarus | Costa Rica | Guatemala | Indonesia | Kazakhstan | Malaysia | Switzerland | trade | Honduras | Panama | Vietnam | services

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