The Agreement will further enhance the economic ties between the EFTA States and Albania.
Based on a Joint Declaration on Co-operation signed in 1992, EFTA and Albania launched and concluded negotiations on a Free Trade Agreement in the first half of 2009. For EFTA, the Agreement was signed by Ms Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein and current EFTA Chair; Mr Gylfi Magnússon, Minister for Economic Affairs of Iceland; Mr Trond Giske, Minister of Trade and Industry of Norway; and Ms Doris Leuthard, Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs of Switzerland. Mr Sejdi Qerimaj, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Albania to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, signed for Albania.
The Free Trade Agreement focuses on the liberalisation of trade in goods. Both EFTA and Albania will abolish all customs duties on industrial products, including fish and other marine products, as of the entry into force of the Agreement. Bilateral arrangements on agricultural products between the individual EFTA States and Albania also form part of the instruments establishing the free-trade area between both sides. Provisions on the protection of intellectual property rights, on services and investment, and on public procurement complement the Agreement. A Joint Committee will supervise the functioning of the Agreement, which will enter into force after parliamentary approval in the respective Parties.
In 2008, total merchandise trade between EFTA and Albania amounted to USD 42 million. Exports from the EFTA States reached USD 38 million, consisting mainly of pharmaceutical products, machinery and tobacco. The EFTA States imported products from Albania worth USD 4 million, with machinery, mechanical appliances, grains and seeds, and woven apparel being the leading items.
With a combined population of around 12 million, the EFTA States are the world’s ninth largest merchandise trader, as well as significant actors in the areas of trade in services and foreign direct investment. They have now concluded 20 Free Trade Agreements with a total of 29 partner countries outside the EU. Of EFTA’s total merchandise trade, 80% is covered by preferential trade agreements (EFTA-4, EU-27, 29 non-EU free trade partner countries).
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