EFTA and Central American States sign Protocol of Accession of Guatemala to the EFTA-Central America Free Trade Agreement

Published 22-06-2015
Ministers from the Member States of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – and from Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama signed the Protocol of Accession of Guatemala to the EFTA-Central American Free Trade Agreement (FTA) on 22 June 2015 in Schaan, Liechtenstein. Guatemala is the first country to accede to this FTA, which will further enhance the economic ties and promote trade and investment between the EFTA States and Guatemala.

The Protocol of Accession was signed by Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein; Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, Minister for Foreign Affairs and External Trade of Iceland; Dilek Ayhan, State Secretary from the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries of Norway; and Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, Federal Councillor and Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs, Education and Research of Switzerland; as well as by Álvaro Cedeño Molinari, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the WTO; Eduardo Sperisen-Yurt, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the WTO and Alfredo Suescum, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Panama to the WTO.

Building on a Joint Declaration on Cooperation signed by the EFTA States and Panama in July 2010, negotiations between EFTA and four Central American States were launched in November 2011 and were concluded with Costa Rica and Panama in December 2012. Negotiations with Guatemala were concluded in November 2014. The negotiations with Honduras are on hold. The EFTA-Central America FTA was signed by the EFTA States, Costa Rica and Panama in June 2013 and entered into force in August 2014 for Costa Rica, Panama, Norway Liechtenstein and Switzerland and September 2014 for Iceland.

The EFTA-Central America FTA has comprehensive coverage, including trade in goods (industrial and agricultural goods, fish and other marine products), rules of origin, trade facilitation, trade in services, investment, competition, protection of intellectual property rights, government procurement and sustainable development. A Joint Committee supervises the functioning of the FTA. The accession of Guatemala will become effective after completion of the necessary internal procedures by all the Parties.

Economic relations between the EFTA States and Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama

Total merchandise trade between the EFTA States and Guatemala was valued at USD 121 million in 2014, with EFTA’s exports to Guatemala amounting to USD 49 million and imports valued at USD 72 million. EFTA’s exports to Guatemala include machinery, organic chemicals, and watches. EFTA States imports consist principally of coffee and vegetables.
In 2014, total merchandise trade between the EFTA States and the three Central American States (Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama) was valued at USD 890 million, with EFTA’s exports to Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama amounting to USD 497 million and imports valued at USD 393 million.

EFTA as a trade partner

With a combined population of around 14 million, the EFTA States are the world’s 12th largest merchandise trader, and rank 5th in services and foreign direct investment, counting the European Union (EU) as one. They have 25 FTAs with a total of 36 partner countries and territories outside the EU.

High resolution photos are available at photos.efta.int

EFTA Ministerial Meeting 2015