Joint EFTA-Israel Committee Agrees to Make Free Trade Agreement More Effective

Published 16-06-2007
In its 6th meeting since the free trade agreement between the two sides entered into force in 1993, the Joint EFTA-Israel Committee met to discuss various aspects of the agreement. It agreed on decisions regarding customs and origin matters and balance of payments and prepared the ground for updating the agreement in the fields of state aid and intellectual property.

Ms. Ronit Kan, Deputy Director General, Director of the Foreign Trade Administration, and Mr. Boaz Hirsch, Director of the Bilateral Trade Agreements Division, both from the Ministry of Industry, Trade, and Labor, chaired the Israeli delegation, whereas Ambassador Norbert Frick, Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission to EFTA, Geneva, was spokesperson for the EFTA delegation.

The Joint Committee adopted an administrative arrangement concerning indication of origin for imports into the EFTA States under the Agreement. This allows the importing EFTA country to determine whether the imported products qualify as originating products under the Agreement. This arrangement is identical to the arrangement between the EU and Israel which came into force earlier this year.

Furthermore, the Parties adopted a Decision on the update of the origin rules of the Agreement to the Euro-Med rules of origin, thereby paving the way for the cumulation of goods originating in the countries within the Euro-Mediterranean cumulation zone. The Joint Committee also adopted Decisions adding a new protocol on mutual administrative assistance in customs matters and streamlining the provisions of the agreement on balance of payments difficulties.

According to the EFTA Secretariat’s statistics, the value of total merchandise trade between the EFTA States and Israel registered an increase of 14% from 2003 to 2004. Total trade between Israel and the EFTA States amounted to roughly 1 billion US dollars in 2004. EFTA imported goods for 413 million US dollars and exported goods for 597 million US dollars.