Trade facilitation seeks to improve procedures and controls in merchandise trade across national borders by reducing associated cost burdens and maximizing efficiency, while safeguarding legitimate regulatory objectives. Recent developments, such as the challenge of bringing trade facilitation in line with growing safety and security concerns, as well as rising concerns about the use/misuse of trade procedures as trade policy tools, have heightened the political profile of trade facilitation.
For many years, the EFTA countries have been contributing to the establishment of simpler trade procedures. This work, which takes place within the framework of the United Nations, endeavours to develop standards, directories and guidelines for the electronic exchange of trade data. More than 200 standardised electronic messages have been established for public and private purposes. The ultimate aim is to eliminate the requirement for paper documents, e.g., invoices and customs declarations.
The EFTA Committee on Trade Facilitation, established by the EFTA Council, follows EFTA’s trade negotiations and is continuously analysing the developments of trade facilitation within other international organisations, such as the World Trade Organization, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Customs Organization. The Committee meets approximately twice a year.