Central American States (Costa Rica, Guatemala and Panama)

Guatemala Flag

Signature

The EFTA States Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland signed a free trade agreement with Costa Rica and Panama on 24 June 2013.

EFTA and Central American States signed the Protocol of Accession of Guatemala to the EFTA-Central America Free Trade Agreement on 22 June 2015.

Negotiations with Honduras are on hold.

 

Entry into force

19 August 2014 for Costa Rica, Panama and Norway; 29 August 2014 for Liechtenstein and Switzerland; 5 September 2014 for Iceland.

Entry into force for Guatemala: pending



Summary

As a broad-based agreement, the FTA covers trade in goods, trade in services, investment, competition, the protection of intellectual property rights, government procurement, trade and sustainable development, and cooperation.

In the area of trade in goods, EFTA abolishes all customs duties on industrial products as of the entry into force of the Agreement, whereas the Central American States will do so after a transitional period.

The Agreement foresees the possibility for other Central American States to join the FTA.

 

Trade Statistics

For EFTA-Costa Rica trade statistics, please visit this page.

For EFTA-Guatemala trade statistics, please visit this page.

For EFTA-Panama trade statistics, please visit this page.

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

  • Guatemala ready to join EFTA’s free trade network 17.11.2014
    María Luisa Flores, Vice-Minister of Economy of Guatemala and Eduardo Sperisen-Yurt, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the WTO

    On 17 November 2014, Ministers from the Member States of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – and from Guatemala marked the outcome of the negotiations on Guatemala’s accession to the EFTA-Central America Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

  • EFTA and Guatemala conclude free trade negotiations 27.10.2014

    In a final round of negotiations held in Guatemala City on 14 and 15 October 2014, delegations from the EFTA States and Guatemala substantially concluded free trade negotiations within the framework of the EFTA-Central America Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

  • EFTA-Central America Free Trade Agreement set to enter into force 23.07.2014

    Following its ratification by all parties, the free trade agreement (FTA) between the EFTA States – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – and the Central American States of Costa Rica and Panama will become operational in the coming weeks.

  • EFTA States sign Free Trade Agreement with Costa Rica and Panama 24.06.2013
    Richardo Quijano, Minister of Trade and Industry, Panama, and Anabel Gonzalez, Ministry of Foreign Trade, Costa Rica, signing the EFTA-Central America Free Trade Agreement

    Ministers from the Member States of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) – Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland – and from Costa Rica and Panama have signed a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) today. The FTA will further enhance the economic ties and promote trade and investment between the two sides.

  • EFTA proceeds in Central America negotiations 18.02.2013

    During a sixth round in the framework of free trade negotiations with Central American States held from 12 to 15 February 2013 in Geneva, the EFTA States focused on outstanding issues with Guatemala.

  • EFTA and Central America move towards finalisation of free trade negotiations 17.12.2012

    At a fifth round of negotiations held in Guatemala City on 10-14 December 2012, delegations from the EFTA States as well as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama made important progress towards the conclusion of a free trade agreement between the two sides.

  • EFTA and Central America make further headway in free trade negotiations 05.11.2012

    Delegations from the EFTA States as well as Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama held a fourth round of negotiations on a comprehensive free trade agreement from 29 October to 2 November 2012 in Geneva.

  • EFTA and Central America advance in free trade negotiations 27.08.2012

    A third round of negotiations on a comprehensive free trade agreement between the EFTA States and Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama was held on 20-24 August 2012 in San José, Costa Rica.

  • EFTA and Central American States hold second round of free trade negotiations 08.06.2012

    Meeting on 4-7 June 2012 in Panama City, delegations from the EFTA States, on the one hand, and Costa Rica, Honduras and Panama, on the other hand, made significant headway in their negotiations on a broad-based free trade agreement.

  • EFTA opens free trade negotiations with Central American States 02.03.2012

    Delegations from the EFTA States and Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras and Panama convened for a first round of negotiations on a broad-based free trade agreement from 28 February to 1 March 2012 in Geneva.

  • EFTA and Central American States announce start of free trade negotiations 14.11.2011
    From left to right: Mr Kåre Bryn, EFTA Secretary-General; Mr Johann N. Schneider-Ammann, Federal Councillor, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs of Switzerland; Mr Ronald Saborio Soto, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Costa Rica, Geneva; Mr Trond Giske, Minister of Trade and Industry of Norway; Ms Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein; Ms Diana Salazar, Viceminister, Chief Trade Negotiator, Panama; Mr Dacio Castillo, Ambassador, Permanent Mission of Honduras, Geneva; and

    Ministers from the Member States of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) - Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland - and Panama, together with Costa Rica and Honduras, today announced the start of negotiations on a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with a view to further enhancing the economic ties and promoting trade and investment between the two sides.

  • EFTA and Central American countries hold exploratory meeting under EFTA-Panama Joint Committee 28.03.2011

    Delegations from the EFTA States, Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras met on 23 March 2011 for an exploratory meeting in Panama City.

  • EFTA and Panama sign Joint Declaration on Cooperation 20.07.2010

    The four EFTA States (Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) and the Republic of Panama signed a Joint Declaration on Cooperation (JDC) on 20 July 2010 in Geneva. Through the JDC, both sides commit to further enhancing their bilateral economic relations. A Joint Committee will meet periodically to discuss relevant issues.

Content of the Free Trade Agreement

The Agreement consists of 13 Chapters and 21 Annexes, covering the following main subjects:

  • Trade in Goods
  • Trade in Services
  • Investment
  • Competition
  • Protection of Intellectual Property
  • Government Procurement
  • Trade and Sustainable Development
  • Cooperation
  • Institutional Provisions
  • Dispute Settlement

 

Trade in Goods

With the entry into force of the Agreement, the EFTA States abolish all customs duties on imports of industrial products, including fish and other marine products, originating in Central American States. The participating Central American States will gradually eliminate all customs duties on industrial products, including fish and other marine products, originating in an EFTA State (Annexes IV and V). All such goods will be duty free by 2029 at the latest.

The Agreement provides for tariff concessions on both basic and agricultural products, as covered by the bilateral Annexes IX to XVI of the Agreement.

The rules of origin and methods of administrative cooperation between customs authorities are dealt with in Annex I. The Agreement provides for liberal rules of origin, based on the European model. The rules open up for accumulation with all types of products (industrial and agricultural) among the Parties as well as for the possibility of self-declaration of origin in certain cases.

The Agreement contains detailed provisions on trade facilitation (Annex VII), inter alia opening up for advance rulings as well as limiting the possibility of new fees and charges. Sanitary and phytosanitary measures as well as technical regulations are dealt with in Chapter 2, referring to WTO law. Furthermore, the Agreement includes provisions on state trading enterprises, subsidies and countervailing measures, anti-dumping as well as disciplines on safeguard measures.

 

Trade in Services

The Chapter on trade in services (Chapter 4) closely follows the WTO General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS) approach. It covers trade in all services sectors under all four modes of supply, with the exception of air traffic. A separate annex on financial services (Annex XVII) complements the chapter with additional disciplines specific to that sector. The Parties’ lists of specific commitments (with an attachment on additional commitments on telecommunication services) and exemptions from most-favoured-nation (MFN) treatment are contained in Annexes XV and XVI, respectively. Those lists shall be reviewed periodically with the aim to further liberalise trade in services between both sides.

 

Investment

The aim of Chapter 5 is to improve the legal framework conditions for investors from the EFTA and Central American States investing in each other’s markets. This is achieved by granting non-discriminatory rights of establishment and operation (“commercial presence”) in economic sectors not covered by the chapter on trade in services. In certain economic areas, the Parties have included reservations to national treatment based on restrictions in their national legislations (Annex XVIII). The Chapter foresees a periodical review of such reservations, with the aim of increasing the Parties’ commitments over time.

 

Intellectual Property Rights

The provisions on protection of intellectual property rights (Chapter 6 and Annex XIX) cover, inter alia, trademarks, copyrights, patents and geographical indications, and include provisions for the enforcement of intellectual property rights and cooperation among the Parties. They are based on the WTO Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and provide for a high level of protection, taking into account the principles of most-favoured-nation treatment and of national treatment.

 

Government Procurement

The Agreement provides for the mutual opening of government procurement markets of the Parties. Covered government entities as well as the goods and services are listed in Annex XX. Chapter 7 deals with the procedures to be followed by an entity when procuring, including provisions on national treatment and transparency, and contains a review clause. The chapter is based on the revised WTO Government Procurement Agreement but has been adapted in some areas to reflect the Parties’ specific interests.

 

Competition

In Chapter 8, the Parties recognise that anti-competitive business practices have the potential to undermine the benefits of liberalisation arising from the Agreement. They highlight the importance of cooperating on issues relating to competition law enforcement.

 

Trade And Sustainable Development

The Parties recognise that economic development, social development and environmental protection are interdependent. In Chapter 9, they reaffirm their commitment to multilateral environmental and labour agreements and principles and undertake to uphold their levels of protection. Trade in forest-based products are dealt with in a separate provision. Arbitration procedures do not apply to this chapter.

 

Cooperation

In Chapter 10, the Parties declare their readiness to facilitate the implementation of the objectives of the Agreement through cooperation. Possible fields of cooperation, such as the promotion of exports, as well as methods, such as seminars and technical assistance, are specified in the chapter.

 

Institutional Provisions and Dispute Settlement

Chapter 11 establishes a Joint Committee to supervise and administer the Agreement and to oversee its further development. The Joint Committee, which normally meets every two years, may modify the Agreement or consider and propose amendments, as provided for in the Agreement. Chapter 12 sets out the rules and procedures applying with respect to the avoidance or settlement of any disputes that may arise between Parties concerning the interpretation or application of the Agreement.

 

Accession

In Chapter 13, the Agreement foresees that any Member State of the Central American Economic Integration Sub-System may accede to the FTA, provided that the Joint Committee approves such accession.


Federico Cruz Aizarna
Senior Officer
Trade Relations Division
Geneva

+41 223322 635