They were joined by Mr Mladjan Dinkic, Minister of Economy and Regional Development, Republic of Serbia, and Mr Sejdi Qerimaj, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of the Republic of Albania to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva, for the signing of the EFTA-Serbia and EFTA-Albania Free Trade Agreements.
Ministers expressed their satisfaction at the conclusion of the negotiations with Peru. They welcomed the progress made in ongoing negotiations with India and Ukraine and looked forward to the start of negotiating processes with Hong Kong and Indonesia. They expressed their wish to sign a Joint Declaration on Co-operation with Malaysia and to commence work on a Joint Feasibility Study with Vietnam.
On 17 December 2009, the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) held a Ministerial Meeting in Geneva under the Chairmanship of Ms Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Liechtenstein.
Ministers from the four EFTA Member States, together with, respectively, Mr Mladjan Dinkic, Minister of Economy and Regional Development of the Republic of Serbia, and Mr Sejdi Qerimaj, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Albania to the United Nations and other International Organisations in Geneva, signed two Free Trade Agreements with Serbia and Albania. They welcomed the continued strengthening of trade and economic relations between the EFTA Member States and South-Eastern Europe.
Ministers expressed their satisfaction at the conclusion of the negotiations with Peru and looked forward to signing this agreement as soon as possible. They welcomed the significant progress achieved in the negotiations with Ukraine and expressed their hope that these could be concluded in the first half of 2010. Ministers highlighted the advances made in talks with India and reiterated the priority attached to these going forward. Ministers also expressed their wish that the negotiations with Algeria and Thailand could be resumed at the earliest possible moment.
Ministers welcomed the start of negotiating processes with Hong Kong in January and with Indonesia in early 2010. They looked forward to the signing of a Joint Declaration on Co-operation with Malaysia and to beginning work on a joint feasibility study with Vietnam early next year. Ministers took stock of the latest developments with regard to Russia and agreed to swiftly finalise preparations with a view to launching a negotiating process with this country early in 2010. Based on recent contacts at Ministerial level, they furthermore agreed to propose a Joint Declaration on Co-operation to Panama.
Ministers welcomed the significant progress reached in the ad-hoc EFTA Working Group on Trade and Environment and looked forward to the finalisation of a report in the first quarter of next year. They mandated the ad-hoc Working Group on Labour Standards in EFTA Free Trade Agreements to pursue its work.
Ministers welcomed the first signs of recovery in the global economy and expressed guarded optimism for the medium-term outlook. Recalling the significant impact of the global financial crisis on trade flows, Ministers emphasised the importance of a robust multilateral trading system to contain protectionist pressures and reaffirmed the strong commitment of the EFTA States to the WTO. Following on from the recent WTO Ministerial Conference in Geneva, they called for a successful conclusion of the WTO Doha Round and stressed the need for a productive stock-taking exercise in early 2010.
Ministers also met with EFTA’s Parliamentary Committee and had a fruitful exchange of views on recent developments in EFTA’s third-country policies.
Liechtenstein: Ms Aurelia Frick, Minister of Foreign Affairs
Iceland: Mr Gylfi Magnússon, Minister of Economic Affairs
Norway: Mr Trond Giske, Minister of Trade and Industry
Switzerland: Ms Doris Leuthard, Federal Councillor, Head of the Federal Department of Economic Affairs
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