EFTA Council discusses expanding free trade network

Published 21-05-2012
The EFTA Council met on 16 May for their third meeting in 2012 under the chairmanship of Switzerland. The Council discussed free trade relations with several countries outside the European Union including the ongoing negotiations with the Custom Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan and recent meetings under EFTA’s free trade agreements (FTAs) with Canada and Egypt. The Council also prepared the EFTA Summer Ministerial meeting in Switzerland.

The latest round of free trade negotiations with the Customs Union of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan was held in Geneva in April where good progress was made and a programme for further preparatory work was agreed.

Negotiations with Indonesia on a “Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement” were held in Yogyakarta in March and good progress was made.

The meetings with Canada and Egypt were held on 9 and 3 May respectively. The FTA with Canada entered into force in 2009 and it was agreed to explore the possibility of extending the agreement beyond trade in goods to areas such as services, investment, government procurement as well as sustainable development. The EFTA-Egypt free trade agreement has been operational since 2007 and the two sides discussed areas for a possible deepening of trade relations between the two sides.

The EFTA Summer Ministerial meeting will be held on 28 June 2012 in Gstaad, Switzerland and will be chaired by Swiss Federal Councillor Johann N. Schneider-Ammann. In addition to their own deliberations, the EFTA Ministers will meet with the association’s committees of Members of Parliament and representatives of the social partners of the member countries.

The next Council meeting is expected to take place on 19 June.

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