EFTA Council meets in Geneva for its fourth meeting in 2023

Published 14-06-2023
From left to right: Ms Helga Helland - Deputy Permanent Representative Norwegian Mission in Geneva, Mr Petter Ølberg - Ambassador of Norway, Mr Didier Chambovey - Ambassador of Switzerland, Mr Boris Richard - Deputy Permanent Representative Swiss Mission in Geneva

The EFTA Council met in Geneva on 14 June for the fourth time this year and for the eighth and last time under Liechtenstein’s Chairmanship of 2022/2023 to discuss ongoing trade processes and preparations for the upcoming EFTA Ministerial in Schaan on 27 June.

The Secretary-General, Mr Henri Gétaz, presented the Council with some general considerations on third-country processes ahead of the Ministerial meeting. He stated that EFTA had reached many of the targets it set itself 12 months ago, such as the conclusion of negotiations with Moldova and the resumption of discussions with India. On Vietnam, delegates were informed about the meeting of Deputy Minister Khanh with EFTA States on 11 May in Geneva, which resulted in positive engagement on the negotiation process. On Ukraine, delegates discussed the work on both sides towards a swift launch of negotiations for a modernisation of the agreement.   

Furthermore, the Council discussed horizontal issues, particularly the agreement by Member States on a draft model chapter on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) now in consultation with the EFTA advisory bodies. Delegates were informed about the sustainability impact assessment being carried out on a free trade agreement with Thailand and about ongoing projects in relation to preference utilisation of EFTA’s FTAs. Delegates were informed about EFTA–EU relations, including recent Subcommittee, Standing and Joint Committee meetings. They were also briefed on the EEA Council on 24 May that focused on competitiveness, green transition, and relevant trade policy questions.

The Liechtenstein Chair and the Secretary-General thanked departing Swiss Ambassador Didier Chambovey for his service to EFTA matters throughout the years and wished the Swiss delegation a successful incoming Chairmanship.

The next meeting is scheduled for Tuesday 19 September 2023 under Swiss Chairmanship.

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