On 8 June 2020, EFTA Ministers convened in an informal meeting through videoconference, to discuss EFTA third-country relations and cooperation with the EU, including in the context of COVID-19. Ministers also prepared for the upcoming Ministerial meeting which is scheduled to take place in Geneva, Switzerland, on 27 October 2020, as well as EFTA’s 60th Anniversary symposium, scheduled to take place back to back with the Ministerial meeting.
The meeting was convened by Guy Parmelin, Swiss Federal Councillor, and other Ministers present were Guðlaugur Þór Þórðarson, Icelandic Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Development; Katrin Eggenberger, Minister of Foreign Affairs Justice and Culture of Liechtenstein; and State Secretary Lucie Katrine Sunde-Eidem, Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries of Norway.
The videoconference focused on the current crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including possible policy responses. Ministers emphasised the importance of maintaining an open rules-based multilateral trading system. Ministers also took stock on various ongoing third-country processes including Mercosur, India, Malaysia, Vietnam, the Southern African Customs Union (SACU), Chile and Indonesia.
Following the internal discussion, the EFTA Ministers continued with an exchange with the EFTA Parliamentary Committee and the EFTA Consultative Committee. Both committees provided Ministers with policy recommendations regarding trade, cooperation with the EU, health and sanitary policies, employment and social policies and development aid. Discussions included an exchange of information on the latest developments in third-country relations. More details here.
“Countries the size of ours can never try to be self-sufficient and will always be dependent on trade. The rules-based international order remains the best guarantee for secure market access. The EFTA States are therefore as committed as ever to continue the extension of our EFTA free trade network” highlighted the Chair, Guy Parmelin.
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