EFTA and SACU continue update process of free trade agreement

Published 13-12-2019
Elizabeth van Renen (left) and Lars Erik Nordgaard.
Continuing the negotiations on an updated and expanded free trade agreement, officials from the Southern African Customs Union (SACU) and the EFTA Member States met in Maun, Botswana from 10-13 December.

The SACU delegation was headed by Ms Elizabeth van Renen, Chief Director in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, South Africa, while Lars Erik Nordgaard, Senior Adviser at the Norwegian Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries acted as the EFTA spokesperson. The review process covers trade in goods, rules of origin, trade facilitation and trade and sustainable development.

Regarding market access for goods, the two trade blocs used the meeting to signal possible improvements in their respective offers for both agricultural and industrial goods, providing important information towards closing the remaining gaps in those areas. Progress was also achieved on rules of origin and customs issues, where the two sides were able to agree on specific list rules for various key products and reduced the open issues on trade facilitation.

In the area of trade and sustainable development, discussions remained challenging and the two sides were not able to find common ground on the overall approach. In order to be able to arrive at a substantial chapter on Trade and Sustainable Development, delegations agreed to undertake the necessary steps and to hold a dedicated meeting at Senior Officials level prior to convening the next round of negotiations.

Merchandise trade stands at some 1.6 billion USD and has grown steadily over recent years. EFTA’s main exports include pharmaceuticals, ships and vessels, machinery and mineral fuel, while imports include aluminium, vehicles and nickel, as well as fruits, nuts and meat.

Read more about merchandise trade between EFTA and SACU here.

Officer
Trade Relations Division

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Seminar on the European Economic Area - Brussels 13 February 2020