EFTA starts free trade negotiations with Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan

Published 14-01-2011
Delegations from the EFTA States and Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan met for a first round of negotiations on a broad-based Free Trade Agreement on 11-13 January 2011 in Geneva.

The launching of EFTA-Russia/Belarus/Kazakhstan free trade negotiations had been announced in November 2010 by Ministers from the seven participating States, following a preparatory process including a Joint Feasibility Study.

During the first round held in Geneva, groups of experts discussed , in particular: Trade in Industrial and Agricultural Products; Sanitary and Phytosanitary issues; Technical Barriers to Trade; Trade Remedies; Customs and Origin matters; Trade Facilitation; and Intellectual Property Rights. Other topics, such as Services and Investment, Government Procurement, and Trade and Sustainable Development, were addressed at the level of heads of delegations.

The Parties held constructive talks allowing for good headway and exchange of information in all fields. They agreed to meet again in April 2011 in Kazakhstan.

The negotiating teams were led by Mr Jan Farberg, Director General in the Norwegian Ministry of Trade and Industry, on the EFTA side, Mr Maxim Medvedkov, Director of the Department for Trade Negotiations in the Ministry of Economic Development, for Russia, Mr Valery Sadokho, Head of Foreign Economic Activities in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, for Belarus, and Ms Zharkin Kakimzhanova, Counsellor at Kazakhstan's Permanent Mission in Geneva, for Kazakhstan.

In 2009, the three countries now forming the Russia/Belarus/Kazakhstan customs union were EFTA’s 5th most important export destination and 4th largest import source outside the European Union, with total merchandise trade amounting to USD 6.2 billion. Trade in services as well as foreign direct investment are also significant between both sides.

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