Since the early 1990s, the European Free Trade Association has established an extensive network of contractual free trade relations all over the world. It is the goal of EFTA's third-country policy to safeguard the economic interests of its Member States, to support and reinforce the process of European and interregional integration, and to contribute to worldwide efforts to liberalise trade and investment.
The joint negotiation of free trade agreements (FTAs) with partners outside the European Union (EU) allows EFTA to actively pursue its objective of creating trade opportunities for its operators and thus generate growth in the economies of its Member States. As such, they can become more competitive outside the EU area.
FTAs eliminate duties on industrial goods, making it easier and cheaper for EFTA businesses to export products. Furthermore, FTAs open markets for service providers and allow contractors to bid on foreign government procurements tenders. EFTA also supports the mutual protection of intellectual property rights and paves the way for investors.
While aiming at contributing to a world open to trade, EFTA engages in the recognition of all the dimensions of sustainable development in its FTAs, such as the protection of the environment, labour and gender rights.
Today, EFTA has 29 FTAs covering 40 countries and territories outside the EU.
EFTA Trade Statistics is a new, interactive tool that gives insight on trade relations with EFTA's partners over time and by type of merchandise. The tool provides data on the trade relations between the EFTA States and their trading partners from 2002 - 2016.
This interactive map gives an overview of EFTA's preferential trade relations with partners worldwide. Click on any country shown in colour for more information. The borders shown are without prejudice to their legal status. A picture of the map (large version) can be downloaded.
EFTA FTAs cover trade in industrial products (including fish) and agricultural products. They contain provisions on, among others, a joint committee, dispute settlement, rules of origin and trade remedies, as well as on competition and the protection of intellectual property rights.
EFTA’s FTAs are notified to the World Trade Organization (WTO). They build on WTO rules and commitments, thereby enhancing framework conditions for transborder economic exchange and creating added value in terms of reducing obstacles to trade and legal security. The EFTA States see FTAs as a complement to, and not a substitute for, the multilateral trading system.
This page contains information regarding customs and origin matters in the EFTA States
In addition to the bilateral technical cooperation provided by the Member States, EFTA provides technical cooperation to assist our partner countries in harmonising their statutory frameworks and implementing current regulations to facilitate trade. This assistance is provided under the EEA Agreement and existing free trade agreements. In some cases, EFTA also provides technical cooperation to potential free trade partners.
Free Trade Agreements: Notifications regarding Processed Agricultural Products (PAP).
In the EFTA States, openness to trade and access to international markets is the basis for economic growth and general welfare. EFTA States also apply and actively promote high standards for sustainable development and inclusiveness in their trade policies and their respective foreign policy. With the adoption of model provisions on trade and sustainable development in 2010, EFTA Ministers acknowledged a need for enhanced policy coherence at the national and international levels in order to harness the potential for a positive contribution of international trade to the promotion of sustainable development.
Chronology of EFTA’s Free Trade Agreements, Declarations on Cooperation, Free Trade Negotiations and Exploratory Processes. Current Agreements and Declarations are presented according to the chronological order of signing.
The Trade relations division (TRD) is in charge of the exploration, negotiation and implementation of preferential trade arrangements with non-EU partner countries worldwide (Declarations on Cooperation, Free Trade Agreements).