EFTA and Moldova formalized their shared ambition of strenghtening their economies by signing a Joint Declaration on Cooperation with Moldova in Geneva, Switzerland, on 24 November 2017.
In March 2021, both Parties went one step further with the launch of negotiations on a free trade agreement.
The EFTA States met for the first round of FTA negotiations with Moldova from 23 to 25 March 2021.
EFTA aims at concluding an ambitious and comprehensive free trade agreement with the Republic of Moldova covering the relevant fields on the free trade agenda and in line with the respective trade interests and sensitivities of all Parties. Stakeholders in the EFTA States shall receive at least the same treatment as offered by Moldova to their competitors. This includes going beyond existing obligations in the WTO and other international agreements where appropriate and promoting preferential trade relations that contribute to sustainable development and are beneficial to all.
EFTA's priorities are reflected in further details below:
Trade in Goods
EFTA will work towards the elimination of all customs duties on non-agricultural products (i.e. industrial products, as well as fish and other marine products), as of entry into force of the agreement. For agricultural products, market access will be negotiated individually by each EFTA State respectful of sensitivities related to domestic production and policies.
Rules of Origin and Customs Cooperation
As both Moldova and the EFTA States are Parties to the Pan-Euro-Mediterranean Convention on preferential rules of origin, EFTA foresees a link to this convention with the option of using the revised (more trade-friendly) rules. EFTA aims at the possibility of full cumulation for textiles between the Parties to the Central European Free Trade Agreement (CEFTA) and the EFTA States.
To ease the movement of goods and reduce costs in trade between the Parties, EFTA will work for expedited procedures and transparent rules for trade in goods and related services. EFTA will aim for border and customs procedures in line with or exceeding relevant international standards and agreements, in particular the WTO Agreement on Trade Facilitation, with an emphasis on effective and transparent cooperation between authorities and agencies concerned.
Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT) and Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS)
In the fields of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures and of technical barriers to trade (TBT), EFTA aims at decreasing technical and sanitary hurdles to trade for goods traded between the Parties. By negotiating provisions that build on the WTO agreements on SPS and TBT and considering agreements concluded with the EU, a certain degree of harmonisation can be achieved. The provisions shall go beyond the WTO obligations as appropriate.
Based on the WTO legal framework, EFTA aims to limit the possibility for all parties to take trade remedy measures between them to prohibit anti-dumping measures and to exclude products from global safeguard measures if they do not cause or threaten to cause a serious injury to the importing Party. EFTA further seeks to include elements going beyond the WTO obligations, for notifications and pre-emptive consultations.
Trade in Services
For the benefit of its Member States’ services providers, EFTA will seek to obtain market access equivalent to or better than that offered to its competitors on the Moldovan market in all sectors and modes of supply. The rules and disciplines in EFTA’s proposal are based on and go beyond WTO/GATS where appropriate.
Keeping reservations at a minimum, EFTA seeks to bind open market access conditions for investments in non-services sectors based on the interests, sensitivities, and relevant policies of the Parties. EFTA does not seek to negotiate investment protection provisions which remain a prerogative of each individual EFTA State.
Intellectual Property Rights
EFTA’s objective is to ensure the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights by building upon and where appropriate enhancing the standards of protection provided for by the WTO TRIPS agreement and other relevant international treaties within key substantive areas of IPR.
EFTA aims to negotiate disciplines that ensure that trade liberalisation will not be impaired by anti-competitive practices of private or public undertakings that may prevent, restrict, or distort competition.
EFTA aims to facilitate its suppliers’ access to the government procurement market in Moldova based on the WTO revised Agreement on Government Procurement and will seek additional access where appropriate.
Trade and Sustainable Development
With the view to ensure preferential trade relations that contribute to sustainable development, EFTA proposes a standalone chapter in which the Parties confirm their obligations under relevant international environmental agreements and labour instruments they have ratified. They shall further commit to uphold their domestic levels of protection in these issues. Further, the Parties shall encourage high levels of social and environmental protection, promote trade and investment favouring sustainable development and address issues relating to the sustainable management of natural resources and associated trade. The proposal builds on a cooperative and dialogue-oriented approach. It shall not seek harmonisation of standards among the Parties and shall not be subject to the arbitration procedure of the Agreement.
Horizontal Issues, Institutional Provisions and Dispute Settlement
EFTA’s proposal for a Preamble (i.e. an introductory part) to the Agreement refers to general principles such as the relationship to WTO agreements and affirmation of the Parties’ commitments under relevant international instruments in the areas of human rights, labour standards and environment protection.
The agreement negotiated by EFTA seeks to establish a Joint Committee between the Parties that shall review the implementation and operation of the Agreement and to further develop and expand it as deemed appropriate. The Joint Committee shall make recommendations and take decisions by consensus. It shall be empowered to amend the annexes and appendices of the Agreement.
Lastly, a procedure shall be established allowing for consultations and amicable solutions in the Joint Committee, and for arbitration in the event of disputes which the Parties have not been able to resolve.
The Joint Declaration on Cooperation (JDC) addresses cooperation on trade-related issues such as exchange of information on trade in goods and services, customs and origin matters, technical barriers to trade, intellectual property rights, public procurement markets, competition, and trade and sustainable development.
Furthermore, the Joint Declaration on Cooperation aims to promote private sector trade and investment cooperation.
A Joint Committee is established which provides the EFTA States and Moldova with a forum and a practical framework to review their cooperation, discuss any other issue of mutual interest and formulate appropriate recommendations.
The Joint Declaration on Cooperation provides that the EFTA States and Moldova shall, when conditions permit, jointly examine actions to be taken in view of establishing a free trade area between them.
For EFTA-Moldova trade statistics, see EFTA Trade Statistics Tool