Hong Kong, China

Relation: 

The EFTA States signed a Free Trade Agreement with Hong Kong, China in Schaan, Liechtenstein, on 21 June 2011. The Agreement entered into force on 1 October 2012 for Hong Kong, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland and 1 November 2012 for Norway.

Summary

The Agreement has a comprehensive scope, including trade in goods (industrial and processed agricultural goods, fish and other marine products), trade in services, investment, protection of intellectual property rights, government procurement, competition, trade and environment, and provisions on dispute settlement.

Bilateral arrangements on agricultural products between the individual EFTA States and Hong Kong, China also form part of the instruments establishing the free trade area between both sides.

Alongside the Free Trade Agreement, the Parties concluded an Agreement on Labour.

Content of the Free Trade Agreement

The Agreement consists of 11 Chapters and 12 Annexes. The Agreement covers the following main subjects:

Trade in Goods

Industrial Goods and Fish and marine products

Upon entry into force of the Agreement, the Parties abolish all customs duties on imports and exports of industrial goods, including fish and other marine products, originating in an EFTA State or in Hong Kong, China (Chapter 2). 

Agricultural products

The Agreement provides for tariff concessions on processed agricultural products (Annex II). Tariff concessions on basic agricultural products are covered by bilateral agreements concluded between the individual EFTA States and Hong Kong, China.

Rules of Origin

The rules of origin and the methods of administrative cooperation are set out in Annex IV.

Trade Facilitation

The Agreement contains provisions on trade facilitation (Annex V).

Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS)

The Agreement foresees that rights and obligations of the Parties in respect of sanitary and phytosanitary measures shall be governed by the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures and provides for cooperation and a consultation mechanism in this regard (Art. 2.6).

Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)

The Agreement foresees that rights and obligations of the Parties in respect of technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment procedures shall be governed by the WTO Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade and provides for cooperation and a consultation mechanism in this regard (Art. 2.7).

Trade Remedies

The rules regarding state trading enterprises, subsidies and countervailing measures, anti-dumping, global safeguard measures and bilateral safeguard measures are set out in Articles 2.10-2.14.

Trade in Services

Chapter 3 on trade in services covers all four modes of supply of a service, as defined under the GATS, and addresses all services sectors. Separate Annexes dealing with financial services (Annex VIII) and telecommunications services (Annex IX) complement the Chapter. Annex VII requires Iceland, Liechtenstein, Switzerland and Hong Kong, China, to negotiate disciplines on domestic regulation. The Parties’ undertakings in the different sectors are scheduled according to a negative approach whereby Parties individually list their reservations from market access, national treatment or the MFN obligations (Annex X).

Investment/Establishment

Chapter 4 on investment aims at improving the legal framework conditions for investors from the EFTA States and Hong Kong, China investing in each other’s territories in activities not covered by Chapter 3 (trade in services). In Annex XI, Parties specify the reservations from national treatment in country-specific lists on the basis of restrictions in their national legislations.

Protection of Intellectual Property (IPR)

The Agreement sets out in Chapter 5 and Annex XII comprehensive rules for the protection of intellectual property rights. These rules are based on the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and include certain clarifications and improvements over TRIPS.

Government Procurement

The Agreement incorporates the Parties’ right and obligations under the plurilateral Agreement on Government Procurement (Chapter 6).

Competition

In Chapter 7 the EFTA States and Hong Kong, China, acknowledge that certain business practices may restrict competition and thus undermine the benefits accruing from the Agreement. For this purpose, the Parties undertake to cooperate and consult in their dealings with anti-competitive practices.

Trade and Sustainable Development

The Parties recognise that economic development, social development and environmental protection are interdependent and underline that their closer economic partnership can play an important role in promoting sustainable development. In Chapter 8 the EFTA States and Hong Kong, China reaffirm their commitment to multilateral environmental agreements and principles and undertake to uphold levels of protection while recognising the right of each Party to establish its own level of environmental protection.

Institutional Provisions

The Agreement establishes a Joint Committee tasked with supervising and administering the Agreement, as well as with the review of possible further liberalization (Chapter 9).

Dispute Settlement

Chapter 10 contains the rules applicable to the settlement of disputes among the Parties, including through consultations.

Annexes and Record of Understanding
Trade in Goods Annex I Excluded Products    
  Annex II Processed Agricultural Products Table  
  Annex III Fish and Other Marine Products    
  Annex IV Rules of Origin Appendix 1 Product Specific Rules
      Appendix 2 Origin Declaration
  Annex V Trade Facilitation    
  Annex VI Mandate of the Sub-Committee on Rules of Origin, Customs Procedures and Trade Facilitation    
Trade in Services Annex VII Disciplines on Domestic Regulation    
  Annex VIII Financial Services    
  Annex IX Telecommunications Services    
  Annex X List of Reservations and Commitments Appendix 1 Hong Kong, China
      Appendix 2 Iceland
      Appendix 3 Liechtenstein
      Appendix 4 Norway
      Appendix 5 Switzerland
Investment Annex XI Investment Reservations    
IPR Annex XII Protection of Intellectual Property    

 

Joint Committee Decisions

 

Decision Subject Adopted Entry into force
2017
No. 1/2017 Rules of procedure of the Joint Committee 31.10.2017 31.10.2017
No. 2/2017 Model Rules of Procedure for the Arbitration Panel 31.10.2017 31.10.2017
No. 3/2017 Procedures for the Modification of Lists of Reservations and Commitments on Trade in Services 31.10.2017 31.10.2017
No. 4/2017 Amendments to Annex VII "Disciplines on Domestic Regulation" 31.10.2017 Pending
No. 5/2017 Amendments to Annex II "Processed Agricultural Products" 31.10.2017 Pending
No. 6/2017 Amendments to Annex III "Fish and Other Marine Products" 31.10.2017 Pending
No. 7/2017 Amendments to Appendix 1 and 5 to Annex X "Lists of Reservations and Commitments" 31.10.2017 31.10.2017
Other Agreements
Statistics

For EFTA-Hong Kong, China trade statistics, see EFTA Trade Statistics Tool

Senior Officer
Trade Relations Division

+41 223322 641

Legal Notes on the EEA Agreement