The EFTA States signed a Free Trade Agreement with Lebanon in Montreux, Switzerland, on 24 June 2004. The Agreement entered into force on 1 July 2007.
The Free Trade Agreement covers trade in industrial products, including fish and marine products. In addition, bilateral agreements on basic agricultural products between the individual EFTA countries and Lebanon have been concluded and form part of the instruments creating the free trade area.
Among the objectives of the Agreement is the progressive liberalisation of trade in goods in conformity with Article XXIV of the GATT. By 1 March 2015, virtually all customs duties on trade in industrial goods and fish and other marine products have been eliminated. The Agreement also includes provisions relating to the elimination of other trade barriers as well as trade-related disciplines including rules of competition, state monopolies and state aid. Moreover, the Agreement contains Chapters on intellectual property, services, investment as well as payments and transfers. The Agreement establishes a Joint Committee which supervises the application of the Agreement and provides for binding arbitration.
The Agreement consists of 42 Articles, five Annexes, three Protocols and a Final Act. The Agreement covers the following main subjects:
- Trade in Goods
- Rules of Origin
- Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS)
- Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
- Trade Remedies
- Trade in Services
- Protection of Intellectual Property (IPR)
- Government Procurement
- Institutional Provisions
- Dispute Settlement
- Economic Co-Operation and Technical Assistance
Trade in Goods
The Agreement provides for effective market access for industrial goods in terms of tariffs and rules of origin, creating EU parity for EFTA exports to Lebanon. By 1 March 2015, all industrial goods originating in the EFTA States enjoy duty free access into Lebanon. Lebanese exports into the EFTA States are duty-free as from the entry into force of the Agreement.
Fish and marine products
The Agreement covers trade in all fish and other marine products. The EFTA States grant duty-free access on imports of all Lebanese fish products. By 1 March 2015, the remaining Lebanese tariffs on fish and other marine products are brought down to zero.
Trade in processed agricultural products is covered in a Protocol to the main Agreement.
In addition, trade in basic agricultural products is covered in three bilateral agreements negotiated separately between Iceland, Norway and Switzerland/Liechtenstein on the one hand and Lebanon on the other hand. These agreements form part of the instruments establishing the free trade area. They provide for mutual tariff concessions. Each agreement also contains specific rules of origin, generally based on the “wholly-obtained” criteria.
Rules of Origin
The rules of origin for industrial goods concerning the definition of the concept of originating products and the methods for administrative co-operation are based on the current Euro-Mediterranean (EuroMed) model, maintaining the general structure and the substance of the European standard rules. The specific list rules are also based on the current Euro-Med model.
Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS)
The Parties agree to apply their regulations in sanitary and phytosanitary matters in a non-discriminatory fashion and not apply any new measures that have the effect of unduly obstructing trade.
Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT)
The Parties agree to co-operate in the field of technical regulations, standards and conformity assessment, and to consult in the Joint Committee in case a Party considers that another Party has taken measures which are likely to create, or have created, a technical obstacle to trade as defined in the relevant WTO Agreement.
The Agreement contains provisions on subsidies and antidumping which are in line with the respective WTO rules, as well as procedures for the application of safeguard measures.
Trade in Services
The Parties aim at achieving gradual liberalisation and the mutual opening of their markets for trade in services in accordance with the provisions of the General Agreement on Trade in Services (GATS). Moreover, the EFTA States and Lebanon will consider extending to each other additional benefits that either side may grant to a third party.
Under the Agreement, payments relating to trade and investment-related transfers must not be restricted. The Parties share the goal of promoting, through different means, an attractive and stable environment for reciprocal investments.
Protection of Intellectual Property (IPR)
The Agreement sets a high standard for the protection of intellectual property rights, covering areas including patents, copyright, industrial designs, undisclosed information and geographical indications. It goes, in certain areas, beyond what is provided for in the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) and other international conventions and treaties.
The Parties aim at a reciprocal and gradual liberalisation of procurement contracts, to be implemented on the basis of decisions by the Joint Committee, which is set up under the Agreement. The Agreement opens up for negotiations with a view to extending possible future additional benefits granted to third parties by either the EFTA States or Lebanon.
Cartels between, and the abuse of a dominant position by, economic operators of the Parties are incompatible with the Agreement if they affect trade between the EFTA States and Lebanon. In such a case, a Party may bring the matter before the Joint Committee and, failing an agreement between the Parties concerned, may take appropriate measures. The Agreement also foresees an exchange of information between the Parties with respect to the enforcement of their competition laws.
A Joint Committee composed of representatives of the EFTA States and Lebanon supervises the application of the Agreement. The Parties may hold consultations and, failing an agreement, apply provisional measures.
Lebanon or any EFTA State may refer a dispute relating to the interpretation of rights and obligations under the Agreement to binding arbitration if consultations do not lead to a settlement. The arbitral tribunal will settle the dispute in accordance with the provisions of the Agreement and the customary rules of interpretation of public international law.
Economic Co-Operation and Technical Assistance
In order to facilitate the implementation of the Agreement, the EFTA States and Lebanon will elaborate modalities for technical assistance and co-operation and co-ordinate their efforts with relevant international organisations.
Annexes, Protocols and Joint Declarations
|Switzerland-Lebanon - English / French / German / Italian|
|Decision||Subject||Adopted||Entry into force|
|No. 1/2011||Annex IV||03.03.2011||01.05.2013|
|No. 4/2009||Protocol B||08.10.2009||Pending|
|No. 3/2009||Protocol A||08.10.2009||Pending|
|No. 2/2009||Annex II||08.10.2009||Pending|
|No. 1/2009||Rules of Procedure of the Joint Committee||08.10.2009||08.10.2009|
For EFTA-Lebanon trade statistics, see EFTA Trade Statistics Tool